Our schedules are filled with activities, responsibilities and lists of must-do items. In addition to the planning our daily work and routine, we now must also plan our breaks. And, I might add that the breaks are even more important now because we live under all constant stress to do more.

How do you know when overwhelm becomes full on, relentless stress? Here are a few alerts to watch out for:

1. Do you always feel rushed with too much to do and not enough time to do it?

2. Are you mentally scattered and not feeling in control?

3. Are you impatient, irritable and lack of compassion for self and others?

People can’t handle continual stress without feeling it in their bodies and seeing the results in their lives.

Last week, overwhelm got the best of me. I was rushing out to join my friends for a evening of listening to live music (my favorite evening pastime). Not wanting to be late, I quickly raised my broken garage door to turn off my outdoor sprinkler system. To close the door, I had to manually pull the door down. Gravity took hold and the door rushed down, catching my three fingers on each of my hands underneath.


I jerked my knee up against the door and was able to free my smashed fingers.

In hindsight, I can see how rushing to get out the door and distraction at the possibility of being late resulted in the accident.

I will think twice before I greet the broken garage door with less than 100 percent of my attention.

It would have been to my benefit to slow down and take a breath before rushing off. A brief pause would have allowed me to enjoy and experience the fabulous evening of music.

Yes, overwhelm has become part of our lives, but the key to overcoming it is to recognize the signs and take counter measures.

If you find yourself knee-deep in overwhelm, try these 3 tips to get back to center:

1. Notice your breath. Pause, inhale deep and exhale slowly. Sometimes it only takes a moment to calm down and see clearly.

2. Start a ritual of gratitude. Throughout your day, notice things that you are grateful for. You don’t need to make a big production of it. Simply pause and think of something in your life that brings you joy. Make this a habit and before long, your day is filled with tiny moments of happiness.

3. Make room for small delights. DO you have a favorite treat or activity that you can introduce in small segments of time into your day? Tiny delights break up the day and allow you to enjoy the small things.

For more benefits of managing overwhelm , go to www.HeartMath.org for more beneficial tips.

Oh, by the way, that Saturday night I spent the entire evening soaking my hands in cool water while sitting on my sofa at home. And, my garage door is now fixed.