Stress vs Overwhelmed

I always thought stressed was synonymous with overwhelmed and the first chapter of Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart taught me differently.  She defines the difference as “Stressed is being in the weeds.  Overwhelmed is being blown.

This is so enlightening for me as I finally can define the emotion during a family trauma in March 2021.  I understood what put me in the position (family hits the heart, not knowing what to do or how to help, reaching out for resources to help with no response, out of my element/not knowing the next steps, and those near saying this will never change and me fighting it has to change), but didn’t understand the immobility of myself.  I thought there was something wrong with me that I was unable to handle the situation (reality is, I did and did well with the limited resources I had).  And now, I know that I was more than stressed; I was overwhelmed.  I also learned that was I not being lazy after the situation was under control; that I was doing what I was suppose to do when being overwhelmed—non-doing (per Brene Brown from Kabat-Zinn).  And how empowering it is now to know that I kicked overwhelmed’s butt and survived with flying colors (sorta, still have some residue trigger points).

I’ve included an article from Help Guide below; the emotional symptoms of traumatic stress describes how I felt during and after the event.  According to Brene Brown, “…Kabat-Zinn suggests that mindful play, or no-agenda, non-doing time, is the cure for overwhelm” and I agree—I just wish that I would have realized it when I was overwhelmed.

I will say, putting a name to the emotions felt during the event is enlightening and somehow makes day-to-day stress more bearable.    

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

How to Cope with Traumatic Events

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