Stillness amid chaos

Stillness amid chaos

Examination and assessment periods are notoriously busy times. It is easy to become overwhelmed. This is unhelpful because it tends to lead to sleepless nights and can make settling to useful work much more difficult. It is also horrible, which is the best reason of all to avoid it. So, the question becomes, how do I avoid feeling overwhelmed?

One of the secrets to a successful life is developing the practice of asking of each thing, “Is this important? What would happen if I did not do it?”. This practice is the single biggest secret to making the best use of your time. It enables you to prioritise your life meaningfully by stopping doing those things that make little or no difference and focusing on those things that will have the biggest impact of all. This way, if other things don’t get done, they will be the less important things, and you can learn to live with that. You will have to learn to live with that. The limits to what is possible are reached quite rapidly, and while reaching outside your comfort zone is transformative, beyond the ‘growth’ zone lies overwhelm, which is a scary place where a reliable sense of proportion begins to erode and everything starts to look important. This is a sign you need to stop and take care of yourself.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the intrusive thoughts arising from all the things we tell ourselves we need to do. Letting go and coming back into contact with reality, including with our bodies, which are the gateway to feeling and experience and can ground us so we can see that our thoughts are imaginations and memories and therefore mutable, inconstant and not real; that they appear as a storm of disastrous possibilities, none of which have yet come to pass, threatening to overwhelm with perceived threats without impacting reality.

Just noticing how your fingers move, and wondering just how you make that happen when the instruction to your fingers itself is unconscious and unknowable can be surprisingly grounding. Everything outside the physical world becomes obviously surreal and qualitatively different. Stretching gently can reconnect you with your feelings and needs. These Sports & Recreation classes in Pilates and Yoga might help. Being taken on a journey of guided meditation is also a lovely escape for the mind, although you should remember throughout that this is the mind is still at play.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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