How to Turn Overwhelm Into Calm

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? …that rising sense of panic from having so many things to do. I made this crazy decision to pursue medical school. When I was 41. With two young children and a yoga studio. Pursuing my dream meant getting strategic about my life. Especially the past three years I’ve had to figure out a framework for my life in order to keep my sanity.  The author and computer science Cal Newport calls it a “framework of discipline” and forms the basis for a deep life. Last year when I heard Cal describing it on his weekly podcast, I thought, wow, that’s pretty similar to what I’ve been doing for the past couple years. 

Establish A Strong Foundation 

The key idea is that we have certain sanity-protecting habits. For me they are daily movement, nutritious food, and good sleep. Daily yoga or exercise protects my physical and mental health. Simple nutritious food fuels my body and brain. And sleep makes everything possible. These foundations fit together and support one another. Exercise and good nutrition help my sleep. And sleep helps me to perform better. 

Before I enter a busy period, my habits and routines need to be optimized to support these habits. I make it a priority to move in the morning no matter what. Usually this means waking up around 5am. This ensures I exercise before reporting for my clinical duties. My session lasts 15- 60 minutes, depending on my schedule. Even 15 minutes of movement is enough to fire up my brain and maintain some level of fitness. 

Food takes a bit more planning. If I have to report to the hospital by 7, I usually prepack overnight oats and a boiled egg. On Sundays (or my day off) I pack up a few days worth of breakfasts. I’ll try to throw together simple salads with a bit of grain and protein for lunch. In very busy times i may use a meal delivery service to take pressure off. Dinners are something simple - grilled fish or chicken, potatoes and vegetables. I try to keep our meals simple and whole foods based. 

Getting good sleep is paramount! Without sleep I’m grumpy and don’t function well. I try to have my last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime, minimize screen use and take a couple supplements for sleep. Currently I take magnesium threonate, magnesium and ashwagandha to aid my sleep. I also read something light before bed. Waking up early helps me to get sleepy around 8:30 or 9pm. 

Conquer the Stress Demons

Having routines in place for my food, sleep and movement give me a foundation of discipline. When life gets overwhelming, I don’t have to think about these areas. My routines are in place. This gives me a strong foundation to face the ups and downs of a busy life. Most of us have a lot on our plates, but how we react to our stress is the key to feeling overwhelmed or ready to conquer! 


About the author

You know how people feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed —and they have no idea how to sift through all the health advice to help them feel better? Jessica Blanchard uses yoga, Ayurveda and nutrition to fix the root causes of their problems, so they get fit, and feel calm and energized.

Leave a Repl​​​​​y

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Stay in touch, subscribe to my infrequent updates