An open letter to everyone feeling overwhelmed

Two weeks ago I found myself with an all-too-familiar feeling of anxiety rising inside of me, as life demands started to overwhelm me. Fortunately, I am practiced in acknowledging this feeling inside myself and so I decided to do some journalling to help clear my head. What surprised me was that instead of writing a regular journal entry I found myself writing a letter of advice to myself, as if I were a good friend giving counsel to someone in my position.

Although my journal entries are normally something deeply private, when I re-read the letter I had written I realised that it could apply to so many more people. My hope in sharing it is that you can find some solace in being able to relate to the things I felt in this moment, and that perhaps you will find some comfort and strength in my advice. Take from it what resonates and leave anything that does not. And if my letter doesn't fit with you, then I would highly recommend anyone grab a pen and paper and write a letter of advice to yourself. You too might be surprised by the wisdom you find in your words. 

Dear Erica,

I know right now you are feeling the overwhelm of life, and that anxious feeling in your chest seems like it might never go away. But you know that's not true. Like everything in life, this little period shall pass and you will feel relaxed and carefree once more.

Right now you just need to take it one step at a time. Don't think about all the things you have to do before next week, just focus on this moment. Trust that you are efficient, motivated and smart, and you will get it all done to a great standard.

Let go of your residual perfectionism and just let life flow. You can do this, you always manage. For now, as I said, just breathe deeply and take each moment as it comes.

Know too that it is okay to postpone some things, you can deal with them later when you have the clarity of mind to tackle them with love and gratitude. And on that note, remember that embodying love and gratitude is all you need to do to be "successful" by your own definition. 

Take care of yourself, nourish and respect your body and realise that sometimes the only thing you'll need is rest. Like right now, you are over-tired, don't confuse exhaustion for something more sinister. You will sleep well tonight and feel better tomorrow.

As for those around you, remember how deeply they love you. They are with you for a reason and you don't need to change or improve for them to continue to love you. And then there are those who are struggling and even though you feel completely helpless know that your presence is bringing light into their lives. As much as you want to take away all their suffering, you must acknowledge that it is a part of their journey on this Earth. Hold the space for them and love them unconditionally, that is all you can do.

Don't be so hard on yourself too. I know how you like to look back to old versions of yourself that you deemed more pure, motivated and disciplined. Firstly, you can't ever go backwards. Secondly, the judgements you make about your desirable and undesirable traits are arbitrary - there is nothing in you that is objectively bad. Practice accepting all parts that make up the wonderful, real person that you are.

Lastly, be proud of how far you've come. Your mental strength and emotional awareness is something you've worked so hard to build. It is holding you in good stead. Your newfound commitment to, and love of, exercise is amazing, be proud of that. The way you carry yourself is beautiful, and despite the self-doubt you possess you have positive impacts on those around you. 

You are perfect, whole and complete exactly as you are.

Love Erica xx

One final piece of advice to anyone and everyone who is feeling overwhelmed in some way right now, just take it one step at a time. That's all you can. It doesn't matter how small those steps are, just focus on the next one and don't worry about the mountain you're climbing. If all else fails, remember this too shall pass. These four words can be the best guiding light in times of struggle.

Have you ever written yourself a letter?

Love Erica x 

Photo by Ilya Ilyukhin on Unsplash