What does “the spaces in between” have to do with overwhelm?

This morning I had overwhelm.

Everyday I walk my dog at 8am. I put my toddler in the carrier on my back and we head out together rain or shine. We look for blue cars, bunnies, and anything else interesting on the way.

No matter what my morning was like before my walk, or how little sleep I had the night before, I always feel better. But yesterday was different.

When I came in, I unhooked Walter from his leash. Then sat on the couch to release my son, grabbed the vacuum and started cleaning. My mind was on overdrive. Instantly I was in overwhelm hell with all the things I had to do before my parents came to visit later that day.

I could see the To-Do list climbing bigger and bigger. Thoughts were racing. I was starting to feel panicked and anxious at the impossibility of doing it all.

And then, something happened.

I stopped and realized I hadn’t thanked Walter or my son Magnus for the walk. I hadn’t created a space in between.

One of the beautiful aspects of yoga is the nurturing of the spaces in between. The spaces in between the breaths, between the poses, even between the practice and the end: shavasana.

I remember hearing a quote years ago that said, “God can be found in the space between two breaths.” And if you do this yourself, you’ll sense this quiet in the gap. It is a place of non-doing and completeness of being.

These gaps are not only opportunities to slow down, become present, and regroup, but they are also a transition between where you are and where you are going. These transitions are important because they signal the end of something and the beginning of something new.

Yesterday, I woke up overwhelmed and rushed from one task to the next before we even went for our walk. Then it continued when we got home. Typically, once we walk in the door, I thank my dog and my son for our walk. It is the transition from one activity to the next. It serves as a completion.

Without it, there was no closure. I flung myself into the next thing on my To-Do list which created this momentum of doing without the sense of completing which is overwhelming. The bar just kept getting further away instead of closer.

It’s the equivalent of having a To-Do list that you keep adding to and never cross off.  Creating clear transitions is the equivalent of crossing them off.

There are many ways you can implement this into your life.

At work, before changing activities, like going from doing research to going to a meeting, take a moment to connect to your breath to get present and let go of your research so you can be present for your meeting. This can be an opportunity to also get clear on what your objectives are and how you want to serve in this new space.

If you take the stress of work home with you, it’s helpful to do this before you walk in the door. Maybe turning the light off at the office will be your space in between, or opening your car door, or your front door, so that you can let go of work and now show up more present and relaxed with your family.

Creating clear transitions are key to managing feelings of overwhelm.

So, what did I do when I realized I was overwhelmed while vacuuming? I stopped and thanked my son and dog for a beautiful walk.

I’d love to know your thoughts, what might be some great ways you find your “spaces in between?” Tell me in the comments below!

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