by Nancy Shapiro
“When you feel overwhelmed, you’re trying too hard.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Like pushing the proverbial stone up the mountain only to have it roll continuously back down, the often frenzied schedules of travel can overwhelm me, even when that overwhelm is made up of enjoyable, exciting, or inspiring events and people. So I’ve learned to pay attention when that feeling grabs me and makes me forgetful, hyper, cranky, anxious, or some particularly toxic combination of all four. Then I do my best to re-arrange my schedule into something more spacious …into what my friend Sowbel calls…deep ease.
Fierce Prioritizing: Giving myself permission to change my initial schedule adds much-needed breathing room. It’s surprising how often what I think is a must-see/must-do turns out to be something that doesn’t truly interest me.
Stay Open: Invigorating adventure, synchronicity, and surprise are always available, yet only if I allow it in. To turn instead down that small side street with the fascinating sign, or have the best meal of my life [so far] because I said hello to an elderly man in a park keeps me connected and curious.
Active Self-care: Staying tuned to how I feel physically helps immensely. Knowing how often and how much food and water I require to maintain equilibrium and good humor is essential. Naps or doing nothing for an hour, some lunges down the hotel hallway, and regular stretching keep me feeling limber and rested.
Look for Beauty: To dwell in the expansive space that something beautiful invokes is an antidote to overwhelm. Beauty can be something small and close to your heart, or wildly unfamiliar and larger than life—it’s different for everyone. Beauty stops me in my tracks, and the tiredness that can accumulate after a long day of sightseeing often dissolves on the spot because I do the following…
Stop and Breathe: The above tips help me slow down, pay attention, and stop trying so hard to take in all of my surroundings. Beauty, a chance conversation, or a surprise tells me: “Be still. Breathe. Enjoy this.” That moment then becomes a part of me, something added and now integral to my very core. Deep ease takes me by the hand, the best travel guide ever.
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Nancy G. Shapiro is a life coach and writer specializing in helping people transition into well-being.