Help! I'm Drowning

There are periods in our lives when it appears some evil genius just won our name on a lottery roll, and is on an assignment to make our lives a living hell. There are deadlines not being met and our well laid plans are being shot to space. It’s as if we don’t get to catch a break at all. If the doctor is not saying something utterly blood chilling about our health (which he does with a straight face by the way), then it’s that our best and most dependable relationships are taking wings like an upset birds nest. Even worse, there’s some crazy stuff happening at work or home at the worst time possible. Whatever the issues may be, they just choose to come in pelts and torrents and we feel like we’re drowning. Peradventure you have never had such an experience, I would have said congratulations, but the truth is, if you have the privilege of living a little longer, you’ll most probably get to enjoy this experience, so read along.
That is how I felt a few days ago when I realised by no extra revelation that it’s the month of March, three months into the year and the year’s quarter already by the corner.  It felt like it was yesterday that we celebrated the New Year, and I had given my lecture on New Year and setting goals and stuff. We had such big plans for the year, and we were sure we’ll hit home run this time. Well, its three months and I’m beginning to feel like a tornado just passed through all my plans and left me standing in a spot with my head spinning like a ceiling fan.  Do you feel the same way? That every project you try to lay hold on artfully slips away from you? That the pile of uncompleted ventures you engaged is growing into a monster? If you do, I’m sure that at this time, you are beginning to find it difficult to breath and wake up in the morning to face your day. You feel terrible because you had promised yourself it won’t happen again this year, this year would be better you had vowed, but here you and it looks like you are drowning.

If you have ever experienced drowning in water literarily, you’ll agree with me that your biggest challenge at that point had not been the fact that you couldn’t swim; but your real enemy at that time had been panic.  Panic is defined in Wikipedia as “a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason or logical thinking…” You see, panic sets in because you feel you have lost control and you are about to be overcome or overwhelmed. It creeps in when you feel you are losing control; whether it’s at work, relationship or even driving. Once panic visits, it shuts down your ability to reason properly and heightens your sense of self-preservation. Unfortunately, self-preservation without reasoning is a disaster already in progress, it gives you the ‘grabbing at straws’ syndrome which is a term derived from the habit of drowning people who would rather grab at floating straws for support in an attempt to save their life rather than attempt to swim. Panic with all its adrenalin pumping, rather than motivating us to action, seem to paralyse us. Like the antelope that gets transfixed at the roar of the lion, we find that most times when multiple issues are thrown at us, our brain shut down instead of firing up.

Here are a few steps to try if you’re in a panic;

Breathe: This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Shut out all the noise; deadlines, screaming children and bosses (is it not amazing how alike they can be?). Once you find out the world has started spinning out of control stop and take a deep breath, stretch your muscles and take another look at everything. A fresh perspective may be all you need.

Halt the traffic: You are overwhelmed when multiple things are thrown at you from every angle. Halt the flow, bring out your goal list and take it one-by-one. Cross out those you have done if any, return to those you have abandoned, and most important, delete those that are unnecessary. You may find out you were drowning in a bucket of water, not an ocean as you thought. Taking issues one after the other allows you to get to cross something off your list and record victory. No matter how little, this gives you back your sense of control.

Talk to someone: A therapist or minister can help you sort through the maze you are lost in. If you have a friend who’s accountable, you can talk this over with them. Sometimes all you need is a listening ear.

Seek medical advice: In severe cases, where you now have irregular palpitations and high blood pressure, light headedness and even vomiting, please seek medical help and get the physical symptoms under control.    

When you learn to plan your life and prioritise your activities, it helps shield you from getting overwhelmed. Yet there are just sometimes, with all your plans and check lists, a storm blows through your life, and just leaves you in a state. When that times comes, tell yourself, “I shall not panic.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the stressors are so much and so diverse. Its good to reassess what's important and a scale of preference indeed helps one clear the clutter starting with mental clutter. You get that out of the way and the rest will follow. Nice one Kani