This week I had to do one of the hardest things in life: I had to take my own advice.

I am still perfecting the art of working around my monthly cycle, and last week I had to deliver my first ever live Zoom workshop then the next day attend a busy networking event on days when my hormones were at their most unhelpful. This didn’t seem to be a problem, as I really enjoyed both events. Yet come Saturday, and I was completely overwhelmed. The introvert in me needed silence, the anxious side of me needed to feel safe, the business owner in me wanted to keep pushing forward… Recipe for disaster.

What happens to me when I have what I term “a meltdown”? Panic. Struggles with communicating coherently. Lots of tears. A desire to eat EVERYTHING. More tears. Looooooads of insecurity and imagining that I am doing everything wrong.

With all the tools I have, was I able to just “snap out of it”? No, of course not. I needed to let out my emotions, take time to rest, solve a couple of practical problems – go through it in other words. Fortunately though I have written and recorded so much about overwhelm that it is impossible for me to not know what my advice would be to myself! So what did I do, and what did I not do?

  • I did meet my needs
  • I did forgive myself for needing rest, silence and sugar
  • I cancelled things that were non-essential. Each day that it was clear I was still struggling, I cancelled, moved, rearranged or delegated more until I felt able to cope again
  • I reached out to the person who makes me feel safe and was honest with him
  • I put on my big girl pants and had a couple of tricky conversations which led to sensible practical changes and reassurance
  • I did not shout at myself
  • I did not imagine that what I was thinking and feeling was real
  • I did not try to hide how much I was struggling and carry on regardless
  • I did not throw out my entire exercise and healthy eating plan just because I had one day on the biscuits

Most importantly, I gave myself time. I needed time to have a flap and a cry and declare everything a disaster, before I could start to make sensible choices. I needed a good cry to release a load of cortisol. I talked to people who reminded me that this too shall pass.

It is never easy when the brain weasels strike without warning, but giving ourselves time, being kind to ourselves and meeting our needs really does help. As do biscuits.

Helen Calvert
October 2021