The Ultimate Secret Ager #5: Cultural Overload

Our inboxes are full, our refrigerators empty; the laundry needs doing, bills need paying, and we’re missing deadlines at work. Worst of all, we’re frozen, like deer in the headlights, unable to identify what to do first, or next, or ever. Cultural overload can lead to exhaustion, overwhelm, and ultimately, paralysis. What’s the solution? Here’s my prescription:

  1. Recognize what’s happening is part of cultural stress.
  2. Take a deep breath and assure yourself that you’re not a loser, alone, or a failure; we all experience it.
  3. Reconnect with your inner toddler and take a baby step. Dive in and do one thing that you can do without fear of failure. Then one more. As you cross things off your “To-do” list, your confidence returns and you feel empowered again.

I had a patient I’ll call Shelly, who came to me with a skin rash. Although I was easily able to treat the rash topically, the deeper issue was stress. Both her living and work environments were toxic. Her apartment had an undetectable gas leak, which was making her feel chronically ill and listless. Her employer was an angry man who thought nothing of venting his frustration on his employees. Shelly was seeking alternate employment, as well as a new home, but without secure income it was difficult to know how much rent she could afford. And, with her energy zapped by fumes at home and a fuming boss at work, she had a hard time facing the prospect of a move. Overwhelmed, she was frozen. I gently encouraged her to do just one thing to stop the negative spiral and get events building in a positive direction again.

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