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4 Steps To Reduce Overwhelm

Written by: Melanie Ashley, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Melanie Ashley

In today's fast-paced world of inactivity and digitalization and constantly pushing boundaries, it is easy to lose touch with what keeps us grounded. You, as entrepreneurs and leaders, are likely to know this all too well.  The quest for success can often leave little room for self-care, yet it is in the quiet moments of mindfulness and reflection that true strength lyes.

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Photographer: Gina Massie 2nd year photography student at Hertfordshire University

Pathway to Peacefulness

This is where holistic wellness can offer a path to balance in the relentless pursuit of your goals, by integrating mindfulness-based stress management as part of your daily routine. It is about more than just physical health or mental wellness. It is about connecting deeply with your inner truth, ethics, and wisdom nurturing your spirit alongside your ambitions. 

Without this, ‘stress’ related symptoms may seep into our body, emotional & nervous systems as well as our psychology which can lead to dis-harmony and disease. 

“According to NICE, an estimated 13.7 million workdays are lost every year in the UK due to work-related stress, anxiety, and depression, costing £28.3 billion in lost productivity.” ¹


Today, this state of being- of living with overwhelm; living on the edge of burnout; feeling physically and mentally exhausted - is pretty much epidemic to the point it can be considered as the normal state and acceptable until one day you crash! 

Just as you would plan a strategy to meet organizational goals, crafting your uniqueness and recognizing your core values that are woven into every thought, action and behavior can help elevate wellness into the fabric of your busy life. Let us explore this together with the end goal of preventing, or recovering from, mental exhaustion to a place of peace within the chaos. 

Top tips to avoid burnout


This is where the importance of a structured program shines brightest so inner resilience becomes your core. It is a Pathway to Peacefulness. 

This is a structured program designed according to your own constitution, and includes practices chosen to optimize your well-being. It acknowledges the vulnerability that comes with leadership and offers tools for assertiveness and compassion towards oneself and others. It is also created in collaboration which can help you take ownership of your own wellness. 

Plan for integrated holistic health

Let us peel back the layers and take a glimpse of how we can plan for inner wellness and support when in the middle of a life-draining change; such as sudden increased responsibilities, increased expectations, relentless changes within the political and economic world and so much more, including changes within one’s personal life. 


There are 6 layers to consider


There are 6 layers – based on yoga for anxiety and stress – also found in other traditional, indigenous practices include: 

  • one’s Physicality and how to harmonize the systems of the body, 

  • how to grasp the power of Positioning one's state of mind and emotional intelligence according to the demands of the circumstances 

  • how to ignite your Passion through heightening the 5 senses to the subtle world 

  • acknowledge your intuition and inner knowing through the vibration we call Psalm

  • the Psychology of where you are in your life's journey. 

  • together we can develop a single Practice based on the fusion of many 


These 6 layers are blended all together – seamlessly and energetically in a complimentary way across 4 stages in the path to reduce the feeling of overwhelm. 

Each layer is divided across 4 steps 


Rather than thinking about the body as a set of chemical reactions we think about the body as a living organism that is part of nature and the elements which create it. These elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. This is commonly referred to as The Elemental Theory. Such metaphors allow us to explore each layer objectively. 


This is supported by the biophilia theory which hypothesizes that humans strongly and positively possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. ²


Let us look at the 4 steps to reduce overwhelm


Step one Create a foundation of wellness: Restore and re-align

Based on the Elemental Theory we are using the qualities of Earth & Water to create a foundation of health and wellness within the mind, body, soul, and spirit. 


This can be achieved by: 

  • better breathing for improve oxygenation 

  • stabilising the biological systems of the body 

Merged with 

  • creating a sense of inner calmness 

  • appropriate meditations to heightened senses 

As well as: 

  • activating reservoirs of energy to stabilize the nervous system 

  • building an awareness of where you are within the life cycle of personal growth 


This makes the approach more than yoga for anxiety and stress and more than focusing on physical wellness. It is about synchronising the 6 layers which make us complete by balancing the qualities of Earth & Water at each layer to create a foundation of inner wellness. 

Just as the soil helps to create stability AND acts as a container for the water, so the mind and body need to be stable to provide a container for the overflow of emotions and heightened nerves - which causes stress and anxiety.


This can be likened to providing the safety, warmth, and nutrients necessary for seeds to grow. This is important when the mind and body are trapped in the cycle of Fight-Flight-Freeze. 


The result is to start a process of recovery from stress and burnout whilst developing a sense of being centered and focused, thus enabling the practitioner to self-manage their own physicality, mind & emotions whilst remaining true to their soul’s health. 


But we want more!

Step two Optimize your inner wellness through embodied integration


 This step is about building energy to improve resilience so you can recover quickly from perceived stressful situations. The element is fire. Too much heat and you burn. Not enough and there are just the embers of a flame. Just the right amount provides warmth. 


Building the fire within the body’s system takes care. The methodology for someone who is ‘burn-out’ is quite different from someone who is ablaze. 

An integrated practice would fuse physical activities with appropriate meditation, visualization, and breath work, so your entire being can be revitalized. By this I mean either re-ignited or brought to a place of calmness. 


Stabilizing the inner fire so it supports the mind body soul and spirit means: 

  • improving oxygenation and energy by building lung capacity

  • harmonizing your metabolism by embracing physical yoga principles 

  • managing the inner dialogue of the mind which links to our behavior by developing sense awareness

  • developing the practices and rituals to help weave the 6 layers together harmoniously and according to the individual constitution. 

This step is designed to re-build confidence and resilience to be ever present within a dynamic, unpredictable, and ambiguous environment, without your soul being dampened or ignited. 


Step three Transcend mental exhaustion by opening your energy channels

Building on the groundwork of the previous steps, this phase encourages the practitioner to access their passions and desires, providing purpose and direction; This we call Opening Your Sensory Channels. We do this by focussing the mind, breathing consciously with heightened sensory awareness of what the mind witnesses or observes sensations within the body and the environment that it is in. 

In 1936 Sir Thomas Lewis authored a report in the British Medical Journal highlighting an additional system in the body – the energetic system – in addition to the central nervous system and the automatic nervous system. He describes a subtle pathway of energy flow within the body. ³


Energy can be defined as ‘the ability to direct the mind with focus whilst breathing consciously.’ 

In this step we develop our sensitivity to notice the energetic flow, as it clears the mind. A clear mind can act as a radar to one's inner state, bringing the heart felt passion, hope and direction and clarity for life's adventure. 

 Here the concept of working within ‘possibilities’ rather than ‘probabilities’ creates a lightness and invites a new way of thinking. It also allows our consciousness to connect with the creative arts and understand how the elements of nature live within us, so we never feel disconnected again. 


Such is the lightness of the Element of AIR which is find within each of the practices associated with each layer. 

Step four Connect with abundance & embrace the future

Transcending physical exhaustion and mental exhaustion provides the pathway to remembering who we are and how we fit into the global evolving creative consciousness. 


The element here is Ether. 

Working with the intangible. It is taking a leap of faith. It is connecting with something greater than us that influences our existence. This may mean an appreciation for the life-giving energy of the sun for example or the curiosity of how everything was so perfectly created – such as the birth of a newborn. By resolving past influences, and societal pressures – from Step 1, building energy in Step 2 and remembering our purpose in Step 3, this 4th step helps to explore WHY and WHAT does this mean to me and those closest to me. The WHY could even be chunked up to a global level. How do I contribute to the global world 


It is a re-discovery of the power of dreaming positively so a perceived reality in the imagination can be realized. This space is called The Imaginal in psychology. It allows us to take note of creative wisdom as another source of information to nourish and guide you through life's journey, knowing how you fit in and are connected to a higher purpose. This can help rejuvenate confidence in personal values, ethics, beliefs, and actions taken every day. However, without grounding in reality - dreaming positively is simply an ungrounded fantasy. 

In summary

Each step creates a route towards living a life based on personal values and ethics where the inner world mirrors and harmonizes with the outer world. It helps the practitioner to transform experience of chaos, chronic stress, and burnout to reconnecting with their inner truth, values and purpose using their innate gifts. More than that, it also helps the partitioner to recognize when heading out of balance as well as proving the tools to bring them back into balance. It offers choice according to their own map. Plus offer the appropriate practice to choose to help navigate back to the alignment. 

“Perhaps we'll never know how far the path can go, how much a human being can truly achieve, until we realize that the ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself. To be a learner, you have to be willing to be a fool. At the heart of each of us, whatever the imperfections” - George Leonard author of numerous books on human possibilities and social change.

It is a never ending, forever evolving story, navigated by practice. 

Enjoy your journey. 

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Melanie Ashley Brainz Magazine

Melanie Ashley, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Melanie helps overworked and exhausted professionals navigate through draining life changes. She helps them find mental clarity, physical strength and emotional balance by them to reconnect with their personal truths, purpose and motivations. Melanie does this by uncovering hidden gifts, building energetic practices and opening the realm of possibilities to create a unique practice for each person.



[3] The Big Little Book of Yoga by Howard Kent, page 75

Credit Photographer:

  • Gina Massie 2nd year photography student at Hertfordshire University 



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