7 ways to tame Camino-planning overwhelm

You want to walk the Camino de Santiago, so you go online and start to do some research. You watch some YouTube videos, read some Facebook posts, maybe even search through the thousands of pilgrim-sourced questions and answers on the popular caminodesantiago.me forum.

Maybe you signed up for my email list and got your free copy of my Camino Planning Roadmap. Phew, at least you have an idea of what steps you will need to take to go from where you are now to your first steps on the trail.

But oh my goodness, there are so many steps! How do you keep from going mad with all the options and possibilities? With the eternal supply of tips, suggestions, and ideas that may or may not apply to the trip you are planning?

What do you do when you find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed and fatigued with the planning and preparing part of your Camino experience?

Here are seven ideas to bring you back down from the overwhelm ledge.

1. Go for a walk

Is it really that simple? Yes. Movement is medicine, and walking does two things you really need when you are feeling Camino-planning-overwhelmed: it helps to clear your mind, and it moves you along the path to training for the physical challenges of walking the Camino.

When you go for a stress-break walk, focus on your breathing and how your feet feel when they hit the earth with each step.

2. Connect

Find a friend or family member to join you on your walk or for a coffee. Talk about anything other than the Camino! Or share honestly about how you are feeling about your upcoming pilgrimage. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, try reaching out to other pilgrims online. There are plenty of Facebook groups that are filled with pilgrims eager to chat about your upcoming pilgrimage.

Maybe what’s got you feeling overwhelmed is the idea of taking on this huge pilgrimage on your own. Walking solo isn’t for everyone, despite what you read online.

To take off that edge, you could join one of my groups that start in Saint Jean Pied de Port in May and September each year. Why wait until you get to Saint Jean to make your first Camino friends or to form your Camino family? We meet monthly on Zoom to get ready together and get to know each other. Check out the Walk With Me page on my website to get the whole scoop.

3. Meditate

Sit in a comfortable, quiet spot and focus on your breathing. With each breath imagine you are walking under a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds. Feel the emotions that come with that sense of freedom.

Imagine yourself in Santiago de Compostela at the end of your pilgrimage. Your body is strong, and your heart is open. Now what is possible?

Set an alarm for 5, 10, or 15 minutes – or however much time you can take away from your day.

4. Journal

Sometimes all you need is to get your messy thoughts out of your head and into the open where you can see them. Journaling is perfect for this. If your mind is all a jumble, simply grab a pen and paper and write it all out, free form, without editing. Try not to hold back or censor your thoughts; just dump.

Another tactic is to follow a writing prompt. For example, you could ask yourself one of the following questions and let the overwhelm seep out through your pen:

>> What am I worried about? Why is this worrying me? And then after each response, ask again: why is that?

>> What am I longing for when I dream about walking the Camino?

>> Who will I be after walking the Camino?

>> How will I know I had the experience I wanted?

5. Make a plan

Would you feel better with a practical tactic that will yield results right away? Grab your Camino notebook and a pen and make a plan.

What are your highest priorities right now? Make a list and assign either an A (top priority, work on this first), a B (things you need to do, but the house isn’t on fire yet), or a C (this will be fun, but it can wait for now).

What A-priority can you whittle away at right now? Take that one step today.

6. Schedule Camino time

Pull out your calendar and find a one- to two-hour window when you can fully attend to your Camino to-do list. At the scheduled time, grab your notebook and set an alarm for however long you have. When the alarm goes off, take a deep breath, schedule your next Camino planning window, and then set down your pen and move on to whatever is next in your schedule.

7. Call me

If you have signed up for one of my paid programs, you have me as your resource – all your questions answered, encouragement when you need it, practical tips and tools to bring your plans together.

For some serious one-on-one assistance, check out Camino Coaching with Nancy.

For the full-on do-it-yourself-er, check out the DIY-plus Camino Planning Program.

And if you know your best Camino experience will come from being part of a group of other enthusiastic first-time pilgrims, stop by the Walk With Me page.