It's not difficult to become overwhelmed these days.
Modern day living is fast paced and laced with distractions. More and more people are living with chronic stress, and it's no surprise. We say yes when we're rather say no. We're forever thinking about the next thing. We feel guilty for slowing down and stopping.
If you're feeling overwhelmed right now or are prone to periods of overwhelming, I hope what I share below serves you.
Rest and Reassure.
First step. When I notice I'm getting overwhelmed, I'll press the pause button.
I'll either go for a short walk, close my eyes, meditate or maybe take a nap, it depends on where I am at the time. I'll always do my best to retreat momentarily to a different environment.
I've learned what we really don't need when we feel Overwhelmed, contrary to popular belief, is MORE doing. At least not in the beginning. That would be like attempting to put out a fire by adding more fire.
Once I've paused and rested for as along as I need/is possible, I'll reassure myself.
I'll reassure myself that this feeling of overwhelm will pass because I've experienced it before and it's passed, In fact, I've got a 100% track record of dealing with it. Like any feeling, good or bad, it's passed.
I view my Rest and Reassure step almost as my mental preparation, like a Boxer psyching himself up before he makes his way to the Ring. Winning the fight in our heads first, makes victory for real more likely.
In 2013, I was backpacking in New Zealand. For a few months towards the end of my trip, I lived in a picturesque town called Hanmer Springs, hidden in dense Forest and overlooked by towering snow capped mountains. In exchange for living in small wooden hut in a Forest Camp, I would help out around the camp for a couple of hours each morning. The volunteers and I shared a living space which included a living room, dining and area and large kitchen where we'd prepare meals.
One morning I was sat at the kitchen table eating lunch when the manager of the Camp, Duncan, popped in to say hello. His mouth dropped when he saw the state of the kitchen.
Dirty dishes stacked high in the sink whilst the on the kitchen surfaces lay chopping boards topped with unwanted vegetable peelings.
''Best take care of that once you've finished eating mate'', Duncan said, ''A tidy house equals a tidy mind''. I've never forgotten his words. Firstly, because it was the first time I'd heard this expression. Secondly, because it's bloody true.
, when I'm feeling overwhelmed and untidy in my head, this is reflected externally in the form of a desk laden with coffee cups and unfiled papers or a sink full of pots and pans in need of washing, (I've clearly a procrastinator when it comes to washing up).
Interestingly, when I'm feeling overwhelmed and untidy in my head, this is reflected externally in the form of a desk laden with coffee cups and unfiled papers or a sink full of pots and pans in need of washing, (I've clearly a procrastinator when it comes to washing up).
So the first thing I do when feeling overwhelmed is to have a bit of a tidy up. Even it means drying and putting away a few dishes, just something, to make create some physical (and mental) space.
There the reason for this is to show myself I'm taking action. When we feel overwhelmed, it can feel like we have 101 things to do, right? Well by tidying up, de-cluttering, even on a small scale, we're taking action. Once we've completed a task, we get rewarded by a little burst of dopamine in the brain, which is why it feels good to tick items off of a list once complete.
I think of my Creating Space step as a small win: it gets me into action and feeling a little better.
A habit I've tackled over the last couple of years is Multi-tasking, having read several articles (one at a time, of course) on how Multi-tasking is terrible for productivity. Someone may boast ''Oh yeah, I'm great at Multi-tasking'' but the simple truth is we work far more effectively when focusing on just one task at a time. It may seem like we're multi-tasking but in reality, we're doing several jobs at once, badly compared to focusing each job individually.
When I feel overwhelmed, it's because I lack clarity on what I should be focusing on and when we don't create Clarity, we get Chaos. Which looks like me juggling all of my to-dos in my head, floating aimlessly from one unimportant task to the next, multi-tasking and getting distracted.
How do I create Clarity? Usually by asking questions.
I'll look at my goals and reverse engineer by asking the question, ''What needs to happen now in order for my goal to happen in the future''?
I may ask myself ''What is my next best move''?
I'll also take a Braindump. Meaning I'll write down on paper all the tasks, to-dos and reminders flying around my head at the time. Once they're down on paper, they're easier to manage. I can then decide what I'll do and when, ensuring I'm doing the most important tasks first.
Once I've rested and reassured, creating some space and creating clarity, then I get to work and start to take action. Not before making myself a cup of Coffee, sticking on some high energy music and setting a timer for no longer than 55 minutes. In those 55 minutes I'm crystal clear on what I'm working on and I've limited all distractions meaning my mobile is on flight mode and all Social Media tabs on my laptop are closed. In no time at all, the feeling overwhelmed has melted away.
If you enjoyed this and want more inspiration & tools to think better, feel better, and live better - then here is what you can do right now...
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