I know first-hand what it feels like to reach a breaking point with the pressures of life. When you have so much on your plate, so much to do, so much stress that all you can to do is come home and veg in front of the television. Or when you are in a meeting and you are completely checked out, unable to focus on anything.
Here’s five strategies to counter overwhelm.
- Recognize it – with some appreciation. Overwhelm is a biological stress response. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. The recognition of being overwhelmed is a sign of self-awareness. Fighting it only adds to your stress. Appreciate that a conscientious, sensitive person is susceptible to being overwhelmed from time to time. Resist the natural reaction to get overwhelmed by being overwhelmed.
- Step back. When overcome with stress, it is important to step away from the situation to get some perspective. If you can’t step away physically, give yourself a five-minute mental break. You might need a day on a weekend to turn off your devices and take a complete break from the demands in your life.
- Investigate it. Resist the tendency to escape to devices, television or other vices, and instead take the time to reflect on any changes you need to make in your life. Get into nature for some relaxation. Call a trusted confidant. Do some journal writing. Sit quietly and practice listening to your inner knowing. What important values have you been neglecting? Pay particular attention to what you need to say NO to and what you need to start saying YES to.
- Break it down. Make a list of everything that is creating the overwhelm. Once you have written a list, separate it into three categories: (a) what needs to be done this week; (b) what needs to be done after this week; (c) things you need to say no to. Then pick the three things that need to be done today and have a “small giant” success.
- Plan a new structure. Start with defining what matters to you. Create space between a request and an impulse to say yes to prevent overwhelm in the future. And next time you get overwhelmed, appreciate that you are still learning.