Are you one of those people who can’t seem to stop “doing?”
I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt overwhelmed from time to time. Since it tends to feel uncomfortable, if not downright unpleasant, we tend to view it as negative and as a weakness. We don’t dare to admit we are overwhelmed or dare to talk about it, which can leave us feeling isolated and alone, further exacerbating the feeling.
We often deny we are overwhelmed because we do not know how to stop the frantic behavior that leads to this feeling. So we do nothing. Our employers, colleagues, or friends often do not help support us to stop overworking.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Primarily, this syndrome occurs in our work life but it can carry over to our personal and family life, and it frequently does. Focusing on projects often begins with good intentions, but we can quickly and easily be overwhelmed if we do not have a plan to minimize and balance our work. Getting the project finalized for your team, writing the copy for your website, designing the new sales brochure, or completing the 90-day marketing plan is extremely important – but having a balanced, healthy life is equally important.
This stressful pattern is telling you to change your life! Once you get this message, it is easier to identify the steps you need to take to shift out of the behavior quickly.
How to Combat Feeling Overwhelmed
1. Stop what you are doing for a few minutes and take a break.
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks can actually help you be more productive in the long run. When you're feeling overwhelmed, your brain can start to feel foggy and you may find it hard to concentrate. Taking a short break to go for a walk, listen to some music, or just take a few deep breaths can help clear your mind and give you a renewed sense of focus.
Following are helpful strategies gleaned from my personal experience and from my work with people who are burned out, growing cranky, frustrated, and even depressed. These strategies immediately diminish feelings of being overwhelmed so you can refocus and make some work/life balance decisions.
Speaking of deep breaths, let's talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. It's a great tool for combatting overwhelm because it helps you stay grounded and centered. You can practice mindfulness in many different ways, such as meditation, yoga, or even just taking a few minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breath.
2. Get a piece of paper and make two columns.
In one column, list urgent things you need to do this week. In the other column, list those projects that you can delegate, or hire to be done.
3. Ask for help when you need it
Don't forget to ask for help when you need it. Feeling overwhelmed can make you feel like you're all alone, but the truth is that everyone struggles with it at some point. Talk to a friend or family member, or even a professional if you need to. There's no shame in admitting that you need help, and it can make a huge difference in how you feel.
4. Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate
Unsubscribe to unnecessary e-mail, organize your desk and office to decrease clutter, stop attending meetings, get off committees, and decrease volunteering at fundraisers unless you have a total passion for the organization and the cause.
5. Set Boundaries
Sometimes, feeling overwhelmed can come from saying "yes" to too many things. It's important to set boundaries and learn to say "no" when you need to. This can be hard, especially if you're a people pleaser, but it's important to prioritize your own needs and mental health.
6. Do not spend time with people whom you do not like
Assess your friends and business colleagues. Do they support and honor who you are? If they are negative and don’t share your vision for your dreams, don’t spend another minute with them.
7. Prioritize Sleep
When we're feeling overwhelmed, it's easy to sacrifice sleep in order to get more done. But in the long run, this can actually make things worse. Prioritize getting enough sleep each night, and consider creating a relaxing bedtime routine to help you unwind.
8. Practice Self-Care
This can mean different things to different people, but the key is to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Maybe it's taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, or treating yourself to a favorite food. Whatever it is, make sure you're taking care of yourself.
9. Use the mantra: I don’t do overwhelm!
Everytime you start to feel overwhelmed say- out loud if you can, or to yourself if needed “I don’t do overwhelm!” And take a few deep breaths. Say it a few times until you feel your body start to relax. After saying this over and over you will train your brain to believe that you just don't overwhelm in your life. In turn, you will start to naturally adapt some of the strategies mentioned above because your brain will believe it doesn’t accept overwhelm and you will find ways to eliminate overwhelm from your life.
Feeling overwhelmed is a normal part of life, but it doesn't have to control you. By trying out some of these strategies and finding what works for you, you can take control of your life and start feeling more in balance. Remember to be patient with yourself, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We're all in this together!