3 Tips for Dealing with Overwhelm
Feeling overwhelmed is something we all experience from time to time and we all have a different ‘overwhelm threshold.’ I tend to get overwhelmed fairly easily at times but I know my triggers and know how to nip it in the bud before it gets too much, so I wanted to share some tips that work for me.
I look at some people who have SO much on their plates and wonder how the heck they do it and how they ever manage to feel balanced, or happy! Some people thrive on being busy, busy, busy but what about when it gets too much?
Tip #1: Get perspective
When we are spinning loads of plates it’s easy to think we are the centre of the Universe. You become fixated on everything you have to do and how that is making you feel. Usually downright stressed, anxious and exhausted, if you’re in overwhelm territory. We kid ourselves that if we don’t do every single thing on our lists the world will end. It won’t.
Think of yourself (and your to-do list) in the context of the entire world, or the Universe even. Something I like to do is get quiet for a few moments, close my eyes and imagine I have a bird’s eye view of myself. I then imagine this bird’s eye view zooming out little by little. I’m sat in my home and that’s all I visualise at first, but then I see myself in my street, and then in my city, then my country. Slowly I become a teeny little spec in the vast expanse of the world around me. I meditate on that for a while and it can be really powerful.
When we allow ourselves to see ourselves and our situations in the context of the wider world, containing so many people who are all dealing with their own stuff, we lessen our focus on what we have going on.
Tip #2: Simplify to amplify
This little nugget of wisdom is from the wonderful human that is Marie Forleo and I posted about this on my Instagram feed the other day as I wanted to share how powerful these 3 little words have been for me.
When I heard Marie say this in a video I instantly grabbed a post-it note, scribbled it down and put it up on my vision board so I could see it everyday. We just love to make things way too complicated don’t we? We overload ourselves and have way too many expectations of ourselves (and others). If we’re constantly trying to focus on a gazzillion things then we will never get anything done.
Think about what your top priorities are for the day and make it your mission to complete these things, and anything else is an added bonus. I like to give myself a main focus for the week ahead, rather than thinking of ALL the things I want to accomplish. Get the important stuff done first (often the stuff we tend to want to leave until last). The sense of achievement when you tick those things off your list will give you momentum to keep going.
Tip #3: Ask yourself if it really matters
When you find yourself being ‘busy’ ask yourself if what you’re doing actually matters. Is it going to contribute to your end goal? Is it going to make your life any easier or more enriched? If not, really think about whether it’s worth allowing it to contribute to making you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Do you need to prepare every course from scratch for your dinner party? Probably not. No-one will know. Use the time chilling out or focusing on something that really does matter instead.
There are times when I have something I really need to work on and it’s my top priority that needs my full attention for a good few hours. However, I find myself clearing out the contents of my food cupboards. This, my friend, is called procrastination. We all do it and when we fall into this trap, all we are doing is adding to the impending overwhelm.
As soon as I start clearing out the food cupboard (or doing any other non-essential task) a hint of guilt and ickyness sets in. I know I’m procrastinating and it makes me dread the important tasks I need to do even more and they become an even bigger deal in my head. All this unnecessary mental ‘tug of war’ would have been totally avoided if I’d done the important tasks first.
We are our own worst enemy at times. It’s hard to see the wood for the trees and that’s why I call upon these strategies above when things get too much. They work for me, and I hope they will work for you too.
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