Life is hard. There are literally hundreds of decisions that we need to make each day. There are scores of things on our ever-growing “To Do” lists.
Most of the time we are able to handle it. But sometimes, it overwhelms us.While it might not feel OK, it's OK not to be OK. Click To Tweet
No one is immune to the feeling of being overwhelmed. There is no season in life that does not shield us from being overwhelmed.
Toddlers and kids get overwhelmed. School-age kids, young adults, middle-aged adults, and seniors all can get overwhelmed.
Since we will all face the feeling of being overwhelmed, let’s be pro-active about how we will face it.
Step: 1 Understand Why You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
When that feeling of being inundated or overpower rises up within you, pause for a moment.
Take a deep series of breathes.
Try to name what is causing you to feel overwhelmed. Be as specific as you can.
- Do you have too many things to do and not enough time?
- Do you have a relationship that is unhealthy? Are you trying to do everything for everyone?
- Did you commit to a project or a person that you should have said “no” to but you didn’t want to disappoint them?
- Are being too optimistic about how much time it takes to do a task? Can you really get it done during your baby’s 30-minute nap or will it take more like an hour?
Fill in the blank. Right now, I am feeling overwhelmed because of _____________.
I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.
Step: 2 Admit That You Can’t Do It All
Admit to yourself that while it might not feel OK, it’s OK not to be OK.
Say it out loud.
It doesn’t matter if people are around you or not.
An article in The Atlantic explains that “Some studies have linked the repression of negative emotions to increased stress, and research suggests that writing about feelings is associated with better health”.
That same article references “a study people who lived to be 100 years old, emotional expression was found to be a common trait, along with a positive attitude towards life, among the long-lived.
So admit you can’t do it all and that you are overwhelmed.
That will help you get your head and heart clear so that you can then move towards a resolution.
Without taking action and making a plan, expressing your emotions becomes more like whining. We all know that whining doesn’t help you or anyone around you.
Step: 3 Your Next Steps
Once you have identified why you are feeling overwhelmed and verbally expressed it (even if “only” to yourself), you can start reclaiming your sanity and your life.
Immediate Steps To Take
- Go For a Walk
Whether it’s a quick walk around the office or down the block and back, walk away from the situation for a few minutes and let yourself process what’s happening.
- Control your breathing
Be mindful of your breathing. Instead of short and shallow, try to breathe deep- from your diaphragm.
- Ask For Help
Ask your children to set the table. Ask your coworker to proof read what you are writing.
- Ask yourself:
“Is what’s overwhelming me going to matter in 1, 5, or 10 years’ from now”?
Longer Term Steps
Get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper (physical or electronic). I know that when I write on paper, I am forced to put nebulous thoughts and feelings into concrete words and phrases. It helps me focus on what I’m thinking.
We all need to get our hearts pumping from actual work and not from stress. We all need 20-30 minutes of cardio a couple times a week. Walk at lunch. Throw a ball with your kids. Take the dog for a walk.
- Schedule “Me Time”<
We all need time to recharge. It might be 10 minutes in your car at lunch. It could be 5 minutes in the morning sipping your coffee by yourself. Whatever your “Me Time” looks like, do it for at least a total of 10 minutes a day.
- Get a planner
Whether you get a physical or electronic planner, it doesn’t matter. You need something to schedule your “To Do” list in.
- Schedule time to do projects
Don’t put projects on a “To Do” list. Break the project down into smaller parts and schedule time to do those parts. Schedule double the amount of time you think you will need.
Did I Miss Anything?
Do you have anything you do when you feel overwhelmed that I didn’t mention?
If so, please let me know if the comments below.