5 things you can do to get out from under the pile of ‘overwhelm’ – come up for air and breathe
The dictionary says this about the word ‘overwhelm’:
To bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something, especially water.
What to do when everything closes in – the dark place of ‘overwhelm
For some, this is a familiar place on a way too frequent basis, usually the symptom of entrepreneurs or working parents, but many others also suffer this unproductive and uncomfortable state, too often.
If you have ever felt confused, weighed down, stressed and grumpy by a never ending list of things to do, swimming around in your foggy head, chances are you have experienced what many call ‘overwhelm’.
For me and those around me this is not a good place for me to be in, mentally or physically. I forget things, don’t sleep well past 4am, find myself snappy and irritable, and in a constant state of stress. This space is usually very un-productive.
Here are 5 things I have found that can lift the fog and help re focus energy and time:
- TIME OUT: Take a morning off, ASAP, as soon as you recognise you are here, go for a walk, then sit down and make a massive list, categorise if you must but make a list of everything you need to do, everything that is in your head.
- Make sub lists from this list and put in categories of priority, personal, work and other. Just this task of getting out of my head and on paper splits the stress literally in HALF, because now I can’t forget anything, it is all on paper.
- GET ‘YOU’ IN THE PICTURE: Re look at your diary, your schedule, remove some things to make some space for you, and the things that ‘feed’ your mind, body and soul… At least 3-4 times a week. SMALL things count – I used to think I needed to get to a yoga class for 90 mins (plus travel) or the gym for an hour for it to count….then it just wouldn’t happen, when I discovered the scientific fact that 10 mins of walking somewhere pretty can change your brain chemistry completely, I started looking at this time differently. I make time 3-4 mornings a week to walk my dog, just 30 mins in our local park, I dance once a week, and I train in martial arts (my favourite sport) 1-2 times depending but a minimum of once. The park walks serve a few things, I love nature and how it soothes my soul, reminds me of my place on this earth, connects me to creation and also gives my body the movement it needs, it clears my mind, I solve problems among the trees.
NOTE: I used the words ‘make time’ ? We can all find time to fit in what we deem to be important, I realised that I am important, so cleared some things off my plate.
- TIME CHUNKING: Look at the way you schedule things in your diary, if you are self-employed you CAN choose your hours, set them on a calendar, and then schedule in what you do in that time, this is a discipline that takes time to implement if you have been a little loose on this. I use TIME CHUNKING, I put things in blocks of time I think they will take, for things like my walk, they REPEAT every week, on the odd occasion I have to move them but it is a choice and usually only once in any one week.
- SAY NO nicely: Learn to say no, if you have so much on your plate there is no room for you, look at what you can possibly take off. Ask yourself these questions on each thing that takes up your time. These are for things you have on your plate that you want to check in about:
- Why am I involved in this?
- Why did I say Yes?
- Is this part of my overall purpose in life?
- Does this energise me or drain me?
- Why am I holding on to it?
- If you choose to let it go, plan how you will say ‘no nicely’
What to consider BEFORE saying YES to new things:
What REAL time is involved in this? Do I have the time easily available? What will have to move off my diary in order to fit this in? (NOTE If is YOU time that needs to move, seriously consider saying NO) What is my motive for saying yes?
ALWAYS say you want to think about it, so you have time to process taking on new things, even this will give you freedom and less pressure. If they can’t give you time, then perhaps you just say NO right away.
- ASK for help: Or Delegate. What can someone else be doing for you? Giving jobs that don’t light you up, or asking others for help with children, chores or tasks can give others the opportunity to do something nice for you OR something they love doing! Instead of seeing it as weakness, see it as allowing others to work in their strengths.
- You can pay people, barter time or ask a favour, depending on what it is there is always a way to get some help with the things that are on your plate that you can’t get rid of.
- This frees you up to get on with the things that energise you and are part of your overall purpose in life.
- I don’t like housework, I like getting help with this on a regular basis and giving chores to my kids, does this mean I never do it? NO, It all just doesn’t land on me and that feels good.
Final note: YOU are important, that is why they say in the flight emergency briefing put YOUR OWN oxygen mask on first before attending to children, WHY? Because if you stop breathing you are NO good to anyone.
You have stuff to do in this world that only you can do, and when you are living in balance to the best of your ability most of the time you are WAY more effective, productive, have better health, relationships and enjoy life rather than just get through each day.
Yours in freedom