I can do overwhelm pretty well.
Once upon a time overwhelm was practically my profession. I'd think about "everything there was to do!" and come to a complete standstill or want to pass out.
I still get overwhelmed at times, BUT I’ve figured some tips to pull back on my reigns and go from “OMG I’m so behind!” to “It's all good.”
1 - Accepting what is
Feel like you're being pelted with requests and have a ton of deadlines?
Or, maybe your house flooded, your kid is sick, and your husband just got laid off.
Start by saying, "This is what is." You can even say this to the feeling of overwhelm, "Okay, I'm feeling really overwhelmed right now. This is what is."
Fully accepting what is removes the energy of resistance. Without resistance you can look at the situation with a clearer mind and begin to prioritize and take action.
2 - Break it down and make it tiny
A friend of mine, Laura, recently told me that she was overwhelmed with the state of her house. She’s a sleep-deprived, part-time-working mom with a newborn and a toddler at home.
We started to break down the task of cleaning her house to make it tiny, starting with the one location she'd enjoy having clean first (the kitchen).
Then we went smaller, choosing one area (the sink). Then smaller to one task (emptying the dishwasher). Then went tiny (just the plates). Go so tiny that it feels ridiculously easy to do. Then – and this is important (it’s also step #5) – I suggested she “treat” herself, which she decided would be fresh flowers by her sink.
Before she knew it the dishwasher was empty, the sink was clean and she had fresh flowers by her sink that delighted her.
Whatever is causing your overwhelm, start with one "room" and keep breaking it down. This process simplifies it in your mind and builds momentum to move forward.
3 - Remove the unnecessary
Choose one thing in your life that doesn't feel good and adds to your overwhelm and drop it. Immediately.
Too much on your calendar? Cancel something now.
Tired of cleaning your house? Hire someone else to do it.
Too many emails? Unsubscribe to something you never read.
Your mental, emotional, and physical space is precious. Look at what doesn't feel good and start removing those pieces now.
4 - Focus on this moment
The spin of thoughts, tasks, to-do's tends to keep us mentally playing in the past or the future.
Put your attention on whatever is present in this moment - that's it. Maybe it's the sun on your face or an email you're reading. Be with whatever it is that you are doing.
Be aware if you start to spend lots of time thinking of what you have to do next. That yanks you right out of the present moment and often times back into overwhelm city.
5 - Treat yourself
I treat myself ALL-OF-THE-TIME. It’s almost hard to call my treats "treats" anymore because they’re more like the norm, but when I do “treat” myself I savor it.
I love to take a spoon and swirl it through the foamy top of a latte before taking my first sip. I notice the aroma, the taste, the sweetness of fully enjoying the warmth of my treat.
Other treats are a new song from iTunes, fresh flowers, hot bath, dinner out. The list goes on.
Try the five steps the next time overwhelm starts knocking on your door. Your brain will dial back on stress hormones and you’ll also give yourself a boost of dopamine from the treat.
Bottom line – you’ll feel better. That’s where your best life really begins, isn’t it?
Post a comment or shoot me a line if you’re feeling overwhelmed and tried the steps. I’d love to hear your thoughts!