Since the beginning of time every one of us has experienced overwhelm in some way. Often times this is at our jobs but can easily and equally be true for our home or social life. Here are three things you can do right now if you feel overwhelmed.
1. Pause if you feel overwhelmed
Personally, I feel overwhelmed at least once a week. It’s no secret we’re living in crazy times. Juggling work, family and remote learning is enough for anyone to feel overwhelmed.
I used to struggle with knowing when the overwhelm feeling was coming on until it was too late. I’d be going a million miles per minute and then BAM! It would hit me all at once.
I’d find myself looking, feeling and sounding like a crazy person. What I didn’t realize is I was saying yes to everyone and everything.
Can you run this errand for me? Yes! Can we have a play date three days in a row? Yes! Can you volunteer for this event? Yes! Can you take on these three extra projects at work? Yes! How about trying to add in a little retail therapy for myself on top of it? Maybe.
I was a yes girl for sure. There was nothing off limits and I placed all my value on doing everything for everyone else. I felt guilty if I even thought about saying no.
My head would be on autopilot with the yes’ and my heart would be whispering no. I subconsciously knew it wasn’t a good idea. I pushed myself to a state of exhaustion on the regular and couldn’t figure out why it felt so hard to function.
What helped me not feel overwhelmed:
Recognizing this was happening was the hardest part. My sweetheart called it out early on when we met and started getting to know each other (Thank God!)
He noticed every time I was stressed out it was because I agreed to do something for someone else. He would challenge if I really needed to say yes to everything. He would also point out when I felt like I was going to break.
Once I began looking at my own habits, I realized he was right. There was no way any human being could function at an operable level with the schedule I was agreeing to create.
I slowly started to say no to things.
I’m a people pleaser by nature so this was next to impossible at first. I’m not going to lie, it didn’t feel good. I felt like I was letting everyone down. But then I realized, it was all in my head.
I had a false belief if I didn’t say yes to everyone else I would be failing.
I started to base my decisions on whether the opportunity served my goals or not. If it didn’t, it was an easy no. I would pause and think it over before immediately reacting in the moment like I used to.
Reacting without pausing is a quick way for others to realize they can take advantage of you.
It will feel selfish at first. Learning to say no to the things that don’t serve you will get you to your dreams so much quicker.
2. Prioritize self-care
Prioritizing self-care is flat out hard. Especially when you’re a mom with 99 jobs a day. I don’t know about you but I tend to put everyone else’s needs before my own.
Then, when everyone else is taken care of I might feel like it’s ok to do something for myself. Do you struggle with this too?
It’s ok, it’s natural to feel this way, but we must recognize it and prioritize ways to care for ourselves. If you can’t care for yourself, you can’t care for anyone else!
It took me a long time to learn that one. To be honest, it’s still something I struggle with from time to time today. It’s easy to put yourself last when there are so many demands all around us.
If you feel overwhelmed, try doing the following things:
- Meditate for 10 minutes a day. Spend this time focusing on what you want your life to look AND feel like. Envision you living that life.
- Insight Timer is a great app that has guided meditations if you don’t feel comfortable on your own. I’ve used this one for the last year.
- Practice breathing exercises. As someone who suffers from anxiety, this one has been super helpful to me. When I start to feel overwhelmed I stop and go to quiet space. I take a deep breath in, counting to four, hold for four, then exhale for four. I do this at least three times until I feel calm. This exercise is great because you can do it anywhere with no equipment required!
- Take a walk. This is something I aim to do 3 – 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes at a time. I’ll put in my air pods and listen to upbeat music or whatever book I’m currently reading. I recently learned that we all have a vitamin D deficiency. This is because our bodies have a harder time synthesizing it as we get older. Spending time in the sun is a great way to boost happiness and not feel overwhelmed.
- Read a good book. Call me old school but I’m a sucker for having a physical book in hand and cozying up with a blanket. I still listen to audio books but I frequently have one of each going at a time. Personally, sitting down and having quiet time to flip through the pages of a book is so satisfying. Reading helps you narrow your thoughts and bring your focus in on one topic. This is better than overwhelming our minds with the usual chaos.
3. Detach from digital
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re hearing this. At least I hope it’s not!
At any given moment we have technology at our fingertips. At a red light? Pull out your phone! In the bathroom? Check your phone! Waiting for a file to download to your computer? Browse the web! Wondering what your friends are up to? Jump onto social media.
It’s way too easy to get caught up in the digital space. Studies show too much screen time is leading to depression and anxiety.
Why? Because we see, fantasize and obsess over others’ highlight reels. Social media or media outlets are not accurate representations of a person’s life.
I have to practice detaching from digital extra hard since my job lives in the digital space. I spent a lot of my early years in blogging playing the comparison game.
I found myself comparing my brand new digital babies to other’s who had been in the game for years. I now remind myself, no two people’s journey’s look the same and no two people’s goals are the same.
If you feel overwhelmed by digital space, create rules and boundaries for yourself.
What helped me:
- Stay off your phone when your alarm goes off. Get out of bed.
- Practice a morning routine that doesn’t involve being deep in your phone or computer. (See self-care tips above and read here.)
- Only allow social media during breaks like lunch, snack, etc but not dinner or for hours on end during the day.
- No electronics while spending time on family activities.
- Shut work down when your stopping time arrives. If you’re like me, this one can be hard but you can do it!
Summary – If you feel overwhelmed
If you feel overwhelmed try these tips for the next week. I promise you will feel relief.
Do you have other ways to combat overwhelm?
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