There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about overwhelm. It seems every person I talk to is struggling with the suffocating feeling of overwhelm. And it makes me cringe, because I’ve been there too, I remember how consuming the feeling is.
But it’s really hard to step off the mouse-wheel of life. It’s not as simple as saying ‘stop’. The world doesn’t work like that. The key to dealing with overwhelm is to face it in the exact same way that it took over; step by step.
We don’t suddenly realise we are gasping for air. It is like a pancake stack. A big pancake stack. It’s one thing on top of another, on top of another, until whoops! You realise how wobbly you are and if you take on just one more thing, you will topple over and the result with be a sticky mess!
So speaking from a place of experience I’m offering these three tips to lessen the feeling of overwhelm and bringing simplicity back into your life. Little by little.
1. Go off the grid.
No I’m not suggesting moving to a shack in the middle of nowhere, (although at times that’s quite an appealing thought), no, just simply disconnecting yourself a little. Distancing yourself from always being available.
If you are like me, and old enough to remember what it was like before mobile phones – go there. Remember the world didn’t fall apart because you are unable to be contacted during your commute to work, or while out for a walk. Nowadays though we almost start shaking if we don’t know where our mobile phone is!
You need to tackle this head on. Take a moment to sit down and really be honest with yourself how often each day you check your emails, Facebook or social media of preference. Be honest. You probably won’t like the answer, but you don’t have to tell anyone, you simply have to acknowledge how much of your day is being, dare I say it – wasted.
Then try allocating specific time for these things. Only check emails once every two hours. Allocate 15 minutes in the morning, and the same in the afternoon to spend on social media. Turn off your phone while you are working or exercising. You’ll be amazed at the difference even this simple change will make. It’s actually quite liberating and exciting not being ‘available’.
2. Stop being so hard on yourself.
You are not mother/wife/father/husband/employee/boss/business owner-of-the-year. And it’s unrealistic to try and strive to be.
You are enough without trying to be everything to everyone. Give yourself a break.
If the dishes don’t get done, so be it. If the bed isn’t made, does it really matter? If you don’t get to school pick up right on time, it’s okay.
We live in a world that tells us every day to be the best you can, strive for brilliance, aim for the stars. All sound advice when put into perspective. The problem is, we take it too literally.
We compare ourselves to others trying to do the same and even if we don’t realise we are doing it, we are subconsciously trying to beat them. Be better. Be the best. You don’t have to. I promise. You don’t.
And once you stop trying to reach those lofty heights and just do ‘what you can’, you will feel like the weight of the entire stratosphere has been lifted off your shoulders.
3. Take a moment.
Breathe. Stop. Smell the roses. Live the moment. It seems so simple doesn’t it? But when looking up from the dungeon of despair, with overwhelm clouds looming all around, it’s not really that simple.
But you have to try.
Bit by bit. Moment by moment. Hell, start with second by second. Pause, and take a second to breathe.
The effects of deep breathing on stress have been well documented and are explained well in this brief article (worth a read). Breathing calms you almost instantly, making you feel lighter and see things more clearly.
So when it all seems too much don’t just take the time, but make the time to breathe. You will feel the difference straight away, even if its only for a moment.
These three steps aren’t a solution to overwhelm, but they can certainly help reduce the associated anxiety. They are the baby steps you need to take until you are ready to deal with the major issues and causes of your overwhelm. They will bring you clarity and courage to take those next steps and finally say enough is enough, something must change.
Are you feeling overwhelmed at the moment?
Have any other little secrets on how you deal with overwhelm?