Have you ever experienced feeling overwhelmed? I decided to address this issue because it is a very usual complaint among my clients and it’s no surprise given the try-to-do-everything-and-be-everywhere life we lead. The word overwhelmed literally means being buried or drowned beneath a huge mass of something. The three main causes for being overwhelmed are: information, things to do and emotional issues. Sometimes, all of these aspects contribute to the feeling. What’s the result? You are probably feeling tired, over-emotional, irrational, ‘raw’ and stretched to breaking point.
If that’s the case, you’ll be pleased to know that there are 4 simple things you can do which will make a positive difference in how you cope and therefore feel. You have already taken the first and most important step and that is recognising that you are feeling overwhelmed. Here are 4 practical and effective ways to help you overcome being overwhelmed.
1. Stop the ‘chicken circles’
Have you ever seen chickens running around in circles? One’s thoughts can sometimes go round and round without getting anywhere: that’s what I call ‘chicken circles’. These might make you feel that everything is even worse than it is! To stop the ‘chicken circles’ you need to do a ‘brain dump’. Take a piece of paper, preferably a brightly coloured one, and write down ALL the things and worries that are crowding your head. Keep the piece of paper by you and add to it as another item comes into your head. When you have finished, you can look over it and select the few that will make the biggest positive impact.
2. Write your priorities down
This can be a direct follow-up from 1 or can be an independent step. When you have selected your priorities for the day, write them down somewhere, make a to-do list. As you get through your list, tick them off. This simple procedure will generate great satisfaction, as it will allow you and others to quantify what you have achieved.
3. Offload your ‘boat’
Imagine that you are a boat, afloat in the sea. The more things you put on the boat, the heavier it will become and the more likely it will be to either capsize or sink. Similarly, there really is only so much you can take on before you start feeling overwhelmed. A very quick way to reduce your feelings of being overwhelmed is to ask yourself, ‘Does _________________ go inside or outside my boat?’ This is a good way to stop lots of extra stuff crawling into your mind and life. If you identify anything that should not be on the boat, just toss it out – better still, never even let it come in!
4. Enjoy a moment of contentment
Cultivate several relatively ‘little’ things you can do which you know you enjoy: make a cup of your favourite tea; listen to a piece of music connected to a happy memory; phone a friend for a quick update; take some time to look at nature, whether it’s a tree or a flower in a park or a shell you collected at the beach. Relish that moment of quiet contemplation and relaxation, just for you! It is quite amazing how you can return feeling as though you can manage after all.
Vanda North is a joy enhancer. Building resilience is her most recent way of increasing people’s enJOYment of life. For further advice you can contact her at Vanda@MindChi.com.