Dealing with Overwhelm


I had someone ask how to deal with overwhelm. As a sensitive soul I understand overwhelm personally.

First, take 5-10 deep breaths. This relaxes you, so you aren’t thinking as stressfully. It’s hard to make good decisions in flight/fight/freeze mode. Maybe look at something pretty.

Next, get everything you are thinking about/worried about on paper or into a to do system so you know what you need to do. Not having things written down, gives you a constant nagging feeling like you are forgetting something. And you probably are.

Take some more deep breaths because you are probably panicky again. Tell yourself you have all the time in the world for what is important.

Chose 3 things on your list that are calling to you the loudest. If you can’t narrow it down, put the top list on scraps of paper. Turn them upside down and mix them out. Pick one out. Or number then and use to pick a number. Sometimes you’ll feel an, “Oh, I should have chosen this one instead.” That’s your intuition. So do the one the intuition said.

Once you get started on something, anything, it is easier to keep it going. It’s the starting that’s the hard part.

Put on a timer (I like tomato-timer) so you keep working until a break – don’t open Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, call a friend or do something else until your break. Otherwise you may waste a whole day procrastinating.

If you are still having trouble getting started, ask yourself what you are afraid of. It’s easier to counter, if you know what is wrong. Overwhelm is a feeling brought on by the thoughts you are thinking.  “I have so much to do, I’ll never get it done, it’s not fair, I am always working,” are usually unhelpful and put you in an overwhelmed state. But saying, “I have time, I am enjoying this moment, look how interesting this project is,” puts you in a curious, better balanced state.

Overwhelm can be sneaky too. You start to feel overwhelmed and next thing you know you are watching TV, surfing the net or eating ice cream. You are oblivious to the overwhelm for a little bit. But, when you are done you are even further behind. So keep an eye out to what you do to pretend you aren’t overwhelmed.

Finally, watch your expectations. Many times people get overwhelmed because they are trying to be perfect at all things and driving themselves batty. You are lovable whether your to do list is done or not.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?



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