8 Ways to Reduce Overwhelm
This week on my radio show "Getting Through the Week" on WGLRO.com, we talked about eight ways to reduce overwhelm.
With kids graduating from school, parents feeling stressed with the shifted tides of 2020, and a world being tossed sideways, we can all be feeling a little overwhelmed, stressed, and even anxious about the future.
During this morning's show we talked about WHY we feel overwhelmed, along with possible reasons for feeling this way, and lastly ways to manage these stressors in our daily lives.
Working with clients from all over the world for the last 15 plus years, when it comes to feeling overwhelmed. I've seen a common thread of three things. These three things are disorganization, procrastination, and over commitment. You can definitely go back and listen to this episode here for details on these three, but for the sake of this posting I'm going to share 8 ways to reduce overwhelm.
Here we go.
1. Do a Reset
Let's say you're in the middle of a huge project such as a final paper or presentation, and all your concentration is placed on getting it complete, you could easily neglect and stop using your daily "to-do" list/tasks. Although it's understandable in the short run how sticking to a schedule could get thrown off, but in the long run it will turn your life into chaos. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a day or two to reorganize your life in order to bring back balance and peace. The way you manage your schedule may differ than mine, but just in case you're needing some assistance, here's a few suggestions.
· Go through your to-do list and get it up to date. If you don't have one, start one immediately.
· Check your calendar to make sure it reflects all of your upcoming appointments, meetings, and other events.
· Clean and organize your physical workspace.
· Find items that you aren’t using and donate, recycle, or throw them away.
Often, these simple actions will be enough to make you feel organized and in control once more.
2. Reestablish Your Routine
It’s easy to neglect your routines because of being so busy and not "having enough time", but instead of viewing routines as a waste of time, or as something to cast aside until you have time later, you should view them as an essential building block for working effectively. After all, routines are what ground you and give your life structure, which is one of our four basic human needs in life.
If your routine has fallen apart, then it's best to add habits back in slowly to eliminate any additional stress. Start with some basic DAILY habits.
· Make your bed
· Write out your intentions for the day
Once you’ve stuck with this simple routine for a week, you can add in more complex activities. The key is getting back on track with the simple daily functions, then start adding more things in while being mindful of keeping a balanced life.
3. Define Your Priorities and Say No to Everything Else
Every time you have an opportunity, it’s tempting to say yes. If you say no, you’re just missing out, right?
This mindset is destructive in the long run because it fractures your time and attention amongst dozens of low-value activities. To overcome the temptation to say yes to every opportunity, you need to define your priorities.
What really matters to you? What activities give you energy, bring you joy, or are simply necessary for your existence? Really think about this, and make a list. Enthusiastically say yes to any opportunity that fits into your priorities, but say no to everything else.
Not only will this prevent you from getting overwhelmed, but it will also allow you to focus more energy on the activities that truly matter. This means you’ll actually accomplish more in the long run.
4. Be Selfish (In a good way)
I have several friends and family members who always want to help others. Whenever someone needs something, they’ll help no matter what.
While this selflessness is noble, it’s possible to take it too far. If you spend all of your time living for others, then you risk neglecting yourself. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe it’s because you need to take some time for yourself.
I know this can be hard to do, that it can feel like you’re being selfish. But taking some time for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s self-care. And when you take some time to care for yourself, you’ll ultimately be more effective at helping others. You must put your oxygen mask on first, so your healthy enough to help others.
5. Ignore the Workaholic Cult
There’s nothing wrong with working hard; it’s essential for achieving your goals. But there’s a fine line between hard work and workaholism.
These days more than ever, there can be immense pressure to work all the time. Between checking emails on your phone, having your laptop readily available at home, and having access to texting your co-workers and boss in the evenings, it's far to easy to get caught up in the "work all the time" mode.
This pressure to always perform varies, ranging from company culture to peers to your boss to even the media. Wherever the pressure is coming from, you need to not get caught up in it and resist it. Working all the time is neither a healthy way to live nor an effective way to work.
The constant pressure to work can affect your sleep, your relationships, and your health. And often, the “work” you’re doing produces little of value. Staying up late to finish a big presentation is one thing, but staying up late just to monitor work emails that can almost certainly wait until morning is quite another.
If you’re feeling pressure to work all the time, ask yourself where it’s coming from. If you have a terrible boss putting the pressure on you, then you may need to find a different job with healthier work culture.
More commonly, however, you’re putting the pressure on yourself. In this case, you need to set some boundaries:
· Turn off the notifications on your email after a certain hour.
· Leave your work computer at work or completely turn it off at home.
· Politely make it clear to coworkers and clients that they can only reach you during regular business hours.
· Find a hobby or join a club so that you have something else to do during the evenings.
6. Swallow Your Pride
If you’re a high-achieving, ambitious person, then you may be proud of your ability to juggle many commitments at once. And if you start to feel overwhelmed, you may try to “push through” because admitting that you’ve taken on too much feels like failure.
But tying your personal worth to how much you can do at once is toxic. If you only view yourself as the sum of what you can do, you’re going to feel terrible. Worse, this mindset will prevent you from scaling things back when you get overwhelmed, which can destroy you (and your relationships) with time.
So if you think that admitting you’re overwhelmed is a form of failure, swallow your pride. You are more than the sum of your achievements or your title. The world will not fall apart if you cut back when you've taken on too much.
7. Practice Calming Techniques
Whether you’re overwhelmed or just a bit stressed, there are many simple things you can do to feel calmer right now. Here are a few that I find helpful:
· Deep breathing
· Taking a walk
· Aerobic exercise
· Taking a hot shower or bath
· Listening to a song I enjoy
And these are just a few of many possibilities. The goal is to find something that brings you calm.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
So far, I’ve focused on things that you can do by yourself to stop feeling overwhelmed. But in many cases, it’s worth seeking outside help.
This could be as simple as meeting with (or calling) a friend or family member to vent. Talking about it out loud can help you realize both why you’re overwhelmed and how you can fix it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed because of work, talk to your boss. A good boss will listen to you and work to help you create a more balanced schedule. If your boss isn’t willing to help, it may be time to find a different job.
In the case of college, you can talk to your advisor, department chair, or one of the many other people available to help you succeed. These people are experts at making college work for you, so don’t overlook them.
Finally, don’t rule out talking to a counselor, mindset coach, or medical professional. These people are expert listeners, and they can also help you figure out if you’re overwhelmed because of an illness (and help you get the treatment you need to feel better).
Being Overwhelmed Is Not Your Fate – Being In Control of Your Life Is