-completely overcome or overpowered by thought or feeling– https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overwhelmed.
As I started today’s blog, I was 7 hours late posting it. I have writing homework due tonight at midnight, and I have to re-do a previous assignment for grading, and, I was concerned about an urgent bathroom leak- made even more stressful because the kitchen below has new cabinets coming in 7 days. It hit me that I had passed busy, moved on to gettin’ stressed but trying to hang on, then fully moved into feeling overwhelmed. If you have ever felt overwhelmed (and I’m sure you have) you know that you can’t live in overwhelm for long. Something has to be done. You have to do something about it. You can’t live feeling overwhelmed. Action must be taken or you’ll spin out of control.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or heard about doing a “brain dump”. Check it out for yourselves. Almost every blog or website on feeling overwhelmed, will give you the same tips. At least a few of the same, depending on their perspective. Brain dump requires you to write down your concerns for the purpose of making room in your brain for focus, and for space. The reason we start to feel overwhelmed is because our brains become too full of tasks and/or worries that are currently spinning around in our brains.
Recognize the signs of being overwhelmed
This is a great resource; Good Therapy https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/emotional-overwhelm. I love this description because it’s so simple, yet so accurate. “Emotional overwhelm occurs when the intensity of your feelings outmatches your ability to manage them.” You may feel any of the following:
- LACK OF FOCUS
- FEELING WITHDRAWN
Most of us feel these emotions from time to time, however, when you lose your shit because you can’t find your keys, or panic because something you worked on for hours, or days, gets lost, something else is going on. This may be a sign that you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve been running on empty for a bit too long. Your body knows…knows more than we care to admit. It’s time to listen. When you have difficulty focusing on the task at hand, whether it be an important project at work, or listening to your child tell a story, or getting your To-Do-List completed, something needs to change. If you break into tears because of something relatively minor, or something that you would previously be able to handle, it’s time to pay attention. But don’t freak out…Your whole life is not falling apart, you’re just having a hard time keeping your thoughts and emotions in check.
But why? Well, this was cool to find out; according to Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S, Associate Editor who wrote for Psychcentral.com, https://psychcentral.com/feeling%20overwhelmed/she tells us about Brigid Schulte, a journalist for the Washington Post who tried multiple ways to reduce her feeling of being overwhelmed. A few tips really stood out for her. One of them is suggested by multiple experts in the field of anxiety and depression, and that is doing a “brain dump”. Some suggestions are to take 5 minutes and just write like crazy, all the things that are stressing you out, worrying you, creating your anxiety. Some say to highlight the three most important/urgent items on that list, and focus only on those three items that day.
The piece of science that speaks to me is this; “the working memory can only keep about seven (7) things at one time.” So, given that bit of info, if your To-Do list is longer than 7 items or tasks, your brain becomes stuck in this endless loop of worry, trying to make sure you don’t forget these tasks, leaving no room for figuring out what we have to do to accomplish said tasks. We have to focus on what is most important.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE~
I am becoming more and more adept at recognizing when I’m feeling overwhelmed. When I want to lash out, when I feel impatient, and/or want to sit down and cry, wishing that it (whatever it is) wasn’t happening, that’s the beginning of feeling overwhelmed. But crying won’t propel you forward. It helps emotionally, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t progress the project. Give yourself 5-15 minutes, take a break. Ideally you spend that time outside, no matter the weather. Go for a walk. Or do something that gives you peace of mind. Understand that feeling overwhelmed is not really about the project or the length of your To-Do list. It’s about fear. Fear of not knowing what or how to do the task. It’s about fear of judgment about that report, or whether or not you’ll get that task done right, or on time.
Make a list!
I have always been a list person. I make a list pretty much every day of my life. Usually I write in my planner, not in my phone. I need to see the list quickly, easily and be able to scratch off or add to it. Do what works for you, however it’s been suggested that paper, whether a sticky note or a notebook, is more effective because it’s tactile and it keeps you off your phone! This is why the brain dump is so important. It literally creates space in your brain for the important things. And you can re-visit the list frequently.
Tackle the list
- If you need to cry…cry.
- Then highlight your three most important items.
- Go for a 10-15 minute walk or meditate
- Tackle one or two quick and easy list items. This is to give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Tell your people you will be away from your phone for a couple hours.
- Hit the top three items that you prioritized.
Calming tips when you’re overwhelmed
Stay in the moment. You did your brain dump to create mental space. Don’t worry too far ahead. If you wrote a task on a certain day or time period, LET IT GO until it’s time to deal with it.
De-clutter, even just a little bit, maybe just your immediate space. It really helps. https://www.carolpaino.ca/
Slow the music down. Literally, put on slower, calmer, and quieter music. Don’t believe me? Research proves it. Slow, calm music, eases your stress.
Can you re-assess your schedule? If you feel overwhelmed often, maybe it’s your schedule, your lifestyle. The stress of constantly being behind, constantly rushing around, losing your keys, etc. is not good for your health. At least assess your schedule/lifestyle to see if changes could be made.
Delegate wherever and whenever possible. Women especially feel the need to prove that we can do it, we can handle it. There is only so much time in a day. If you’re constantly falling short of your expectations (or someone else’s) it’s time to assess. Are you working as hard as you think you are? Are you wasting time on distractions? Are the expectations unrealistic?
Remember, when we feel overwhelmed, it’s not necessarily the task. It’s that we feel unprepared, or lack time or knowledge to realistically accomplish the task, or we fear being judged.
Breathe. Be nice to yourself.
The world will not end if you don’t complete all your tasks in one day.
Three tasks maximum per day.
Take appropriate healthy breaks.
If you can’t get the feeling of being overwhelmed under control, there are multiple Life Coaching resources available to you in London, Ontario. If you think you could benefit from life coaching, do your research, read reviews, ask about her qualifications and her approach. I’ve listed some below to get you started.
Life Coaching Resources
Jenna Goodhand- https://www.jennagoodhand.com/
Linda Grace Byers- https://lindagracebyers.com/
Susan Morel- https://thecoachingroom.com/
Executive Coaching and Life Coaching with Deb Crowe- https://debcrowe.com/
Thanks for reading. Thanks for your patience while I deal with overwhelm…Check back next Sunday for another blog post.
Carol Paino~ Parts Of Ourselves