Even on a good day, life can be overwhelming. We have decisions to make at work, home, about our families, how we spend our time, what to eat, what not to eat and how to save the planet. It’s no wonder that sometimes it just gets too much and we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unable to see the wood for the trees (or the dishwasher for the client deadline).
Over the years, I’ve gone through countless cycles of doing too much, crashing under the pressure and taking days or weeks to recover. These incidents have chipped away at my confidence and stopped me from moving forward joyfully and intentionally. On the plus side, I’ve spent a lot of time finding ways to end the cycle and live with more peace and less overwhelm. Here are three top tips that really help when I find myself overwhelmed and stuck, I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.
1. Say it out loud
Something magical happens when we acknowledge and accept what we’re feeling. Our default is to push feelings of fear and overwhelm away in favour of making progress but all that does is make the feelings grow bigger and scarier behind closed doors. Stopping the madness and asking yourself ‘What is going on for me right now’? gives you the opportunity to face the feelings and just that acknowledgement can help to reduce the intensity of the emotions. Ask this question when you feel overwhelmed and take a few breaths to hear what comes up for you.
2. Forgive Yourself
Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Buddha really have something here. Great healing takes place through forgiveness and it certainly shouldn’t be reserved for huge traumatic events or nationwide difficulties; it can become part of your own dialogue for success.
Part of the cause of stress and overwhelm is how hard we are on ourselves because we’re not measuring up to our own expectations. When you’re in the midst of fear and panic, there’s only one way out of it (for real) and that is through kindness. Say to yourself: It’s OK, I forgive myself for not measuring up to my own expectations, they’re clearly unreasonable at the moment, and that’s OK’. Extending compassion to yourself is the quickest route to feeling better and moving forward. It may feel counter-intuitive but it’s not, being kind is not ‘letting yourself off the hook’, it’s actually feeding your soul with the nutrients it needs to do more and be more productive. It’s about replenishing the energy that’s been chewed up by overwhelm.
3. Choose to see things differently
Once you’ve recognised that you’re in a funk and forgiven yourself for not being perfect (I know right, it seems crazy that we need to do this but perfectionism can make us go crazy), you can make a choice. You don’t even need to know exactly how you want things to be different, you just need to choose for things to be different. Saying to yourself ‘I choose to see things differently, I choose to see opportunity’, you are encouraging your brain to focus on a more positive, productive way of moving forward.
Using these techniques when faced with feelings of overwhelm can really help to shift thoughts from a place of panic to a calmer more balanced state, and when we’re not operating with fear as our driver, we’re able to see things differently and act in a much more constructive way.
Holly is a Career and Mindset Coach, helping people to change their mindsets and start making decisions that feel right. To find out more and have a chat, please get in touch
Image courtesy of Aziz Acharki