Feeling overwhelmed is a negative spiral.
When overwhelm hits, you start to feel out of control, like there’s too much happening, then worry or panic sets in, which triggers more out of control feelings… and so on. Before long, you’re wondering if you can cope at all.
What you need is a toolkit for breaking that cycle, ideally before it’s taken firm hold — though you can use it wherever you are, whatever is going on around you. So here it is.
These are simple straightforward steps that you can start straightaway.
Breathing is go-to advice from many coaches and wellness experts, I know. I’m not unique in saying this! But it’s ALWAYS my number one tip … because it’s SO helpful. Breathing deeply, taking long breaths that feel like they go down to your belly rather than just in your chest. This releases calming chemicals and send a message to your brain to slow down. It helps release physical tension and gets oxygen flowing round your system so you can think more clearly. Plant both feet firmly on the ground, put one hand on your stomach and breathe.
2. Step Back
Take a moment to get outside your story. Your brain likes to tell you that everything on your plate is essential, urgent and the world will stop turning if you don’t instantly clone yourself. No, brain. Hush. Step outside that story for a minute. Pretend you are your best friend (actually, I’d love it if you could become your own best friend but that’s another blog) and listen to what you’d say to them if you were giving advice. Chances are you’d tell them it will be OK. Because it will.
3. Focus on Your Surroundings
Getting outside, preferably somewhere with a spot of nature like a park or a wood is a great way to shift your perspective. It gets you moving, gives you something else to focus on and gives you a chance to focus on right now. Even if you’re inside, notice pictures, décor, furnishing. Notice what you can see, hear, feel, smell and touch rather than churn over all the thoughts in your head. Even five minutes will help.
4. Break Down the Overwhelm
What overwhelm likes to do is lift us into a whirlwind, so all the bits and pieces of responsibilities are spinning around our heads, making us dizzy and sick (emotionally if not physically). Combat this by taking each little piece and writing it down. Every single thing that’s contributing to your whirlwind. Name it, recognise it, own it, bring it out into the open instead of trying to ignore it. Doing this means that it takes its power away. So then not all things are as big or overwhelming as they seem!
5. Do, Delegate, Defer, Delete
This is a common email management technique, but it works just as well with our tasks, responsibilities and stresses so you can beat the overwhelm. For all the ‘overwhelm ingredients’ you’ve just identified, work out what you’re going to do about them. I’m not saying solve them completely, I’m saying identify the very next small thing you can do.
If it’s something that needs doing, is it you that needs to do it or can you pass it to someone else, or postpone it? Or is it something that’s just not actually important and you can get rid of it? Make a concrete list that puts you back in control.
6. Ask For Help
Most people think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, the opposite is true. It shows that you recognise something is important and you recognise that you don’t need to do it all. Most people are happy to be asked to help — it means they feel needed, valued and important. So if something’s grinding you down and you know someone who’s strong in that area — call on them!
Or if you know other people experiencing the same issue, is there a way you can work on it together? Is there someone who can help you with tech issues, someone that can help with admin. Remember one person’s skill or interest means they can probably do it so much faster than you too so if efficient and effective!
7. Focus on the Good
So often we focus on the difficult and bad experiences in life, we’re wired to notice the negatives. We may have had five colleagues praise our presentation at work, but we linger on that one bit of negative feedback. Yes, of course we need that to learn and improve but …..Widen your perspective and give the good parts of your life the attention they deserve. Doing this consistently actually re-wires your brain so over time it comes more natural to notice what’s going right, rather than honing in on what’s not. And that gives you the energy and confidence to act on the difficult stuff as well as keeping you on track to beat overwhelm.
So there you go. Seven steps to beat overwhelm. Easy straightforward steps that you can use when overwhelm starts to mess with your head and your life.
You can get all this with much more specific detail in my free guide 7 Steps from Overwhelmed Workload to In Control. Sign up and get the whole guide straight to your inbox so you can refer it every day easily.
If you got value from this free information, then I want you to know that I go into so much more detail in my 1:1 work. If you’re interested in working with me, you can find out more about that by booking a call with me HERE.
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Originally published at www.emmalangton.com on February 27, 2018.