4 Things You Can Do When You Feel Overwhelmed
When you feel overwhelmed it can be difficult to work out the next step. In the grips of overwhelm, it can seem like you have too many different areas of your life fighting for your attention. Everything you need to do feels urgent and you feel swamped and unsure about what to do for the best.
Over the years I have learnt that the best thing I can do when I feel overwhelmed is to stop and take a step back. To be honest this has often felt counter-intuitive. I have often found myself questioning, Shouldn’t I do a little more and get ahead or organised to feel less overwhelmed? I’ve learnt the hard way that there is always another task awaiting me. This means that I could stay busy and overwhelmed forever, in a constant cycle of busyness. Doing one or more of these four things are much more helpful to me when I feel overwhelmed.
When I feel overwhelmed everything that is overwhelming me feels immediate urgent and vitally important. It is as if my fight or flight response has kicked in. Sometimes that is true of the situation but at other times my overwhelm is making everything feel more urgent and important than they really are.
Taking slow deep and conscious breaths has become a really helpful tool that I use when I feel overwhelmed. It helps me calm and ground myself so that I can take a fresh look at my situation from a calmer headspace. Deep breaths sound so simple and it really is. This does not mean however that taking slow deep breaths has no real impact. Taking a few deep breaths allows me to pause and ground before tackling an overwhelming situation.
Stop (just for a minute)
A lot of my coaching clients tell me that they tackle feeling overwhelmed by trying to get organised, multi-task and prepared to how they feel. As I said earlier, I have felt the exact same way. In the past, I tried my best to get organised and get ahead in order to create a little breathing space for myself in the future. This never worked and I usually ended up more overwhelmed but also exhausted on top of everything.
Taking a minute to stop, take a break or take a step back actually helps me get more done. This break is my moment to breathe and review what is going on. Taking that pause helps me work out my next step rather than rushing to create space in an already overwhelmed and stressful situation.
Show Yourself Compassion
Everyone feels overwhelmed at some point. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that we are not strong or resilient when we feeling overwhelmed. We think how we feel is about us and our faults. We make our overwhelm a personal problem. How you feel is a natural reaction to your situation. Don’t give yourself a hard time by telling yourself to pull yourself together or dismiss your feelings as irrational or silly. Everyone feels overwhelmed from times so you are not weak or lacking for feeling overwhelmed.
A Little Reminder
When I read Untamed by Glennon Doyle I found a new affirmation for my overwhelmed days. In untamed, Glennon says “we can do hard things”. this resonated with my stressed and overwhelmed self so much. When I feel overwhelmed it feels like I am not capable of the challenges ahead of me. I feel like I am failing or headed towards failure. Reminding myself that I can do hard things is a little reminder that just because something feels overwhelming it doesn’t mean that I cannot overcome it.
Stressful and overwhelming days feel awful. They make me want to run for the hills to hide. Yet, I have survived every hard thing I have ever faced. I can deal with difficult situations. We all learn and grow as we go through each situation we face. Feeling overwhelmed is a natural reaction to having a lot to deal with not proof that I cannot do something hard.
When you Feel Overwhelmed
When we feel overwhelmed it can be hard to know what to do. Many of us like to try to work longer and harder to try and get to the other side of the problem. Others like to run and hide and avoid whatever feels overwhelming till it goes away. These are understandable responses Yet, Ive learned that has been the most helpful aren’t the ones that immediately come to my mind.
Slowing down, pausing to review and regroup is something that takes conscious effort. Showing myself compassion isn’t as easy as pushing and berating myself forward. Learning a kinder and slower approach has been so helpful. It helps me deal with feeling overwhelmed and create a little space for myself in that moment. Reminding myself that how I feel is a normal reaction to my situation empowers me. Knowing that I can deal with what is coming helps me see that I have options.
Feeling overwhelmed is a part of life we can’t avoid but we can find ways to help ourselves. Little things to remember that make those overwhelming days a little more manageable.
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Originally published at https://www.lynnemcleanbrown.com on December 18, 2020.