One of the things I teach my clients is how to manage overwhelm. And I teach this, because it’s made a HUGE difference in the life I’m creating.
Knowing when overwhelm is starting to creep into my life, and how to handle it when it does, allows me to create ease rather than letting overwhelm run me into the ground. So when I find myself being reactive rather than purposeful, I know it’s time to check in and get back on track.
Today is one of those days.
My oldest is home sick for the second time this week. My youngest was home sick two days last week. Monday and Tuesday are half-days at school and then the kiddos are off the rest of the week for Thanksgiving Break. And I’m finding myself staring down the last few weeks of 2019 while my heart races and the list of to-dos grows exponentially by the minute.
When feelings of overwhelm and frustration rise up like this, here’s what I do (and you can, too) to get off the rollercoaster of overwhelm and onto the track of ease again.
1. Stop reacting and start listening. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. What is your intuition saying? What is your body telling you? What are you feeling (physically and emotionally) in this moment?
2. Move toward feeling good. Now that you know what you’re feeling in the moment, take one action that gets you closer to feeling GOOD. Maybe that’s taking a walk, listening to upbeat music, eating food that nourishes your body, or just sitting in quiet for a few minutes. Whatever seems like a step toward feeling better, take time to do it.
3. Practice gratitude. Once you’re feeling more positive, spend some time listing (in your head, on paper, to your officemate…whatever works for you) all the things that come to mind that you’re thankful for or appreciate. Keep making the list longer as new things come to mind.
4. Brain dump. Write out all the things that you need and/or want to do. When we have a million things we have to do and remember, our brains go into over-drive and every time a task comes to mind, it triggers feelings of overwhelm and fear. Instead of feeling in control, we find ourselves going through ALL THE THINGS in our head over and over again. (You know the routine: Did I forget? Will I forget? When was that concert again? What was on my list for the store…milk, bread, eggs, what else…???) Compile all your lists (if you’re anything like me you have several) and write that shit down so that your brain can relax and you can start to prioritize.
5. Take action. When all we’re doing is dwelling in the overwhelm, we feel out of control. Take that list of ALL THE THINGS and rank each item by how important and/or urgent it is. (HINT: the dishes and laundry are NOT the most important unless you’re all out of clean items.) Then choose ONE thing you can do right now to check off the list. It may not be the most important, but make sure it’s something closer to the top of your list. (This could even be something that will partially complete one of those high priority tasks, but won’t let you check it off entirely.) SOME progress will make you feel better than no progress at all.
I know what you’re thinking: I’m overwhelmed and you want me to do ALL of that???
But this process doesn’t have to take much time, so please don’t dismiss this as being just another set of things to add to the to-do list.
Giving yourself just 5 to 10 minutes to listen to your intuition and your body, feel your feelings, practice gratitude, get out of your head and start taking action will make a HUGE difference. It takes purposeful attention and action, but you CAN drop the overwhelm and find your happy space again–quickly–with a little practice and presence.
Breathe. You’ve got this, friend!