6 Surprisingly Simple Tips To Beat Overwhelm
About 6 minutes to read
Feeling overwhelmed is a terrible thing. That sense of drowning and not being able to cope with events or emotions can be completely debilitating. There are two main ways in which we experience overwhelm and that is circumstantial and emotional.
Often times the circumstances and events in our lives overwhelm us, when everything seems to come at us at once. You know when your boss wants you to work long hours for an extended period, you have nobody to care for the kids because your spouse is away on business, your parents still expect you to visit two or three times a week – your life seems like a literal shit storm of too much.
When we are emotionally overwhelmed, we are experiencing a form of trauma that we feel incapable of dealing with. Grieving the death of a loved one, experiencing the pain of a love affair ending, fear for a child’s life with a serious illness. Our emotions build up within the body, because they have nowhere else to go and we feel as if we could implode.
Sometimes we are unaware that we are overwhelmed simply because we have adapted to living with a high level of stress and anxiety. We live with unrealistic expectations from ourselves and others and don’t recognise that we are overwhelmed.
Classical signs that you’re feeling overwhelmed are:
- Loss of focus – you find it really hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand and are easily distracted.
- Restlessness – it feels as if you have fire ants in your pants. It may manifest in a physical manner where you have to move constantly or you may desire to simply run away from everything.
- Health problems – where you feel constricted in the chest area, breathlessness, unable to sleep or an unnatural pervasive tiredness.
- Numbness – a sense of being numb, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You just don’t give a fuck and want to the world to leave you alone.
There are many more symptoms of being overwhelmed, but these are the most common.
It’s great to recognise a problem, but we need to take action to solve that problem if we want to live joyful, peaceful, happy lives.
6 Surprisingly Simple Tips to Beat Overwhelm
Stop! – Get off the Hamsters Wheel
Hamsters are crazy assed little rodents. They seem to love going around and around, falling, flopping, spinning upside down. They get tossed and turned, fall off and get right back on again.
Don’t believe me? Watch this video!
Here’s the thing, we too can be like those crazy assed hamsters. We just don’t stop. We get caught up in the busyness of life, all the things we must do, should do, the high expectations…
I must, I can do this by myself, I don’t need help, what you others think if I quit, nobody cares or wants to help…
The more we spin around in the insanity that is our circumstance or emotion the feelings of overwhelm, hopelessness, helplessness, disempowerment, and victimhood escalate.
The only thing to do is STOP and get off the wheel. This is not a decision anyone else make for you, you have to do it yourself, you gotta stop.
Once you do, you need to
Separate Yourself, Become the Observer
When we are caught up in overwhelm we are fully identified with our present reality. We are it, and it is us. Here’s some good news, this is not true. You are not the events or emotions you are experiencing, this is not the core of your being, or your soul’s reality, therefore separate yourself and take a few steps back, become an observer.
It is not easy to do because we identify to strongly with the circumstantial, transient things in our lives that we take on their identity but if you want to get yourself back download this my brilliant Go Fish exercise to help you return to yourself.
Take the time to reflect and look at your thoughts, actions, and where your emotions are sitting in your body. Don’t judge them or hate them, just observe them.
Break It Down
One of the main reasons for overwhelm is the weight of the situation is greater than our current capacity to carry it. Mount Everest has appeared before us and we literally cannot fathom a way up, over, under, through or around that monster.
Well everything in life is accomplished one-step at a time. Neil Armstrong may have made a giant leap for mankind but that was after trillions of tiny steps taken by countless people.
Look at your Everest and break it down, step by step, stone by stone. You only have 24 hours in a day, look at your priorities and ask yourself what is the most important thing you need to do now in order to move forward.
Don’t be fooled by that thing that is screaming for your attention or the urgent voicemail or email. What is urgent for someone else is not necessarily urgent for you. The most important thing you may need to do is take a rest to recharge your batteries and boost your energy.
If you have a huge to do list, get things out of your head and onto paper. Write it down and set priorities for yourself.
Realign and Prioritise
We often become involved in activities for the wrong reasons; obligation, and the expectations of others being a major driver. Some activities or burdens are simply not ours to manage or carry and we have to let them go.
One of the consequences of being in overwhelm is that we disconnect from ourselves and into the situations that are consuming our attention. As we place ourselves, firmly back in the driver’s seat it is imperative that we realign to our values and desires and set priorities based on those. When we are connected to our souls purpose outside expectations and priorities become secondary.
Now don’t get me wrong, don’t assume that I am suggesting that you become narcissistic in your life, careless of those around you, this is not what I am suggesting. When we are living a soul connected life and caring for ourselves we have more than enough capacity to care for others. When we do not fill ourselves up we are literally like cars running on fumes, eventually we will break down, often with serious consequences.
Practice Compassion and Control the Inner Critic
The emotional and mentally traveling companions of overwhelm are legion. When overwhelm is visiting us anger, bitterness, regret, judgment, criticism, anxiety, worry etc. come along for the ride. It’s bad enough we have one unwanted guest invading our house, we don’t need all her skanky assed bitch friends to pitch up.
There is no more powerful extermination method than practicing compassion. When we practice compassion, we acknowledge that there is more to our lives than meets the eye. We are accepting our imperfections along with our hidden beauty. We acknowledge our pain but don’t allow it to overwhelm us.
Compassion is the gentle hand that catches the egg as it tumbles from the box.
Compassion understands that fragility and strength are traveling companions. Compassion desires wholeness and healing over perfection. Compassion is the willingness to meet ourselves where we’re at, rather than where we think we should be. And as we embrace the reality of what is rather than rejecting it, our compassion brings us closer to understanding who we really are.
Compassion also silences our inner critic because it sees it for who it is, knowing full well it has no power over us.
The most powerful tool I know to remain connected to oneself and not become overwhelmed is the practice of mindfulness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has popularised the idea of mindfulness in modern society. Stemming from Buddhist tradition, it is the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in this present moment. In a society where mindlessness seems prevalent – losing my mind, mindless speech, television, violence, etc. – is it not wonderful to take responsibility for your mind in a non-judgemental, accepting manner?
Mindfulness involves not only meditation but all activities in our lives. We can apply it to walking, talking, eating, socialising, loving. Being present in this moment, slowing down, being aware – this is the most powerful tool to losing ourselves in the daily grind of life and avoiding overwhelm.
I know that when we are in a state of overwhelm we often can’t see the wood for the trees. Gaining a new perspective and being able to step back seems impossible. I’d like to offer you two additional resources.
Stop struggling alone! I invite you to schedule a call with me. I’d love to help empower you beat overwhelm.
Here’s to you beating overwhelm!