‘Face the thing that seems overwhelming, and you will be surprised how your fear will melt away’-Dale Carnegie
Overwhelm is that feeling in a moment when you sense you can’t handle it all and your mind begins to race.
You might feel overwhelmed because:
- You are doing it all on your own.
- You are not exactly sure what is expected of you?
- You are not sure of your approach.
- You’ve set too high an expectation.
- You can’t control all of the factors.
- Time constraints.
- A heavy volume of work.
- To do list is daunting.
Sometimes the pressure and uncertainty of overwhelm combined with the fact that you can’t get it all done is going to negatively impact your well-being because it severely limits your energy, focus, and motivation.
In many cases, overwhelm happens over time.
In order to promote your best thinking, you need to make sure the capacity in your brain is clear so that you can focus on the things that are important to you so you can move the needle.
But, what happens to some of us is that our brains start to fill up with information (sometimes toxicity or garbage) and this overload can lead to a state of overwhelm.
For example, as your weeks and days progress, you start checking texts & alerts, reading emails, scrolling through social media, reading the news, flipping through TV channels, making excel spreadsheets, power points, attending meetings, and picking up the kids.
Your brain becomes full of nonessential things or stuff you can’t control and eventually those things begin stealing instead of refueling your energy.
‘Keep it simple and focus on what matters. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed,’-Confucius
HERE ARE 4 LIFE HACKS TO CRUSH OVERWHELM NOW!
- PERFORM A BRAIN DUMP ACTIVITY
Here is the activity:
- Take out a piece of paper and pen/pencil.
- You are going to ‘dump’ or write down everything that is in your head – every to do, everything that is bothering you because it is not getting done, everything that is on your mind.
- Make sure you list these thoughts, do not write in full sentences.
- It could be personal and/or work lists.
- When you have finished writing everything in your head (there is not time limit), pull out a highlighter.
- Highlight the 3 things you should do in order to advance the things that matter to you most. This is what you concentrate on first.
The rest of the list matters less and in most cases is other people’s stuff and is not mission-critical.
By sifting everything out, you not only have the 3 things you need to do, but you also have a clear head so you can get it done.
This visual analogy gives you control over the ‘stuff’ rather than feeling at the mercy of it.
I perform this ‘brain dump’ activity when I am sensing I am on the verge of overwhelm. The moment I write things down and get it out of my head, I feel a sense of calm and focus.
This weeks’ book recommendation is called the Mind-Body Stress Reset by Rebekkah Ladyne and Kathy L Kain. This resource offers strategies and tips on how to combat overwhelm and boost your overall mental well-being and happiness.
You can find this book on amazon.ca or use the following link:
2. START YOUR DAY ORGANIZED
This is more of a strategic and routine-based idea.
A lot of overwhelm comes because you are distracted in the moment. For example, writing an email, taking a call, and doing 3 tasks or projects all at once.
Instead, as a morning exercise, try blocking your time out during the day for the most important tasks, creative thinking, or projects.
By adding this small daily activity to your morning routine, you know what activities take precedent that day.
You are starting each day from a place of security and certainty, and this will help you deal with those moments of overwhelm, because…
You are more focused since you know what you need to prioritize for that day.
‘Don’t let the entire staircase overwhelm you. Just focus on the first step.’-Unknown
3. TRANSITION BETWEEN PROJECTS OR LARGE TASKS WELL IN YOUR DAY
In the past, I have been guilty of performing too many tasks in one day without giving myself a break.
What I found is that none of the tasks were done well and I was tired, lacked energy, and was unmotivated.
For example, I would answer 10 emails, create a presentation, and start a business proposal all in 1 day with no breaks.
I started to become overwhelmed because I could not maintain this pace for days or weeks at a time.
My brain was starting to jumble all of the tasks and projects together and my overwhelm kicked into high gear.
Soon, I would start to feel the pressure because I didn’t give myself much-needed reset time.
What I have learned is that my brain needed time in between each of these tasks, activities, or projects to bring focus and productivity.
Now, I take a strategic break between projects and major tasks to calm and reset my mind.
Here are some examples:
- A 10-minute meditation.
- Go for a 5-10 min walk.
- Take a 15 min power nap.
- Have a healthy snack. Sit and eat mindfully.
Here are some examples of what NOT to do because it will only contribute to your overwhelm:
- Read or watch the NEWS.
- Scroll through social media.
- Shop online.
‘People who focus on what they can’t control are usually depressed, frustrated, angry and overwhelmed.’-Tony Robbins
4. CREATE A SHORT WELLNESS CHECKLIST
Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, or not in control, I will take a step back and look at my habits over the past few weeks.
Self Care Checklist Items:
- Am I eating well or skipping meals or eating junk?
- How much caffeine am I consuming a day?
- How much social media or news have I been consuming over the past week?
- Have I been gossiping or displaying toxic behaviours?
- How much water have I been drinking a day?
- How are my sleep patterns? Am I sleeping too much? Not enough?
- How much online shopping have a done this week?
- Have I been taking my vitamins?
- Have I been missing my morning routine?
- Have I been active this week?
This self-reflection activity can sometimes reveal that you have broken a self-care habit or developed a new bad habit that may be triggered overwhelm.
In summary, the feeling of overwhelm can be minimized or even stopped if you use some of the tactics, tools, and ideas outlined:
- Performing a brain dump activity.
- Start your day organized.
- Transition between projects or large tasks.
- Create a wellness checklist.
The most important thing to remember is that overwhelm is a symptom of our habits, not our tasks.
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I sincerely wish you the best on your journey to enhance your life!
George Andreas, Founder