thoughts & ponderings
I don’t know about you but I have heard from quite a few people recently that they are feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelm doesn’t have to be around big issues, it can be small stuff and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with a particular issue. Sometimes it’s a combination of things that we are aware of or maybe unaware of.
For example, I was on a business call today and described myself as being in email overwhelm. Not a big deal to some but it is really at a point where it impacts on my routine and productivity. I look at my inbox and have no idea where to start. So I have set up boundaries around that and will set aside 15 minutes each morning and evening to clear it back to zero every day. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to rein in.
So what can we do?
Change your mindset - Overwhelm is often based on thoughts of uncontrollability or unpredictability. It’s the unrealistic or unreasonable thoughts that catalyse our stress reaction. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to our self-talk and learn to create helpful thoughts. An example is looking at your to-do list and seeing there is quite a bit of stuff there to do. Instead of thinking “I will never get through this”, which is a thought that supports and leads to distress, think “I might not get through it in one day but I can start with this first thing.” Breaking things down into doable chunks is much less overwhelming. Don’t forget thought is energy! When we come from a positive place, we are more able to take action and solve problems.
Practice mindfulness - I think multi-tasking can be overrated and to be honest we can place ourselves directly in the path of overwhelm by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Changing our mindset from thinking that everything must or should be done right now is a great start. When you’re consumed with what may or may not happen in the next hour minutes, weeks or even months, you can’t appreciate the here and now. Being mindful, which I know is an over-used term these days, is actually very helpful. Perhaps you could set schedule time to plan for the future, much like I have done for my emails, so you can breathe in the present moment.
Breathe - yes I know we breathe all the time without even thinking about it. Isn’t the body amazing! The problem is we do not breathe deeply enough and with all the sitting at desks and computers that many people do, the lungs are all cramped up in there. Take time during the day to stretch your body, open your chest by moving your arms about and consciously take some nice deep breaths right down into your belly. It’s really good for helping to clear the mind and bring clarity.
Do what you love – each day, even if it is only for ten minutes, try to make time to do something that you love. This can minimise the effects of overwhelm. Engage in an activity that you enjoy, such as listening to music, cooking, reading a book or taking a walk. It’s always helpful to tap into our creative energy and even better if we can connect with nature as well.
Finally, consider how you can solve the stressors that triggered your overwhelm in the first place.
© White Sage Wellbeing & contributors. 2017