How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

We’re all in this weird reality right now where life and for many, work is in limbo.  So many practitioners are feeling the pressure to do more, and more, me included.  I feel busier now than ever, trying to keep juggling all the balls.  This week I needed to remind myself of what I tell my clients – be kind to yourself first!

how to stop feeling overwhelmedLike me, you work in health and well-being.  In these challenging times, it’s so important to take care of ourselves and our families first.  If not, we’re in danger of burning out which isn’t healthy (or a good advert for our services!).

I read an email earlier which resonated with me, focus on having enough of everything for now.  This isn’t just about having enough money coming in but enough energy, sleep, laughter, connection and love too.

Our new normal is changing and there are lots of opportunities arising from it.  The way we work, and the way we help clients are changing but you don’t have to do everything now.  Yes, you may miss out on doing some things, but what is the price you’re willing to pay?

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how to stop feeling overwhelmed

 

It’s okay to feel concerned

There is a lot of fear circulating and we’re being bombarded by 24/7 news reports and expert opinions about how bad things are.  It’s no wonder we’re feeling worried and that’s okay – we’re human.

I realised chatting with a practitioner friend this week, I’d been suppressing my own fears and worries.  I had my practitioner hat firmly on and felt I had to be the person that had it all together.  On reflection, I really wasn’t being kind to myself.

I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I ‘should’ be doing.  It’s not a place where I’d be working effectively or at my best, so things had to change.

Whilst I can’t directly change what’s happening in the world right now, I can change how I respond to it.

When overwhelm strikes

Look at what you are saying to yourself.  Are you saying things like: I must, I should, I need to, I have to?  Are you feeling the pressure from all angles at the moment?  You probably have a massive job list and so much to do.  You may even find yourself procrastinating over the simplest of tasks.

These are some of the classic symptoms of being overwhelmed.  Being overwhelmed is a recipe for feeling stuck where everything around you feels more complicated than usual.

How to stop feeling overwhelmed

Time out

Give yourself some space by physically removing yourself from the situation.  It could be as simple as reading a magazine or getting some fresh air, anything that takes your mind off the task in hand.  For me, I find walking the dogs a therapeutic way to get a different perspective on what’s happening.

This will help you to start feeling calmer, reduce your stress levels and improve your clarity.  The unconscious part of your mind will continue to work in the background looking for solutions.  The combination of clarity and space will help you find ways to address the challenges you’re facing when you return.

Get clear

Write your thoughts down and all the things you want to do.  Don’t worry about censoring them, just let them flow.    This helps you get all of the ‘stuff’ out of your head and onto paper, freeing your mind for calmness.

Write lists

Take all the information you have just downloaded and collate it into useful lists, mind maps or action plans.  This will help you to organise your thoughts and have them safely recorded.

Use whatever system works best for you be it pen and paper, a document on your computer, or an online system such as Trello (which is a brilliant free software to help you get organised).

What’s your first step

how to stop feeling overwhelmedOnce you’re feeling calmer, ask yourself what is the first thing I should be doing?  This question helps you to focus on what your priority is, and the first step you need to take.  Don’t allow yourself to get side-tracked by the length of your list, you’re focusing on the first step. Identify the most important thing and do that.

You’re not ignoring the length of the list; you’re just reducing it down into manageable chunks.  Remember every marathon starts with a single step and by acting on one thing, you’ll soon have completed that and be working on the next.  Before you know it, you’ll be moving forwards easily and achieving loads.

Say ‘NO’

This can be easier said than done especially when you’re a naturally caring person.  By constantly saying yes to others, you’re saying no to your priority.  There will be times when you have to say yes, but there will be many when you don’t.  Learning to say no will free up your time and energy to focus on the things that are important to you.

There’s a story I tell clients based on the chapter “If Someone Throws You the Ball, You Don’t Have to Catch It” from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

My shortened version goes something like this:

Many of our inner struggles come from our tendency to jump on board someone else’s problem. Someone throws you a concern (the metaphoric ball) and you assume you must catch it and try and solve it for them. Later you feel stressed when you are behind and resentful that everyone is making demands on you. You forget about your willing participation in the situation.

Instead of automatically catching the ball, you can choose whether you want to or not. It is not your ball and you do not have to catch it, but there will be times when you want to catch it. The same idea applies to someone throwing a comment at you or criticising you, it is their ball, but you decide to catch it or let it go. So, next time someone throws something to you, take a moment and decide if you want to catch it, or simply say to yourself “not my ball” and let it go. (Carlson, 1998, p. 219)

Discovering your new normal

how to stop feeling overwhelmedThings do feel uncertain at the moment and it’ll be time before we discover what our new normal is.  This time will pass, until then, we can only do our best.

There are practitioners out there who are thriving, so it is possible.  You have to find your route through, and it may be that you give yourself permission to stop some things, and do others.

If you work from a place of calm and clarity, it will help you flow in the best way possible.  By taking things one at a time, you will stop the overwhelm and it won’t be long before you start to notice how much more productive you are too.

If you’re struggling and feeling overwhelmed, contact me to find out how I can help you.

Podcast 7 show notes:

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