Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, you are not alone. Today, we face burdens and stressors from every angle. Demands from work and home press upon our limited time. Concerns about world and economic conditions impose upon our mental and emotional bandwidth. Add the litany of additional fear-based concerns that stream into our consciousness and we begin to feel the sensations of being overwhelmed and burnt out. Our productivity may slow to a crawl and our ability to cope with adversity may be heavily compromised.
Personally, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I will often sit and spin in my head. Thoughts racing in and out, relating to what needs to be accomplished and my inability to handle it. Other times, I will escape to seek more “mindless” activities such as check a news feed or engage in a lower priority task that requires minimal mental horsepower. There are better strategies than to escape.
One key in dealing with feelings of overwhelm is to understand what contributes to it. There are 4 key components to feelings of overwhelm:
- There is too much to accomplish in a limited set amount of time.
- Feelings of a lack of control.
- A busy mind ruminating on too many things.
- Feeling a lack of “bandwidth” or competence.
So, when we are feeling overwhelmed, what can we do? There are a few short-term and long-term strategies we can implement.
Short-term strategies to manage feelings of overwhelm:
- Triage the demand to determine the most vital and do them first. Delay the less important items, delegate to other competent people activities you can hand off and drop what is unimportant or non-strategic that may infringe on more important activity. (DO – DELAY – DELEGATE – DROP).
- Write your thoughts, ideas and concerns down. What this does, is to get it out of your head, into a place you can retrieve it later, thus clearing your mind. Writing it down is best and most cathartic.
- Take a break and re-charge your brain. Our brains operate much like a battery and when fully charged, operates optimally. Over time, especially when highly focused, the brain runs out of energy. A short “brain-break” will recharge your brain so it operates more efficiently. Meditation, Chi Gong or even going for a walk can add “juice” to your brain.
- Get help or support on projects where you may feel a lack of ability. Many hands make for lighter work and add more facets of creativity and problem solving.
Long-term strategies to manage feelings of overwhelm:
- Make sure you are acting in alignment with your Mission, Vision and Core Values you have created. When working within the realm of your Mission, Vision and Values, you operate more purposefully, with less effort, with greater potential for momentum.
- Focus and simplify. When we feel “a mile wide and an inch deep” and spread thin, we easily become overwhelmed. Like a skillful surgeon, cut the useless “fat” out of your life and business which doesn’t contribute to your Mission, Vision and Values.
- A balanced life operates much like a balanced budget. With more expenditure than income, we quickly become overdrawn. To create balance, requires reducing the expenditure and/or increasing income or capacity. One way to add capacity is to include others who can contribute effort and expertise. An assistant, a coach or a mentor can play a significant role in adding knowledge and bandwidth.
Certainly, there will be periods where feelings of overwhelm may be unavoidable, but the strategies noted here may help move you beyond overwhelm to a place of empowerment.