We all have times in life where we find it difficult to get everything done and it feels like everything is going wrong.
For most of us this will be a temporary feeling that will disappear as we work out way through the issues and come out the other side. But for some of us, the feeling is constant and the overwhelm becomes unbearably overwhelming. This is when we need to pay attention because those feelings are valid and it's time to do something about them.
Overwhelm can be caused by stress, a traumatic life event or relationship issues and if not addressed, can lead to cognitive fatigue. It can also be caused buy constantly living in the future and worrying about what might happen or trying to find ways to solve potential problems that may never happen.
How do you know that you are suffering from overwhelm?
Common physical symptoms include : A heaviness around the chest area, difficulty breathing, aches and pains in the body, dizziness, teeth grinding and tiredness
Mentally it can exhibit as stress, anxiety, depression, loss of concentration, confusion, foggy thinking and impaired problem solving abilities. You may also feel unmotivated and find yourself putting things off which causes even more feelings of overwhelm
On top of this array of symptoms, its just not nice to feel that you can't cope.
So what can you do to overcome overwhelm?
The answer always starts with mindfulness.
It you are not paying attention to your thoughts and behaviours it's very difficult to identify when things start to become too much and its only when things get to crisis point that we see that we have a problem. Once we have become aware that we are not coping as well as we feel we could, we can begin to implement strategies to help us regain our sense of balance.
Step 1. Acceptance.
Be honest with yourself and accept that you cannot carry on as you are at the moment. Acknowledge all that needs to be done and tell yourself that you are going to find a way to deal with it all.
Step 2. Make a list of all the things that you need to do or solve.
Then go through the list and cross off anything that you have no control over. Take what's left and make a plan of small actions that you feel you can achieve and put them in place.
Step 3. Delegate.
You cannot do it all and you are not responsible for solving all the world's problems.
Look for jobs that you can pass off or share with other people and focus on getting your world under control. Other people will benefit from your calmness and seeing how you deal with something may encourage them to take responsibility for themselves and solve their own problems.
Step 4. Set boundaries.
You cannot be everything to everyone and nor should you be available to everyone 24 hours a day. You don't have to be confrontational or rude and you are certainly not being selfish or uncaring. In fact people will respect you and feel more valued when it is clear how much you respect yourself and gift them your time.
Step 5. Say NO.
It's perfectly OK to say NO. If you find it difficult, practice. Try saying, I would love to help but unfortunately, I can't do that for you or Thank you for asking me ,but I don't think it's for me or I understand that you need some help, I can't do that day/ time but I can do this date/time.
Using these strategies consistently will help to reduce your overwhelm and improve your health and coping skills which will improve your quality of life. Your first priority must be to yourself. You cannot help anyone else if you are exhausted and struggling.
The most courageous and proactive thing that you can do is ask for help.
If you would like to work with me on reducing the overwhelm, please get in touch.