When I am considering what to write, I don’t plan too far in advance. I see what common themes are coming up with my coaching clients each week. That is why it makes these Tips relevant and why I often have people saying ‘that is just what I needed to hear now’. Maybe this universe isn’t so random after all… 😉
So let’s talk overwhelm.
Here is my hypothesis:
Overwhelm is more a ‘state of mind’ or a ‘way of being’ as opposed to a ‘fixed external physical reality’.
Now for those of you currently experiencing ‘overwhelm’ and are ready to throw sharp heavy objects in my general direction because it is not in your mind and is ‘real’, I encourage you to read on. I am here to serve you, not make life harder for you.
I am here (pretty much on this planet) to help you.
Overwhelm reducing strategy 1: taking a closer look
Now what follows IS a reality.
What I think (the stories going on in my mind), causes me to feel a certain way. Buddha said that it is the meaning we give to an event that determines whether it is good or bad (a gift or a curse, a challenge or a problem, etc.).
So we want to be REALLY clear about using the word ‘overwhelmed’ because it is very likely to elicit a specific physiological response in our body at a nervous system, hormonal and therefore cellular level. It creates a stress response. And regardless of what is or isn’t happening, you will deal with it much more effectively if you are not freaking yourself and your inner body out. Stress most often does not equal creativity or awesome problem-solving super powers.
Therefore, could this sensation your experiencing be something else?
- Could it be that you are over-tired?
- Could it be that you are crap at delegating (because you think everything needs to be done by you, cause you are so frikkin awesome)?
- Could it be that you have unrealistic expectations about what you think you can do in a specific period of time?
- Could it be that you are people pleasing and therefore no-one is pushing you, but yourself? This means you are creating your own overwhelm sandwich.
- Could it be that you are on a hamster wheel and therefore have no conscious perspective?
- Could you be exaggerating the situation to get more love and connection and attention?
Slow down. And take a few moments to get some CLARITY and PERSPECTIVE. This alone may remove, reduce or tone down the emotion, so you can re-label this experience as something else. Like: I am really busy. I am really tired. I am crap at delegating. I am still trying to get others approval.
Now you have something you can work with. A thing called reality. Not a physiological response to a statement or thought of overwhelm.
Overwhelm reducing strategy 2: the priority thing
This is what I spend a lot of time doing with my clients. Getting clear about what they really want and then working out the high-priority, high-value activities, which will get them there.
When you start to do this overwhelm thing, after you have taken a step off the hamster wheel, ask yourself this very important question.
What ABSOLUTELY needs to be done now or in the immediate future (or the world will end)?
This is called PERSPECTIVE.
Not all the things we think we need to do, need to be done. That hair-dressing appointment that you are trying to squeeze between priorities like sleeping, eating well, and spending quality time with your family, might not be the highest priority right now. That example is for the guys as well as the girls. 😉
When we get real perspective, we realise that some of the things we are doing or planning to do, and spending our precious time on, are low-value activities.
So get really clear about the MUSTS and brush everything else to the side, until you have a bit more space and time, and move out of this feeling of overwhelm. I see life more as a marathon, as opposed to a sprint for the line, fall over, recover, and then sprint off again. I don’t mind an occasional sprint, but going from one sprint and collapse scenario to the next, does not sound like any sort of fun to me.
Get clear. Then prioritize.
Then work on high-value activities.
This might be something you need to do with your partner, your boss, your team, or your family. Your name is not Robinson Crusoe (I can say with 99.999% certainty). You are not stranded on a desert island by yourself. All of us have a team willing to support us, if only we have the courage (and smarts) to ask.
Overwhelm reducing strategy 3: choose even more wisely
Here is where we get even more practical.
When we are not taking care of our physical, mental and emotional self, our RESILIENCE and ability to cope with life’s inevitable challenges, is significantly reduced.
Overwhelm has a hard time taking hold, when you are in an optimal state of being. When you are thinking and consciously behaving in an optimal state you are capable of so much more.
We need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we can best serve those external to ourselves.
So let the practical strategies flow (like pixie dust on to the top of your head):
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. At least 7hrs a night.
- Make sure you eat highly nutritious food. Drastically reduce processed foods in your diet.
- Slow down (you knew it was coming).
- Do the mindfulness stuff (like 5 mins of deep conscious breathing).
- Spend time in nature, reconnecting with the bigger picture and see the harmony of mother nature at work (Note: She is not in a rush; only us little humans are. She is compassionately laughing at us. ;-)).
- See that councellor, coach, therapist, or confidante to help you get perspective and support. We all need help at times.
- Do that exercise thing, which you know produces all of those great chemicals for the brain. 😉
- Stretch the time-line on your goals if you need some breathing space.
- Schedule time each week to have some ‘me time’. Even if it is 10 mins. Don’t wait for the space, make the space.
- Ask yourself (or better yet journal on this question): ‘What is the story I am telling myself that makes me feel so overwhelmed?’ This activity will be DEEPLY revealing.
- Stop over-committing yourself. Seriously! Enough! N-O. No! No! No! Do it more often. This might be why 2 year olds are less stressed. 😉
- Know this: (whatever is or isn’t going on in your life) will pass too. Like everything else. Change is the nature of this universe.
Dealing with overwhelm is a lot about what you are thinking, and what you are doing (or not doing) as opposed to life forcing itself on you to make your life miserable. Yes life does push us, because it wants us to evolve. To grow. To become more. And I have this weird belief that life only pushes us to a level we are capable of. And we are all capable of so much more. And not in a throw-away line kind of way.
We all have the inner abilities and the resources around us, to survive and thrive in this thing called life. It is not always pretty, mind you, but nor is child-birth and how amazing is the result of that? 😉
The best version of you + the right people in your life = a fulfilling life.
Now are you overwhelmed or do you just need to make BETTER CHOICES?
And so we come to the end of another session with Carl Massy. I really hope you got something of value from me tapping away on this plastic keyboard thing.
I am also predicting that something great will happen for you in the next 24 hrs…and when it does I would like a 20% cut. 😉
Have a super day and all the very best!!
As always, please ask questions of me, or share your thoughts in a response email or by putting a post on Facebook.