5 Ways for Overcoming ‘Overwhelm’

overwhelmed bwThe amount of people suffering from chronic stress and depression is on the rise. In fact we probably all experience both to varying degrees at times. Tony Robbins suggests that in many cases overwhelm precedes depression, so it seems like a great topic for me to focus on; plus I have worked with a number of people in this space.  

Some background

Firstly, I am assuming all of us have been overwhelmed before. Whether for short periods or longer periods. The short stuff is manageable. It is the longer, chronic overwhelm we want to avoid.

3 things that impact us in this regard:

  1. What we think we need to be, do and have
  2. What we think others expect us to be, do or have
  3. What the ‘media’ is jamming down our sensory faculties to tell us what we need to be, do, or have (otherwise there is something wrong with us)

The good thing about all of these, is that we can control them to some degree. And that is what I will be focusing on today. And as you can tell, I am not a huge fan of ‘mass’ media, which is there for one purpose – which isn’t to inform us. It is to make $$$$$$. Madonna was onto something when she said we live in a material world – but that is another topic for another day.

For now, let’s overcome overwhelm!

Tip 1: Stay awake

The more ‘conscious’ we are, the better choices we make. I write about this a lot in my new book. Consciousness is about awareness, perspective, and you being a co-creator of your life. It is also about being fully aware of when you are getting to a number 8 on your overwhelm meter.

No one else knows inside you, like you do. That is why personal trainers have this thing where they ask their client how are they feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. 10 is about to croak it, and 1 is nodding off to sleep. You need to self monitor your overwhelm or stress levels. This is step 1. To do so you need to become self-aware. Remain conscious of what you are doing or not doing. What you are saying and what you are feeling. This is essential.

Tip 2: Slow down

I say slow down all the time and I am saying it again (and to myself as I type this). We all need to heed this message. Why are you and I in a rush? Does what we are trying to achieve need to be done this day, this week, this month, or even at all?

Goal setting is a great thing and meaningful goal setting is essential for happiness. But here is the thing with goal setting. In most cases WE set the date to achieve the goal. We control it. And the date is a best guess at the time. It is self imposed. So if you need to push the date back, then do it. Take the pressure of yourself if you need to. Free up some space for the fun stuff or just to chill out.

Tip 3: Pull the shutters down

What follows is a small word, but really big when it comes to winding down stress and overwhelm. The word is ‘no’. When you get to an 8 on your overwhelm meter, start throwing around no’s, like your health depended on it (which it does). Overwhelm is closely related to taking on too much, in too short a time, with limited or no resources. Something has to give. So before it does, say ‘no’.

A wee problem…

This comes up often with my clients. People don’t feel ‘comfortable’ saying no, because they are worried about what other people will think of them (plus they might have been conditioned by the media to feel shame if they can not achieve all of these things because this other person over here has).

Throughout history no-one has ever been liked by every one. Whether it was Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, or Mother Teresa, or even the Dalia Lama. So the news flash is you won’t be liked by everyone all the time either. So get over that right now. 😉

You might upset people with your no’s, but that is more their problem than yours. Your aim is to avoid overwhelm so you can be happier and healthier and more fun to be around for a longer period of time.

‘People pleasing’ is very different to deep caring and compassion for others. People pleasing is about doing stuff, purely so you get something in return. Their approval, praise or recognition. (People pleasing is usually to fill a void in self-worth and tied up with inner beliefs. Maybe another subject for later & definitely something I work with frequently). 

Tip 4: Get creative

There is a great productivity tip that relates to emails, which actually is relevant here and a great model. It suggests there are 4 choices when receiving an email and they are made in this specific order:

  1. Delete it (like saying no)
  2. Delegate it
  3. File it
  4. Respond to it

The one I want to focus on is ‘delegate it’. This is about working smarter and not harder. This is about using all the resources you have available. Asking for help when you need it. Coming up with creative and resourceful solutions. Be ok with passing off some of your work to someone else (who might do it much better than you). Being the super person and doing it all yourself is not that admirable in my humble opinion, it shows a lack of resourcefulness, creativity and brainpower.

Tip 5: What is most important?

This also requires consciousness and awareness and a dash of wisdom. YOU need to choose what is most important. Not the ‘news’ or the Good Morning show or Mens Fitness or Marie Claire or your friends for that matter. You need to take a step back, down tools, breathe and ask yourself, ‘what is most important in my life?’ Chances are it won’t be the latest edition of the iPad or that new outfit.

It is more likely to be uplifting friends, adventures, great company, a connection with nature, playing with your dog, and spending time with your family.

This is my observation

Many people are working long, hard hours, to earn the money to buy things that they don’t really need, that cause them stress to manage or maintain, and the production of which leaves a toll on the environment.

Cleaning out your cupboards is a great metaphor for life. Get rid of the things that are of no value to you. Simplify your life. Focus on the real stuff. Don’t buy stuff to impress others. When we get rid of a lot of stuff we don’t need in life – physical and non-physical – it leaves a lot more space in our lives for the fun stuff. And a lot less likelihood of overwhelm.

My parting words

We all feel overwhelmed at times. The aim is to reduce the time we spend there. The longer we spend in overwhelm, the more health issues we will have and the harder it is to get out of. The more conscious we are of the choices we are making or not making, and the reasons why, the more wisdom we bring into our lives. Our lives, and level of overwhelm are mostly dependent on our choices. When we make better choices, in each moment, the sum is an amazing life. Of course we will have the occasional periods of overwhelm, but they will not last long and not define our lives.

Would you like to add anything from your own observations?
If you do have any comments or insights you would like to share, head over to the Blog, or jump on my Facebook page to continue the dialogue (and pick my mind).

As always, if you want a hand dealing with too much overwhelm in your life, then consider the possibility if you worked with me for 3-12 months. Hmmm…the possibilities…. If you are interested; just reply to this email to find out more or check out

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