What to do when you feel overwhelmed with life
If I asked you to write a list of all the things you’ve done and thought about doing over the last week, how long would that list be? For most of you I’m guessing it’s a pretty long list!
Most of us would describe our lives as ‘busy’ but there’s a point when feeling busy turns into feeling overwhelmed. Where as feeling busy means you’re usually keeping on top of things, albeit feeling the strain, I’ve found that overwhelm is the point at which busy becomes too much and you’re almost paralysed into inaction by the sheer volume of things going round in your head – often thoughts of all the things you should be doing!
Usually we’re our own worst enemies when it comes to overwhelm – I’ve seen people (including myself at times) try and ‘balance’ a difficult situation by piling on things they believe are helpful. Imagine a seesaw with a huge rock on one side (let’s say your job) and then piling on more and more stuff on the other side (yoga, meditation, meal planning, running etc) in an attempt to balance that out – what happens? The seesaw breaks in half!
I guess what I’m saying is that everyone’s seesaw can only hold so much weight – when you try and pile on more and more that seesaw breaks – i.e. you burnout and feel overwhelmed.
So how do you start and overcome this and feel more calm and in control of your life?
Here’s a few pointers that have helped me…
Write it all down
One of the signs of overwhelm is overthinking things and feeling ‘stuck’ in your head. Try writing it all down to get it out, even if the list makes no sense, and even if seeing it all written down feels scary, do it knowing this is the beginning of making things better.
Decide what’s really important
A few weeks ago I shared a simple exercise in my Facebook group to help people ditch overwhelm. Just draw a circle on an A4 piece of paper and write everything that’s important to you inside it. Now consider all the things that are making you feel overwhelmed on the list you wrote before – what things are inside or not inside your circle?
This is your opportunity to focus on what’s actually important to you. Keeping your circle of importance no more than A4 size (go A5 if you’re feeling up for it!) means you can only write so much stuff in there.
You might have to face some difficult decisions about cancelling projects, rearranging coffee dates, turning down ‘opportunities’ and getting a big dose of FOMO (fear of missing out) but keep reminding yourself that it’s best to focus on the things that are important to you – everything else is fluff holding you back and making you miserable in the long run!
Embrace a minimalist mindset
Most people think of minimalism when it comes to physical possessions but I’ve found that having a minimalist mindset is really helpful when it comes to ditching overwhelm. If you take some of the main guidelines of minimalism to all areas of your life it can help reduce how much you have on your plate. Asking yourself what brings you joy, what’s important, what’s useful etc can be another way to assess what you have going on in your life and reduce it.
Of course minimising your possessions can also help with overwhelm too, but just make sure that by adding minimalism to your ‘list’ you’re not in fact creating more overwhelm!
Focus on your non negotiables
Non negotiables is just a way to describe the habits you know make a huge positive impact on your life – by calling them ‘non negotiables’ you frame them as such! What so many people do is they don’t master those non negotiable habits because they’re so busy trying to pile on more things they think will help. Master your non negotiables and you’ll probably find you don’t need to add on more ‘stuff’. For example my non negotiables are sleep, movement, journaling and eating vegetables everyday. When I do those 4 things consistently I’m winning – but what I’ve done in the past is divide up my mental energy by trying to add in meditation and lots of other things before I’ve actually got the main 4 things mastered, which means I don’t achieve anything with any consistency – then I feel overwhelmed!
Think about no more than 4 non negotiable habits and put your focus there rather than trying every random wellness trend!
Accept you have to let things go
The main block to ditching overwhelm is not wanting to let things go. When you accept that letting go of things mentally and physically is an essential part of living a happy productive life everything gets easier. That could be letting go of relationships, ideas of who you are, projects, physical items, habits etc. Remember when you let go of unhelpful things you make space for the things that are most important to you – time with your children or loved ones, peace and ease, presence and creativity.
Like pretty much everything in life, how you think about things is your foundation. Mindset work is about ‘tuning up’ how you think about different areas of life so you can think in a different way and therefore feel and act differently. If you want to change something in your life, you’ve got to start with how you think about it.
My Mindset Makeover Course is starting next week on Monday 19th March 2018, if you’d like to learn a bunch of techniques for mastering your mindset this is the course for you. But remember, this isn’t about adding more overwhelm to your life, this is about learning tools that stop overwhelm, stress and anxiety in its tracks and changing the way your brain works to stop those unhelpful patterns.
Find out more about the course at mindsetmakeovercourse.com!
How often do you feel overwhelmed? Which of these tips are the most helpful?