Psychologist Marla W. Deibler described overwhelm as “feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion.” She said that when we think a stressor is too much for us to manage, we feel overwhelmed. Well, I’m no psychologist, but I’ve certainly experienced that in my life. Our work lives are becoming more and more demanding; it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet, and life continues to present us with ever more complex challenges. Add to that personal or family needs, and it’s easy to feel like we’re in over our heads.
Many of us feel overwhelmed in our daily lives, but overwhelm isn’t good for us. For one, it’s counterproductive. It makes us less productive, which makes us even more overwhelmed – it’s a vicious cycle. And what’s worse, overwhelm isn’t good for our overall well being. We lose our peace of mind and become stressed, anxious, irritated, or angry. Not to mention, we aren’t the best company to be around. But there is hope – ways for us to deal with overwhelm in our lives. Here are nine ways to handle overwhelm.
1. Get organized – make a list and prioritize
Most times, when we feel overwhelmed, things seem chaotic or out of control. Getting organized can help to bring some order and reclaim some control.
Make a list of all the things you have to do in order of the most important/urgent. Doing this would remove some of the mental clutter and give you some clarity. You would know what you have to do and what requires your immediate attention. Also, plan out the average amount of time that you think appropriate to spend on each task. That way, you won’t spend all your time on just one task.
2. Set boundaries on your time and workload
Another way to handle overwhelm in our lives is to know when to say “No”. No both to ourselves and others. We need to be aware of our limits – what we can and cannot handle. Sometimes we can introduce overwhelm into our lives when we play superman or superwoman and try to carry too heavy a load.
3. Don’t “Multitask”
Multiple studies have shown that multitasking is, in fact, a myth. Yea, that kind of surprised me as well. You may think that you’re responding to work emails while chatting on the phone to a friend and occasionally glimpsing up at the evening television news. But what is really happening is your brain is continuously switching from task to task. In reality, we can only focus on one thing at a time, and trying to multitask can exhaust us mentally. Plus, overwhelm is feeling like we have too many things to do all at once. So, getting out of the multitasking mindset and focusing on one thing at a time can simplify life and reduce the feeling of overload.
4. Focus and give it your best
If you’ve organized your workload and stifled the urge to multitask, you will be better prepared to give full attention to what is in front of you and finish it. Focus on the one thing that you’re doing and try your best to get it done well. For me, ticking items off my list as completed gives me a sense of satisfaction. I know that I’m making progress, and this helps to beat overwhelm.
5. Lean on people and delegate
Completing tasks doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. One very effective way to handle overwhelm in our lives is with the support of others. Lean on others for help where you think you may need it and delegate tasks to competent persons if you can.
“You can do anything, but not everything.”David Allen
6. Know when to take a break
Take a deep breath. Get a cup of tea or coffee and do nothing while you sip on it. Go outside and stretch your legs – walk, and take in the surroundings. Take a 20-minute nap. Sometimes taking a little break is just what we need to get our minds relaxed and off what we’re doing or have to do.
7. Be kind to yourself
Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. Overwhelm can lead to feelings of inadequacy and failure. And sometimes, we could be our own harshest critics. So remember to be kind with yourself – turn down the negative criticism and turn up the positive affirmations.
8. Stay in the moment
Overwhelm stems not only from trying to do too many things at once, but also from living too far in the future. In a way, our minds wander too far from where we are and what we can do at the moment. So we need to try to remain centered and stay in the moment. Be present and focus on the stuff that we actually can do.
9. Remember the bigger picture
You know there have been so many times in my life that I’ve found myself super overwhelmed. Stressed out and worried over this thing and that thing. From final exams at school to deadlines at work to various financial challenges. But what I’ve realized is that each of these challenges has come and gone but I’ve continued to live – life goes on. In other words, most of these things that cause us overwhelm aren’t matters of life and death. Contrary to how they might feel in the moment, they are ‘nt the end of the world. They are just a small part of our journey through life. For me, stepping out and away from my problems in this way and looking at the bigger picture helps make the stressors and challenges in my life not seem so big.
All kinds of challenges are hurled at us daily. Many times, we have no control over what comes our way, and when they occur. But what we do have control over, to some degree, is how we respond to these challenges. We don’t have to feel like we are perpetually drowning. We can handle the overwhelm in our lives and maybe even feel calm and centered. Comment below if this post has been any benefit to you. Also, drop a comment if there is any other way that you deal with overwhelm in your life.
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I wish you every success in life and in the pursuit of your passions and purpose.
A fellow traveler on the road toward financial freedom and a more meaningful life. More About Me and My Blog.