You know that feeling; so much to do, too little time, multiple priorities and expectations….?
The feeling that can become super heavy at this time of the year.
Blimey it’s exhausting just writing about it.
And it’s becoming a constant issue for so many people these days, particularly with the ‘always on’ mentality we have in using smartphones. Technology is starting to take a hold on us, making us more reactive and unable to sit still for too long without looking at a screen.
I know how overwhelm can feel really yucky. That feeling of the mind racing a million miles an hour and never being able to completely switch off. Competing ‘priorities’, demands from others, high expectations of ourselves, and the feeling of never enough time.
Oh boy, have I been there.
Years ago I was doing doing doing all the time, but not ‘doing’ from a place of feeling into my heart and soul and following that calling. I was doing stuff daily that I didn’t care about, for other people and for an identity that I was completely attached to.
I have witnessed in myself and in others that if we ‘let’ ourselves to get into this state it can be really unsettling to our wellbeing and our relationships with those people around us. And when I say ‘let ourselves get into this state’ that’s because it really is something that we have control over, however when we’re in that place of overwhelm that can lead to defensive, reactive, angry, frustrated behaviours we can have a tendency to blame external circumstances for the way we are feeling.
The thing is, what I have learned in the last 5 years of studying yoga and coaching, along with a tonne of self study is that we have total control over the way we show up in the world. And that also includes any stress and overwhelm we feel. And here’s the good news, if we can create these responses then we can also do something to turn them around. If we honestly dig a little into ourselves, we can begin to take the responsibility back into our own hands and make changes to bring about more calm and ease in our lives.
It starts with us.
We don’t need to let this be a constant pattern in our lives.
The first step is to recognise that all of the things that are overwhelming, you have the power to change. We always have the choice to make changes in our lives that support us. You just have to ‘allow’ yourself to and do away with all of the excuses and potentially make some sacrifices. You can make some changes in your life to re-prioritise things.
Being gentle and kind to yourself as you undertake the changes in your life is key, along with ensuring that you start small and then build from there.
So here are my tips, give them a whirl and see how you go:
- Only do what only you can do.
Whether at work or at home, or both, there are likely to be things that you’re doing that someone else can help you with. Often we continue to do tasks because we either have always done them from a place of habit OR we find it hard to let go of the control.
Ask yourself the question: Am I the only person who can do this?
If the answer is no then ask for help. If the answer is yes, then hire or train someone to do that task, and then delegate it to them.
- Make meetings count
Make sure that everyone in a meeting knows “TTOG” – topic, time, owner, goal. Ensure everyone knows; what are we talking about? How long are we going to spend on it? Who’s responsible for it? And most importantly WHY are we discussing it? Making a habit of doing these things will ensure that everyone’s time will be much better spent.
- Be mindful
The more present we are with ourselves and the people around us, the more we connect and the less stress we feel.
Check in with yourself throughout the day and ask yourself the following questions ( you can set an alarm in your calendar to remind you to come back to the present moment):
-How focused am I on the task at hand?
-Am I truly listening to the person talking to me without thinking about what I want to say?
-How does my body feel? Where do I feel overwhelm in my body?
-How does my breath feel?
- Journal it out
Sometimes we can have so much in our heads that we have ‘mind fog’, a feeling of confusion, no clarity of thought and we don’t even know where to start. Grab a pen and start writing out how you feel, write without thinking.
- Question your assumptions.
Often we do things in our work life and home life, just because we feel ‘we have to’, ‘should do’, ‘must do’ – but if we question this, we may realise that we’re doing things from habit or because a part of us is trying to stay in control.
Truly question these assumptions – what are you doing that could be a waste of time, bringing little value to yourself or others? Give yourself permission to scrap projects or tasks from your list that are no longer serving you or anyone else.
- Find some white space
This may seem entirely counter-intuitive when you’re super-busy, but i’ve found that it’s so important in our ‘busy’ lives. No matter how slammed you are, if you create some time – even just 15 minutes a day to step back from the day and look at your life and work from a distance, it will help you use the rest of your time much more effectively.
That time can feel like a little mini-vacation, it’ll lower your heart rate and your blood pressure in a way that can feel truly rejuvenating. And that can give you the space to see your way through a challenging situation, or to think fresh about a problem that’s been troubling you. Or pop your legs up the wall in viparita kirani pose, close your eyes and breathe deeply. This is also a fave of mine to give that much needed ‘space’.
- Meditate/Do yoga
This post would not be complete without mentioning yoga and meditation! These activities are growing in popularity and for good reason – research shows that meditation and yoga lower stress levels, they help the nervous system to switch to a state of rest and digest and calm our entire body. Find yourself a good studio where you feel comfortable or learn yoga and meditation from your own home. Try www.yogaglo.com, www.gaia.com, and www.headspace.com
- Get support.
Often when we’re feeling under the pump, we vent to friends, family, and even colleagues; complaining and – sometimes if we admit it – we whine about our problems. I know I have definitely been a culprit of that in the past. In small doses, this can be a welcome relief. However, a continual diet of complaining can make you feel even worse, like a helpless, victim. And it will also place a lot of pressure of friendships and relationships.
What can help is to ask other people how they have resolved similar issues in their lives. However, what’s probably the most healthy way to approach this is to seek outside help. If the issues are serious, then do seek out the professional help of a counsellor or psychologist, however if the issues are more related to a feeling of repeating patterns and feeling down and stuck, then a life coach can help you to re-orient your perspectives and shine a light on how to move forward. One of the reasons I love coaching clients so much is that the empowerment is placed in the hands of the client – you (the client) have all of the solutions, sometimes it just takes another person to ask the right questions and guide you to help you come to that conclusion.
- Say no and set boundaries
Learning how to say no – diplomatically and graciously, but still no – can be an absolute life-saver.
Many of the people I coach who tend to be the most overwhelmed simply don’t know how or aren’t willing to set reasonable boundaries for themselves, and so end up committing to much more than they can accomplish (and sometimes this can come from a people pleasing place). And I know this so very well as a recovering people pleaser myself.
So whenever someone makes a request of you, before you say yes, think about whether or not you can actually deliver on the commitment you’d be making; Do you want to do it? Does it feel ‘good’? Will it exhaust you to complete the work/attend the conference/go to the party? This can apply to work situations and social situations.
Of course, sometimes we have certain responsibilities or commitments, but if we ask the right questions to ourselves, we can then begin to make changes in our lives that serve our energy and happiness so that we can be a better version of ourselves and give to others from a place of wholeheartedness and abundance.
I hope that you have found these tips helpful.
Do let me know how you go in the comments below, remember that small things done repeatedly over time lead to big results. The key is to show up consistently to yourself.
If you need a helping hand or support on your journey, then contact me and we can arrange a free 30 min consult to talk about you.