What do you do when you have a lot on your plate? Panic and take a nap. I jest, but my personality type has led me to want to do the same many times over. I easily become overwhelmed. Like a deer in headlights I stop and don’t know what move to make next. The past few weeks have I have been dealing with overwhelm as I juggle my blog and work, family, house projects, exercise and trying to enjoy summer.
Today I am sharing a few tips on dealing with overwhelm. First, it’s normal to feel this way. Take a deep breath and tell yourself it’s OK. One of the first ways I handle overwhelm is to simply acknowledge I feel that way. In the past I would try to push my feelings aside, which never helped. While I am still working on the action plan when I am dealing with overwhelm – I can confidently say I am much better today at the acknowledgement part.
Next, try to determine what is making you feel overwhelmed. This is sometimes more challenging than it sounds. For me, it might be an impending work deadline, a social commitment or the the absurd length my to do list has grown to. This part may take some time, so be gentle with yourself as you determine what is truly bothering you. Sometimes it helps when I realize what item on my “to do list” if accomplished – would bring me great relief and help me feel accomplished for the rest of the day – once completed.
Once I have identified that issue, the next step is to tackle it. Tackling the task or item at hand may take several steps. If that’s the case I will write down (yes, with pen and paper) the steps I am going to take to accomplish the task. I may still feel like I’m dealing with overwhelm during the process, but slowly those feelings subside as I make progress on those steps. Eventually, once the task is complete I feel a great sigh of relief.
Before I begin to identify the area causing my overwhelm, and begin tackling those steps, however, sometimes I need a small break. The following are some of my personal tips for dealing with overwhelm. Often a short break, treat or incentive is all that is needed to muster up the courage and momentum to move on with my day. Feel free to utilize one, or all, of these tips as you process that overwhelming feeling and figure out the exact steps you are taking to tackle it.
10 Easy Tips for Dealing with Overwhelm
- Use a Meditation App: A few years I downloaded the ‘Meditation Studio‘ app on my iPhone which offers more than 250 short guided meditations for all areas of life from stress relief, to dealing with anxiety, sleep and more. The meditations vary in length but most are only five or 10 minutes. Using a meditation app is a quick way for me to reset and recharge.
- Walk Your Dog: Without fail, if I take my rescue dog Lulu for a short walk, even if it’s only around the block, I come home feeling refreshed and with a newly-focused mind set. If you do not have a pet, simply go for a walk or take a break to exercise. I’m a big fan of lunch-time exercise for this same reason.
- Turn on Music: Sometimes it’s just too quiet. Often I start my day with silence but by 9 or 10 a.m. I begin to feel like the day is starting to wane a bit. Usually around this time is when I realize I’ve had enough silence and it’s time to turn on some music to keep me going. Similarly, I will listen to podcasts and talk radio, for the same reasons.
- Stop Looking at Your Email: I’m not sure about you, but email is wonderful and yet totally stressful at the same time. There are either zero inbox people or people who are OK with having thousands of unread emails staring at me. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m definitely a zero inbox person. Email can also be distracting, causing me to flit from task to task, instead of setting aside a chunk of time to work on one piece of a project. I will hide, log out of or otherwise stay away from my email box so that I can start dealing with overwhelm and get my tasks completed.
- Use Aromatherapy Lotion: Aromatherapy is incredibly popular today, with reason. Scent therapy can impact mood, emotions and outlook on the day. My favorite aromatherapy lotion is locally made. It’s called Indu lotion and is made by local yogi Marni Task. It’s the same lotion that is frequently used on students during my power vinyasa classes. A tiny bit of aromatherapy lotion rubbed in my palms, on my temples or on my shoulders can help relief stress and give me a quick pick-me-up.
- Drink More Water: Often when I am most stressed I begin neglecting my health. It might be skipping workouts or eating poorly. In addition, I frequently lapse on drinking enough water. Being dehydrated can also cause headaches and an overall feeling of fogginess and lack of motivation. Whenever I am dealing with overwhelm I check how much water I’ve been drinking. Typically I chug what was left in my glass water bottle and then refill it.
- Clean: I’m a firm believer that a messy space can cause a messy life. When my desk, laundry or mail is piled a mile high I can’t help but feel overwhelmed when looking at the mess. Sometimes all I need to do is spend 15 to 20 minutes doing a quick clean of the area in question. Once the piles are tackled and items are put away I, too, feel ready to tackle whatever comes my way next.
- Journal: There’s a reason journaling is popular. Besides igniting the (almost) lost art of writing with pen and paper, journaling allows you to be 100 percent open and honest. You can journal about thoughts and feelings you may not feel comfortable sharing with another person, or work through emotions that might be hard to explain. If you are spiritual, journaling is also a popular way to connect with God. Like writing to a best friend, writing in your journal can be the saving grace during a day which otherwise may seem out of your hands. Moleskine journals are a popular journal.
- Make a “To Do” List: When I’m dealing with overwhelm, the cause can sometimes be incredibly simple. I didn’t wake up with an agenda or plan for my day and I didn’t create a to do list. In short, I have no direction for how I want my day to move. Taking a few minutes to jot down what I want to accomplish and breaking those accomplishments down into easy-to-execute steps can help me feel less stressed.
- Move Your Body: This last tip is a further play on walking (or running!) your dog. If you haven’t already gone for a short walk or exercised during your lunch hour – and even if you do – it’s time to move again. When I’m intently focused on something I can sit for one to two hours and not even realize I haven’t moved! An easy way to move your body is to perform a short stretching routine. If you sit at a desk for work, stretches for the hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back and shoulders can be especially helpful.
There you have it. Those were my 10 tips for dealing with overwhelm. I hope one, or some, of these tips will help you as you work through a stressful day. Take it one step and task at a time. These steps can also be used in combination when dealing with overwhelm. Whether you are working, parenting or simply trying to make the best use of your free time – all of these ways of dealing with overwhelm can help.