Top 10 Ways to Deal with Overwhelm
by Michael Angier
Thinning Yields Life's Choicest Fruits
My Story: Getting Life Under Control
Just Say No
Lately, many of the people I've been talking with or coaching have been complaining about being overwhelmed. I have to admit that I've been wrestling with it too.
My ideas and my commitments seem to far outpace my time and energy. So here's my advice to you and to myselffor dealing with overwhelm.
- Recognize that overwhelm isn't real. It's not something that attacks us. It's a feeling we experience based upon a belief there's too much to do and too little time to do it. It's fear, plain and simple. And once we recognize and acknowledge it, we're better equipped to deal with it.
- Be grateful. Just think, the alternative is that you have little to do and you're bored. Appreciate the fact that you have the opportunities and the projects that allow you to contribute to the world.
- Accept the fact you'll never be caught up. If you're a person of action - someone with goals and aspirations - it's not too likely you'll ever have an empty inbox. The times in which we live and our ability to do meaningful work throughout our lives leads me to believe that we will always have things left to do.
- Understand that we can only think about one thing at a time. We may be able to multi-task and we may be able to switch our thoughts very rapidly, but we really can hold only one thought in our mind at a time. Trying to think about more than one thing at once is very tiring and frustrating.
- Be selective. The biggest weapon you have in fighting overwhelm is your ability to prioritize what you need to do. By making intelligent choices based upon urgent, non-urgent, important and non-important, we can focus better. By basing these choices on our core values, we can relax in the belief that we're doing what matters most.
- Delegate. Learn to gain the assistance of others. People like to help, but you have to ask. Anything that can be adequately done by someone else should be delegated. It's an important skill worth developing.
Learn to say no. Our feelings of overwhelm largely come from taking on too much. If you're asked to do something, don't be too quick to accept the assignment. You might think you're being a nice person, but if you succumb to health problems because of it, you won't be nice for very much longer.
If you're TOLD to do something (by a boss, for instance), ask them which things they would like to have you put off while you complete the new assignment.
Take care of yourself. There will always be times when we're called upon to put forth extra effort. And we can if we've been taking good care of ourselves right along. For those periods where extra drive, a few extra hours and hard work are required, we need to be in good shape, mentally and physically.
If we've been eating, sleeping and exercising properly, we'll be far better prepared for the extra stress our lives require.
Remember to take breaks. The tendency for many of us is to work harder and longer. In actuality, we can get more done in less time and with less effort if we take breaks.
- Breathe. When we feel overwhelmed, we have a tendency to tighten up instead of relax. It seems like there are many things we HAVE to do, but the only thing we REALLY have to do is breathe. Take some long deep breaths and feel yourself returning to the present.
- Focus on the task at hand. If we're thinking about what's NOT getting done or all the other things we have to do, we can't focus well on what we're doing now. Think about what you ARE doing rather than what you're NOT getting done. Otherwise, you're going to be defeated by your feelings of overwhelm.
Use these ten tips in dealing with overwhelm and you'll find yourself feeling more in charge and at peace.
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