Ever find yourself so irritated, aggravated and on edge, that it’s hard to just be, let alone be around others?
Me too, and I’ll tell you what, that is a sure sign of feeling overwhelmed! Thanks to years of personal practice and professional experience I’ve create a short, simple, but supper effective list of five things you can do to overcome overwhelm.
Feel free to practice them when you’re already stressed out, or better yet, get in the habit of doing any or all of them on a regular basis. I guarantee you’ll feel better.
1. Take small breaks throughout the day.
Both on work days, but also on your days off it’s important to create pockets of time to slow down, check in, take stalk of how we’re doing and then take action to address whatever you might be dealing with.
Being on the go, go, go all the time, whether for fun or work, is not conducive to overcoming overwhelm.
2. Apply the 5 minute principle
That feeling of being pulled in a thousand directions by all the to-dos on your lists could be significantly reduced if we all just applied the 5 minute principle, which states that:
A) Anything that can be done in less than five minutes is best done right away (sorting though the mail you just grabbed in the box, putting your keys on the hook, instead of the coffee table, getting that plate in the dishwasher rather than leaving it in the sink…).
B) You can get a lot more done in 5 minutes or less than you think. Try it, put 5 minutes on the clock and tidy the living room, fold your laundry or tighten that door handle that’s been bugging you for 8 months.
3. Step outside the box
Most of us spend our days boxed in. We wake-up in a box (our bedroom), inside a larger box (our house), we move from that big box to a mobile box (car, subway, bus) to get to our next box (office, grocery store, gym), and so on throughout the day.
When you start to feel stressed, being confined in a box really limits your thinking, as both figuratively and literally your perspective is obstructed.
Make a point of stepping outside (regardless of weather conditions) and looking up to the sky on a daily basis. Notice how rapidly this simple action relieves stress and the oppressive feeling of being overwhelmed.
4. Cultivate silence & solitude
Noise is proven to increase irritability, anxiety, stress and a number of health issues. Even the most gregarious and extroverted people need moments of solitude and silence. The blaring of radios and TVs, the background hum of traffic and A/C units, the incessant chatter (virtual and real) of our social lives is exhausting. There’s a reason exposing people to noise is a well known form of torture.
Take 2-5 minutes several times a day to just sit in silence and breathe. I’d say practice the Art of Nothing, but honestly, do whatever you need to do, just do it without noise or stimulation of any kind.
Last, and most importantly…
5. Focus on what you need* first
Making decisions based on your needs forces you to shift from reacting to whatever the world is throwing at you, to living and making choices with purpose. It allows you to think about your larger goals, create real priorities, and address the too oft forgotten need for self care.
You’d be surprised what a HUGE difference that makes, and how easy it is to overcome feeling overwhelmed when you use this as your guiding principle.
*note I said what you need, not what you want, these are sometimes, but not always the same. Listen to this short podcast episode and learn the difference between the two.
So go ahead, and take a stand, remember that overbooked and overwhelmed is no way to live. It’s not normal to wake-up feeling stressed, nor is it normal to go home every night exhausted by your day.
If you’re feeling that way, you have a choice in the matter. Start by taking 2-5 minutes to slow down and check in, try practicing the Art of Nothing (get your free 7 day challenge right HERE), or practice any one of these 5 steps I just outlined, I bet you’ll feel better in no time at all.
How about it, what steps do you think you’ll take to overcome overwhelm? Do you know what tips the scales for you and stresses you out the most? Would love to read about in the comments.