What To Do When You're Feeling Overwhelmed
I hate telling people that I’m busy or that things are crazy, and I hate pushing things off. I hate those things because I know when I’m in that place I’m not living the life I want to be living. I’m not balanced and giving the best of myself. And I’m most certainly not at my optimal level of life enjoyment.
I usually write and share something on here every week. A few of those weeks have lapsed, and I’m going to explain why, not because I feel I owe you an explanation, but because I think the reason is something we can all relate to.
I am overwhelmed.
Or you could say that I have a lot on my plate. Too much on plate. I’m a little off balance. The hours seems to be flying by at an extraordinary speed. Everything I do appears to have overtones of the next thing I need to do. That, I know, means that I’m not entirely present. And that is not the way I want to live my life.
I wrote a short note on Instagram about what I do when I’m overwhelmed, and people seemed to relate to it.
It’s no surprise considering most of us feel overwhelmed. Most of us have a really hard time saying no and a really easy time saying yes. Most of us think we’re capable of accomplishing far more than we’re capable of accomplishing on any given day. Well, I might scratch that. This is likely the truer truth: most of us know we can’t accomplish all of the things on our to do lists, but we put them on there anyway.
I’m not going to get into all of the things we can do to not get us into this place of overwhelm in the first place. I think most of you know what you need to do:
know your limitations
learn good time management
learn how to say no
What I do want to get into is what to do when those things fail you, what to do when you know better but you find yourself trying to do way more than you can possibly do.
My story last week and this week is that I said yes to too many things at a previous time and then had unexpected (although good!) things pop up around the same time. Sometimes we get into those situations that are difficult to avoid, where there’s an awesome opportunity and we have to be a little off balance and stretch ourselves in order to take advantage of a particular opportunity. And the necessity in those times is to cut it down to the bone.
That’s what I do when I’m overwhelmed. I take out the scissors and chop everything off. I look at my to do list and start shifting things. I move anything off my plate today that is not essential. I will say that again louder:
I cut everything out that is not essential.
How do I know what is essential? It’s usually something that has an external deadline. It’s something that other people are relying on me for, that I have agreed upon, and that is important to me.
And now I’m going to flip the script: I cut out things that other people are relying on me for, that I have agreed upon, and that are important to me. Maintaining plans with my friends is important to me. But I cut it out. Yes, I cancel plans. I say yes to something and then go back and say no. I don’t do this often, but I do it when I have to.
I also don’t look at things in terms of time. I look at them in terms of energy. What is requiring a lot of energy from me, but isn’t essential today or this week? Cut it out.
And then I reverse it.
What will take up my time but help energize me, restore me, or just plain make me feel good?
Do that. This one I find so important. We are so quick to cut out the things that we need most. We look at hot baths, quiet reading time, yoga, meditation, and conversations about anything other than what is overwhelming us as luxuries. Changing this mindset will be one of the best things you do for yourself during this time.
So if you’re feeling just like I’ve been feeling, if you have way too much to do and life isn’t feeling like fun anymore, take a moment to look at your life. Write down everything you have going on. Get it out of your mind and on paper or on the computer. Then start crossing things off, moving them to next week, and adding things that make you feel good. Then do one of those things first.
None of the things you’re working on that are making you feel overwhelmed are worth doing if your health or sanity are at stake.
Go be good to yourself.
Let me know in the comments below, what are you cutting out or adding back in so you feel more nourished and less overwhelmed?