As noted in my post last week , I was over the whole being an adult thing. Yup, this mom basically gave up on fulfilling her “chore” list and took a night off. I didn’t do anything glamorous or even venture out of my own house. This lead into a week where we were put into several situations that caused me to be super overwhelmed. So I did some digging around and found a couple of sources I liked for noting what happens to you when you are overwhelmed and how to handle it. I will insert a few of my own tips and tricks for you as well.
The dictionary definition of overwhelmed: 1. Bury or drown beneath a huge mass (I wonder if laundry counts?) 2. to defeat completely 3) give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate (HELLO MOTHERHOOD!) Psychcentral put it perfectly “feeling overwhelmed has many faces. It might manifest as an intense emotion, such as anxiety, anger or irritability; maladaptive thought process, such as worry, doubt or helplessness; and behavior, such as crying, lashing out or experiencing a panic attack.” Therefore, on those days where everything feels like it’s just too much; well it’s NORMAL! How nice is that to hear? In a world where we really don’t talk about the pressures of “having it all” as much as we should.
Being overwhelmed is obviously as personal as your choice in shoes. In my house it might look something like this: oldest tween comes home with a book report due in one day and the toddler is sick, plus husband has done something to his back so he can barely move. Add to the mix something to do with a blog post, taking a new e-course on blogging (more on that later) and working full time…. That’s my example.. 🙂 I am sure everyone out there has a similar story; plus everyone getting ready for the Halloween extravaganza!
Since we are all about balance here, I did some research. In my findings I pulled a couple of examples from an article written by Forbes yes, a business publisher on getting overwhelmed. I thought for being a new blogger/business owner plus many other blogger/business owners this was a perfect place for information.
Only do what only you can do
This one can be tough for those of us with self-inflicted guilt issues. J But pick and choose what you really can do. If the tween can put laundry in the dryer, then have them help. If you really need to get some work done, then focus on that. Forbes says – Some tasks should be handed off, and doing so will reduce your load. Try this. For the next few days, before you do anything, ask yourself: Am I the only person who can do this? Should I be the only person who can do this? If the answer to either question is no, don’t do it…and if the first answer is yes but the second answer is no – hire or train someone to do that task, and then delegate it to them. (OR! Drop something altogether if it just doesn’t fit the flow of the day *my input)
This is that moment in the day when you really want to zone out and play Candy Crush for an hour and ignore all the anxiety eating your guts. But finding a good flow to your day can really help ease up the overwhelming feelings too. Fight the urge to go on auto pilot or ignoring everything and giving up. Forbes says– Possibility a good deal of leaders’ time every day gets sucked up into self-generated tasks and conversations that are simply not productive. Taking a rejuvenation break, or having a lighthearted, fun conversation with a colleague, or getting outside for a few minutes can all be worthwhile, even necessary. Just choose wisely, grasshopper: make sure that when you are engaged in ‘miscellaneous’ activities, they actually support your mental, physical and emotional health, vs. being a mindless zone-out.
Find time to think
Take a moment to think and focus, write out a list of accomplishments, think about what is most important to you. This is just supposed to be a short amount of time to look at this laundry list of items you have on your plate and view it from another perspective. Don’t dwell on how long the list is, just take a moment to think outside the list. It’s sort of like “sleeping” on the problem to find the answer. Sometimes stepping back gives new perspective. Forbes says: No matter how slammed you are, if you carve out some time – even 15 minutes a day – to step back from the fray and look at your life and work from a distance, it will help you use the rest of your time much more effectively. Helping set you free to see your way through a challenging situation, or to think fresh about a problem that’s been stumping you.
I personally am still learning how to do this. I know on the days I really take a moment and say no, after the guilt subsides, I feel so much better. But I need to really put this to more practice! Forbes says: Learning how to say no – diplomatically and graciously, but still no – can be a life-saver. People who are the most overwhelmed simply don’t know how or aren’t willing to set reasonable boundaries for themselves, and end up committing to much more than they can reasonably accomplish. Whenever someone makes a request of you, before you say yes, think about whether or not you can actually deliver, without crowding out other commitments or leaving yourself burning the midnight oil. If a ‘yes’ puts you over the line, respectfully decline. And even if the requester is your boss or your client, say no but just frame it as “that would be difficult, given my current priorities; let’s find another way to get this done.”
Tips from Pychentral.com
They have a list of six strategies to help when feeling overwhelmed. I chose my top three; three that I personally use when I am just feeling too overwhelmed but when I really have to face the tasks at hand.
- Accept your anxiety. Has fighting your feelings of overwhelmed ever helped you erase them? Probably not. More likely, battling your emotions only boosted them. “It’s ‘normal’ to experience some degree of anxiety when stressors are unfamiliar, unpredictable, or imminent.” Think of acceptance as riding out a wave.
- Change your multitasking mindset. “Multitasking by definition implies that we are doing too many things at once.” They suggest readers to shift their perspective. “We have to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now ‘or else'”
- Focus on right now. When you’re consumed with what may or may not happen in several minutes or months, you can’t appreciate the here and now. Instead, schedule time to plan for the future, so you can breath in the present moment, they suggest.
My two cents for how to handle being overwhelmed
- Give yourself a pep talk: I literally do this at least once a day. I have to remind myself I have done hard things and I can continue to do hard things on the hard days. I am surviving every parent’s worst nightmare with losing my son. So on those days where everyone seems to demand a piece of me, well I tell myself “you got up yesterday, you got up today, you WILL get up tomorrow! And you will do the best you can!”
- Take it one item at a time: This seems like a no brainer and it mirrors a couple of the mentioned points above but really I have to remind myself to just slow down. If Mr. E (my two yr old) and the dogs have destroyed the living room then I choose to live with knowing the living room will need picking up later. I have three projects to get done at my office and a blog post needing tweaking?! Well right now the office wins because the blog is still new and not quite paying the bills (yet!). So I carve out a better time to work on the blog.
Moral of the story, we all are living a chaotic human existence and really we don’t need to beat ourselves up over the small things. We don’t need to cry over spilled water (I won’t say milk, that stuff can get pricey ;)). But if we give 100% of ourselves everyday and do what we can, maybe laugh a little (or a lot!). Then I think we will all be fine.
What’s your favorite way to handle stress or being overwhelmed?