One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is overwhelm. It seems to be the thing that everyone suffers from these days. As a business owner, I suffer from it, too. There are always endless things to do, aren’t there?
The holiday season especially amps up feelings of overwhelm. Today we have more responsibilities, infinite choices, and way too many distractions. When you’re overwhelmed, space and time collapse. You’re left without any sense of inner-spaciousness. Feeling overwhelmed is not only dis-empowering, it’s an exhausting way to live.
So what can you do about it?
Remember that feeling overwhelmed a state of being. It has more to do with how you manage your time and energy, than the actual content in your life. Jackson Brown reminds us that Michelangelo, Mother Theresa and Albert Einstein also had 24 hours in a day!
Letting go of overwhelm starts with acknowledging how you feel. Here are the symptoms:
1. You feel anxious.
2. Your nerves are shot.
3. You constantly feel burdened and heavy.
4. You feel like you have no inner space.
5. It’s hard to breathe.
6. You’re constantly stressed and tensed.
7. You experience constant pressure.
8. You’re irritable.
9. There’s no fun in your life.
It’s important to have awareness about the way you feel. Only then are you to shift your energy. Too many people unconsciously live in a stressed and overwhelmed state of anxiety. It can start with a simple awareness, “I feel overwhelmed right now.”
Here’s what you can do to shift overwhelm:
1. STOP: Have the courage to stop what you’re doing. Stop the madness, spinning and chaos. Give yourself the space to SLOW DOWN, so you can see the bigger picture and get a handle on things. Take a day or two to rest, do nothing, and re-group. Re-gather yourself. Center yourself so that you have the energy to make wiser decisions.
2. Let Go of Some Things: Lin Yutang said, “besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” What don’t you need to do? What can you delegate or let go of?
3. Commit to Less. Having too much to do often has to do with unrealistic goal setting and over-committing your time and energy. Are you being overly ambitious? Are you not being realistic about your goals and what you can really do?
4. Say No. People who are overwhelmed spread their energy too thinly. Oftentimes, it’s hard for them to say “no” because they fear disappointing others. When you feel scattered and pulled apart in a lot of different directions, are you willing to pull yourself back in and say “no” to others? Are you willing to get more comfortable saying no?
5. Know Your Priorities. What’s most important to you? What are your life values? How do you want to live your life on a day-to-day basis? Look at the bigger picture of your life, and how you really want to spend your precious time and energy. Taking time to contemplate your priorities is key to having focused flow.
6. Simplify. Being overwhelmed goes hand-in-hand with having a mind full of complicated thoughts and chaos. You see life as overwhelming, because your mind and body are overwhelmed and too full. David Allen reminds us, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Are you willing to make your life simpler? Are you willing to make your mind simple, and approach the things in your life with a sense of simplicity?
7. Limit Yourself. Be willing to focus on just a few things at a time. Put limits on certain activities that aren’t important. By limiting your time and energy for certain endeavors, and not allowing yourself to get lost in the day-to-day, you can create more time and space in your life. Limit the amount of emails, FB time, talk time, any activities that consume the unproductive time in your life. The paradox is that by creating more discipline and limitation in your life, you create greater inner-freedom.
8. Develop Self-Esteem. Do you feel the need to constantly prove, perform & produce? Oftentimes, an underlying poor self-esteem is the culprit of over-doing and over-committing. Instead of understanding your own needs, you are constantly catering to the needs of others. The willingness to take time for self-care often requires self-love and self-esteem.
9. Tune Into What You Want To Feel: Sometimes we get so lost in feeling stressed and overwhelmed, we forget about what we really do want to feel and experience. Re-focusing your attention and intention can help you re-set your energy. Remind yourself constantly, “I am balanced.” “I am free to choose what I feel.” State a feeling affirmation that you do want to experience.
10. Re-Imagine a New Schedule: Imagine a new lifestyle, from scratch. If made your health and happiness a priority, what would your day look like? How would you wake up? What would you day consist of? How would you feel when you went to sleep? How would you feel through-out the day? Let your new schedule inspire you and be a natural guide for what you prefer to experience each day.
11. Focus on One Thing: Feeling overwhelmed has to do with feeling we have to do everything at once. Let yourself be present with one thing at a time starting with the most important. Breathe and allow yourself to do a few things well with full attention.
12. Meditate: Meditation helps to clear the mind and center yourself in the moment. Practicing a little bit of meditation each day can have a cumulative effect on your overall state of being. It is a great inner resource for providing calm and balance.
Being overwhelmed is not a fact – it’s a state of consciousness that limits your freedom and happiness. It requires a shift in perspective. Oftentimes when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re over-thinking everything that needs to get done. You’ve lost yourself and you’re no longer present. Instead of seeing the things outside of you having power over you, be willing to stop and re-gather yourself. Bring yourself back to the present moment. Remember that you have a choice about the way you want to feel.