5 things I do to fight overwhelm
Still yet to find my blogging groove, so please bear with me as these initial blog posts are a bit sporadic!
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about overwhelm. I get serious cases of overwhelm, and it has a very negative effect on my health and productivity.
I’m sure you know what I’m talk about… when you just have so many ideas and plans and goals, but your body and/or mind can’t seem to quite keep up? And then the to-do list gets longer and you get more stressed, your health gets worse, and you start to procrastinate. What’s the point? Your health is rubbish, you knew this, you shouldn’t have taken on all these things, now you’re in a mess, maybe a long sleep will help, nope, now I feel even worse, etc etc.
I get this all the time. In all honesty, I have this right now. The Pillow Fort, and particularly The Pillow Fort Magazine, is such a huge project and I feel so overwhelmed by it.
5 things I do to fight overwhelm:
This is good practice anyway, but particularly when experiencing overwhelm. What doesn’t have to be done today/this week? What isn’t going to drive forward my happiness?
2. Talk about it
I tell someone about all the things swirling around in my head. This can be my mum, or my girlfriend, or various awesome online communities (e.g. The Puttytribe or the Amazing Biz and Life Academy). Just someone who will calm me down, and help me look at what’s going on more objectively. I can get myself into right tizzes sometimes, and it often just needs a caring, outside perspective to help put me back on the right path and get moving again.
3. Look back on what I have achieved
I don’t feel like I did much this year: I dropped out of my masters course; I was declared unable to work due to my health; I’ve not read many books; and I’ve not seen friends as much as I possibly could have. BUT, I have a secret weapon to deal with getting sad and overwhelmed by this: a Best Things Diary. Every day I write down the best thing about that day. It’s kind of like a Gratitude Journal, and it’s a tradition I’ve had on/off for over 4 years now. I highly recommend it. It’s so quick, and simple. It’s not always something I’ve done, but it could be something I’ve enjoyed or good that happened to me. It just reminds me that my life is full of good things, and it helps with overwhelm to skim back through.
4. Brain dump and make sure everything is written down (somewhere vaguely sensible)
When my brain gets full (which it’s very prone to doing), I write it all down. Personally, I draw mind maps, but any kind of writing/typing should work. I just write and write until I think I’ve got everything that’s been swirling. It’s the security of knowing that I don’t need to hold it in my brain any more, as it’s safely on paper. Ever going back to re-read what I wrote is another matter, but I find this is one of the most effective ways for me to deal with overwhelm.
5. Get honest with myself
This is my least favourite tactic, but sometimes it’s necessary. Am I ill because I’m overwhelmed or am I overwhelmed because I’m ill? It’s easy to just assume it’s the latter and feel helpless, but sometimes it’s definitely the former. Trying to break out that mindset and vicious cycle can be really hard. I try and do just one thing off my to-do list on bad days, especially if I’m generally overwhelmed at the time. Just one thing is moving me forwards and then I won’t feel guilty about having spent a whole day doing absolutely nothing. And for the record, putting on clothes or showering totally counts as a thing, I’m not a slave driver with myself!
What do you do when the overwhelm strikes?