7 Things You Can Do If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed because there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in?
We have all felt that sense of panic when we think we are losing control over the insurmountable tasks that keep piling up. We begin to feel as though we are unable to cope with the circumstances at hand and soon our ability to think clearly is replaced with the inability to take any action at all.
It’s no surprise living in a world with constant distractions. Many of my clients say that time gets away from them because they become distracted by social media, while others identify with taking on more to keep up with everyone else. Whatever the reason, here are 7 things you can do when your to-do list is causing you to feel overwhelmed.
- Recognise the feeling and take a break.
Acknowledge the moment you start to feel overwhelmed and change your environment. Staying in the same place is only going to make you feel more out of control. Remove yourself from the situation by walking away from your desk or take yourself off to another room, where you have space to think more clearly.
- Focus on breathing.
When we become anxious, we tend to feel out of breath. Breathing slowly and mindfully triggers a relaxation response in the body. Focusing on your breath, breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth. I like to say the word, ‘relax’ on the exhale. Do this for a couple of minutes or longer, if you have time.
- Go for a walk.
Walking is good for controlling your heart rate and brisk walking releasing the endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. Studies have found taking a walk in nature relaxes the mind by decreasing activity in the prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain that is active in rumination that leads to the endless worrying.
Writing your thoughts down on paper can provide greater clarity to your feelings of overwhelm. It’s a powerful tool for organising your thoughts and a healthy outlet to express yourself when under pressure. Write continuously without editing, it doesn’t need to be neat or perfect. Once finished, identify any negative or sabotaging self-talk? Quieten the self-talk and engage in acts of self-compassion.
Sometimes there are tasks on our lists that could be completed by others. Maybe you have been doing the task because you like to do it, or you don’t trust someone else doing it, or you did it the first time, and now it has become a habit. Review your tasks and ask yourself: Can this be handed over to someone else?
- Let go of non-essentials.
Often we continue to do something out of habit. Looking through your list, ask yourself: Is this task essential to my day running smoothly or does this task really need to be done? When we already have so much to do, it’s a good idea to think about all those little time wasters that distract us or drain us of energy. Are there things on the list that you can let go of?
- Say No.
Especially to last-minute requests that are going to put you behind. Setting boundaries for yourself, in advance, let you and others know what you are prepared to take on. Before saying ‘yes’ to yet another request, which is, going to take up your time, think about whether you can fit this into your routine comfortably. Setting reasonable boundaries for oneself works wonders for not taking on more than you can reasonably do.
Image: Kyle Broad: Unsplash