Whether it’s financial stress, your relationships, a big work deadline, or just the world we live in, stress is all around us. It finds its way into almost every aspect of our lives, leading many of us to begin to fall in a mental hole: becoming overwhelmed.
While we use one word to describe the feeling, being “overwhelmed” actually includes symptoms of depression, tension headaches, anger, anxiety, panic, even isolation. All together, this cluster of feelings and symptoms can lead to a poor diet, less exercise, and an overall decline in our health and wellness.
Instead of getting trapped in the same cycle you do every time you get overwhelmed, try some of these techniques the next time you start to feel like it’s all too much.
Focus On Boundaries
A commonly known phrase says that fences make for better neighbors. The same is true when we put fences up psychologically in our lives. For example, creating a boundary about what work you will and won’t bring home, or what favors you are and are not willing to do for certain people in your life.
Take some time to identify what things are contributing to your feelings of being overwhelmed and decide what boundaries you need to set up to create more harmony within yourself.
Don’t Be Afraid To Vent
You know that feeling when you just need to unleash all your stress and frustration, so you go to a trusted friend or partner and suddenly it all comes out? That’s the perfect example of venting. We all need to vent sometimes.
Even if you don’t have someone you can talk to, you can still vent to yourself. Get a journal or notebook and spend a few minutes every day venting about the things making you feel overwhelmed. Chances are, you will feel loads better after.
Let Some Things Go
As much as we would like to be able to say yes to everything and do everything, it’s just not feasible. If you find you are constantly overbooked and overwhelmed because of it, consider letting some of the things on your to do list go. You don’t necessarily have to give up on everything.
Consider using the 4D’s method: Delete; Delegate; Defer; and Do. You can simply cancel certain tasks or obligations. Others you might be able to delegate to another person. If you can put off something, go ahead and do that! What you’re left with are your “Do’s,” the things that you actually need to worry about.
Just like we do with our children, sometimes we need to put ourselves in a time out. Even a few minutes removed from a situation that is making you feel overwhelmed can help you to gain some perspective and come back to it with a fresh mind.
Be careful of falling into the trap of procrastinating too long or using this as an excuse to avoid your responsibilities. Simply set a timer and let yourself mentally and physically remove yourself from the overwhelming task.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
We all think we are great at multitasking, but science says otherwise. You will never be as productive on something when your attention is split. Instead, let yourself work on a single task for a determined amount of time. Once that amount of time is over, you can switch to the next thing and come back to the first task.
Be Okay With Imperfection
The quest for perfect could be your top reason for feeling overwhelmed. Take the example of drawing a perfect circle. You might go into the task of drawing a perfect circle feeling confident.
You’ve drawn plenty of circles in your lifetime! But once you draw the circle, you notice a flaw. Not a problem, you try again. Then you see another flaw. Soon your whole sheet of paper is filled with nearly-perfect circles and you have to get a new piece of paper and start over entirely!
The same cycle is repeated when you approach your work and life tasks with the same sense of perfectionism. At some point, you have to let yourself be a little imperfect. A nearly-perfect completed task is better than an incomplete task.
Get Out Of Your Own Way
Going along with letting yourself be a little imperfect, you have to learn how to get out of your own way. We all have a tendency to overthink things, especially when they have to do with our professional lives.
The problem with overthinking is that it can stunt you, even damn you, in once place. You could stay in that same spot for years because you are simply overthinking.
The root of this is fear: fear that you won’t be good enough, that you can’t do something, that it won’t be perfect. Instead of letting yourself wallow in that fear, overcome it by acting! Just make one little step toward your goal or the completion of your task and you will find it’s likely not as scary as you thought.
Whatever the reason for your feeling of being overwhelmed, there are ways to overcome it. Instead of letting fear and perfectionism weigh you down, take one step toward the finish line. Let yourself focus on one thing at a time, and if you need to vent then do it! Take a time out and allow yourself to reset. And never be afraid of eliminating some of the causes of your overwhelmed feeling.