5 Ways to Stop the Cycle of OverwhelmSep 29, 2023
Overwhelm is an uninvited guest that always finds its way into my life, whether I am juggling the demands of my job, tending to my family's needs, or grappling with the weight of personal challenges. You probably know the feeling, don't you? The feeling of struggling to stay afloat in an unrelenting sea of responsibilities and expectations. To put it mildly, it is far from a leisurely walk in the park.
As a working woman, I know the usual daily scenario: work deadlines breathing down your neck, household chores stacking up, bills piling on your desk, and your cherished personal dreams buried beneath the rubble of everyday life. It is a turbulent whirlwind of chaos and relentless pressure that can make even the most resilient woman feel slowly sinking.
But let me share a little secret – I didn't let overwhelm defeat me. I made a conscious decision to fight back, to discover an escape route from this relentless cycle. It was not a straightforward journey, and it certainly did not come with quick fixes. It was a path filled with trials and errors, strewn with moments of frustration and self-discovery. As I moved forward, I stumbled upon some strategies that gradually enabled me to regain control and find peace amid all the chaos around me.
Why Do We Feel Overwhelmed?
Feeling overwhelmed is a universal human experience that can manifest in various aspects of life, and it is something I have certainly grappled with. One key factor contributing to overwhelm is the increasingly fast-paced nature of modern life. We live in a society where we are bombarded with information, expectations, and responsibilities from every angle. The constant influx of emails, notifications, and social media updates can create a sense of urgency and pressure that can be incredibly taxing on our mental and emotional well-being. It is as if we are constantly trying to keep up with an ever-accelerating treadmill, and this perpetual chase can easily lead to overwhelm.
Another significant contributor to this is we are constantly striving for perfection. Many of us set impossibly high standards for ourselves, whether it is in our careers, relationships, or personal achievements. I hate to admit it, but I am guilty of this one. We want to excel in every aspect of our lives, but this pursuit of perfection can be exhausting. It is a personal struggle I have faced, as I often find myself trying to meet unrealistic expectations. This relentless pursuit not only creates stress but also fosters a sense of inadequacy when we inevitably fall short of our self-imposed ideals. It is important to recognize that perfection is an unattainable goal, and it's okay to make mistakes and have shortcomings. I mean we are just human, and we can never be perfect.
Lastly, the lack of effective stress management strategies can exacerbate feelings of being overwhelmed. In my own experience, I have found that neglecting self-care and failing to establish healthy boundaries can make it difficult to manage the daily demands of life. When we prioritize work or the needs of others over our well-being, it is easy to become overwhelmed. This can lead to increased stress levels and a decreased ability to cope with challenges. Furthermore, when we constantly put ourselves last, we may start to feel resentful and exhausted, further adding to our feelings of overwhelm.
Before delving into the tips I'm about to share on how to combat the overwhelming feeling, it's crucial to start by checking in with yourself. Life can get so fast-paced and demanding that we often forget to pause and assess our own well-being. This is where my FREE destress toolkit can be an invaluable resource. Incorporating this toolkit into your routine offers you a quick and effective way to destress. It is a practical resource that can help you navigate those challenging moments, allowing you to achieve a state of calm, and regain perspective.
5 Ways to Break the Cycle
Feeling overwhelmed can be paralyzing, but there are effective strategies to break free and regain a sense of balance and control. I hope these five approaches can be helpful for you:
1. Embrace the Power of Saying No
The first lesson I learned in my battle against overwhelm was that I couldn't do it all. I had this tendency to say "yes" to every request, whether it was at work, within my social circle, or even within my family. I wanted to be the superhero who could handle everything effortlessly, but reality had other plans.
It was not until I found myself exhausted, irritable, and stretched thin that I realized the importance of saying "no." At first, it felt uncomfortable, even selfish, to decline requests for help or commitments. But as I began to set boundaries, I noticed a remarkable shift. I had more time for the things that truly mattered to me, and I could give those tasks my full attention and energy.
Saying "no" isn't a rejection of others; it is a powerful affirmation of your priorities and well-being. It is about understanding your limitations and respecting them. By embracing the power of "no," I started to regain control over my life and reduce the constant overwhelm.
Mastering the art of declining requests gracefully starts with a solid understanding of your personal boundaries. If you are seeking guidance on how to establish and maintain firm boundaries for yourself, my book, Brave Boundaries, is a valuable resource that can provide you with the insights and tools you need.
2. Prioritize and Organize Tasks
Once I began saying "no" to some things, I realized I needed to get better at managing what remained on my plate. It was time to tackle the clutter of my to-do list and make sense of it all. I turned to prioritization and organization as my allies in this battle.
To prioritize effectively, I adopted a simple but powerful method: the Eisenhower Matrix. This matrix categorizes tasks into four quadrants based on their urgency and importance. I began to assign each task to its respective quadrant:
● Urgent and Important:
These tasks require immediate attention, like a work deadline or a family emergency.
● Not Urgent but Important:
These tasks are valuable but not time-sensitive, such as personal development, self-care, and long-term projects.
● Urgent but Not Important:
These tasks are often distractions and should be minimized to reduce stress.
● Not Urgent and Not Important:
These tasks are time-wasters and should be eliminated whenever possible.
Through this, I could focus on the most critical tasks first and gradually work my way through the rest. This approach brought a sense of clarity and purpose to my daily routine, making it easier to navigate the overwhelming sea of responsibilities.
3. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Care
One of the most important lessons I have learned in my journey to conquer overwhelm is the necessity of self-care. I used to think that taking time for myself was a luxury I couldn't afford. I believed that I had to keep pushing myself relentlessly to meet the demands of life. But that mindset only exacerbated my feelings of being overwhelmed. Not until I hit a breaking point of burnout that I realized I needed to prioritize self-care. I started by incorporating mindfulness practices into my daily routine. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and even short walks in nature became my lifelines. These moments of mindfulness allowed me to pause, reset, and find a sense of calm amid the chaos.
But I did not stop there. I made self-care a non-negotiable part of my schedule. Whether it meant losing myself in the pages of a good book, luxuriating in a long, soothing bath, or immersing myself in a cherished hobby, I gave myself permission to recharge and reconnect with my inner self. The remarkable outcome of prioritizing self-care was not only a noticeable reduction in overwhelm but also a newfound ability to confront life's challenges with a clearer, more resilient mindset. It is a lesson I continue to carry with me on my journey, a reminder that self-care is not self-indulgent; it is self-preservation.
When life gets a bit overwhelming, there are moments when all we truly need is some dedicated self-care time. With my Time Management course, you'll acquire valuable insights and practical techniques to regain control of your task list and make the most of your precious hours. This course will provide you with the tools to deliberately create space for self-care, guaranteeing that your well-being remains a priority amidst the hectic pace of daily life.
4. Delegate and Seek Support
As someone who used to pride myself on being self-reliant, the idea of asking for help or delegating tasks was a tough pill to swallow. I felt like I should be able to handle everything on my own, believing that it was a sign of strength and independence. However, I soon realized that this mindset was holding me back from finding relief from being overwhelmed.
It took a moment of introspection to understand that this insistence on self-sufficiency was actually contributing to my feelings of being overwhelmed. I was stretched thin, trying to be a master of all trades, and it was taking a toll on my mental and emotional well-being. It was a humbling realization that I didn't have all the answers, nor did I possess an endless reservoir of energy.
So, I decided to change my approach. I started by identifying tasks that others could help me with, both at work and in my personal life. At work, I began to delegate tasks to colleagues who were more skilled or better suited to handle them. This not only lightened my workload but also allowed me to focus on what I was truly good at. At home, I leaned on my family and friends for support, whether it was sharing household responsibilities or simply talking through my challenges.
Delegating and seeking support not only lightened my load but also strengthened my connections with others. It reminded me that I did not have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and that there were people who genuinely cared about my well-being. It was a liberating experience, and it taught me that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a demonstration of wisdom and a pathway to lessen the burden of overwhelm.
If you're on the lookout for a community that not only understands but empathizes with the challenges you face, join me and the incredible group of supportive women at The Table. At The Table, we've created a haven where women come together to connect on a deep and personal level. It is a place where you'll find kindred spirits who have walked similar paths and have experienced their fair share of struggles. So, if you are yearning for a community of supportive women who truly understand your struggles, I encourage you to take a seat at The Table.
5. Celebrate Small Wins and Practice Gratitude
In the midst of overwhelm, it is easy to focus on all the things that are going wrong and the tasks that remain undone. This negative mindset only perpetuates the cycle of stress and anxiety. To break free, I knew I had to shift my perspective and find joy in the little victories.
I started celebrating small wins, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Completing a project, handling a difficult conversation, or even just making it through a hectic day became reasons to pat myself on the back. This celebration of small wins injected positivity into my life and helped me build momentum.
Gratitude also played a significant role in my journey. Practicing gratitude shifted my focus from what I lacked to what I had, creating a profound sense of contentment. By acknowledging and appreciating the small blessings in my life, such as a warm cup of coffee in the morning or a loving friend who always listens, I realized that I already had so much to be grateful for. This newfound sense of contentment allowed me to let go of the constant desire for more and instead embrace the present moment with gratitude and joy.
Find Your Way Out
Overcoming overwhelm is an ongoing journey, and I still have my moments of feeling swamped. It is essential to acknowledge that it is perfectly normal to encounter bouts of overwhelm, even after implementing these strategies. Life has its way of throwing unexpected challenges that can momentarily disrupt our sense of balance. However, with these simple yet powerful strategies, I know you will regain control and find balance time and time again.
If you are looking to take these strategies to the next level and make lasting, impactful changes in your life, I extend a special invitation to join RISE: Mastermind. While these strategies are undoubtedly valuable on their own, my newest course will provide the structure, support, and accountability needed to ensure these strategies become a permanent part of your life.
By joining RISE: Mastermind, you are making a deliberate choice to invest in your personal growth and well-being. Together, we'll work to ensure that these strategies become a permanent and transformative part of your life journey.
Overcoming overwhelm is not about perfection, instead, it is about progress, and each day presents an opportunity to move closer to that elusive state of balance.
So, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, relax, there is always a way out.
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