Feeling Overwhelmed?


This past weekend, I attended a 1:1 coaching intensive with my business and mindset coach. It was a deeply meaningful, reflective and transformative 3.5 days. I came home with SO many ideas, step by step plans and utter excitement for the future. But I also felt REALLY mentally exhausted (we worked hard).

It’s like, you just SO want to keep going, but your mind and body are like, calm the F down. You need to relax. It’s an awesome feeling, but also challenging. I’ve been doing my best to pace myself, but let’s face it, I’m human, a high achiever (not to mention anxiety-prone), and I’m really excited!! Let’s just say it's causing me some overwhelm and action paralysis (aka sitting at my desk compulsively checking Instagram and Facebook).

I think we’re all familiar with overwhelm… maybe it's needing to do things we don’t want to do, or even things we enjoy, but we just feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get it all done! Overwhelm is unproductive, it’s anxiety, it’s trapping you, and no matter what the source, we end up feeling stuck. 

What to do when experiencing overwhelm? Here’s what I did this week to calm the anxiety and channel the energy into getting stuff done!

Step 1: Sit up straight and breathe - we naturally hunch over when we’re anxious and that causes us to take shallow breaths. Shallow breaths can signal fear to your body, making the anxiety worse. So pick up that head, spine straight to the back of the chair and take big, deep, slow breaths that you can feel in your belly. In through the nose, out through the mouth. You should be able to take the overwhelm down a notch and get one step closer to taking action.

Step 2: Empty the noggin. Some people are verbal, some visual. If you’re verbal, call a supportive friend or family member and explain what’s overwhelming you. The feeling of support and most likely a reminder that you always get everything done will help channel the energy into action. If you’re visual, write down a general list of tasks that you need to complete (don’t do subtasks yet, this will just overwhelm you more.)   

Step 3: Breathe (again) and prioritize Breathe and remind yourself that you always do get everything done (and if you don’t then step 5 is EXTRA important for you). Select the most time sensitive or important task you want to accomplish (this will be different for everyone, but make sure to not avoid the task that could be causing the most overwhelm). I tend to tell myself I’m hungry, I need to clean the house, or redo my hair when my overwhelm is really related to making sure my blog post gets written and sent out this week. In other words, I end up avoiding and the overwhelm just gets worse. 

Step 4: Check in with your mind and body. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Achy? When’s the last time you were outside? Are you exhausted? Before you get started, make sure your basic needs are met. That power nap or nourishing lunch can automatically shift your mindset from paralysis to action.

Step 5: Promise - you will say NO. A client and I recently made a pact to say no to taking on more responsibilities for the remainder of calendar year 2017. She already has more than enough on her plate to get excited about and she wants to be intentional about how she shows up to each of her commitments (not to mention learn and grow from her experiences). If we can’t say no, then we end up perpetually overwhelmed; we miss out on celebrating the journey and its accomplishments, which can lead to burn out, insomnia, and other nasty things we just don’t want. 

Step 6: Take action. Let’s get started on that most important task. The one that has felt scary or huge. Break it down into doable chunks. For me, I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time, and I’ve officially committed to making it happen (holy crappers)! So I’ve started to plan, outline, and build my vision. And then I can write each chapter, one at a time. I’m sure I will get overwhelmed again, but I have support and faith that I will complete it. {I’ve also bought a bunch of post-it notes, to make the process more visual, colorful and fun!}

Step 7: Recognize your progress. Have a snack, take a walk outside, watch a Netflix episode, play with the dog. Do something nice for yourself to reinforce your hard work! Recognize how much you enjoy that feeling of accomplishment, and it will be easier to continue checking things off your list. 

At the end of the day, overwhelm stems from that four letter word, FEAR. Is it the fear of not getting the thing done, it not being perfect, forgetting an important detail, disappointing someone, or worrying you don’t have what it takes to complete it? 

I’m now also reminding myself that I know deep down, that whenever something is important to me, I make it happen. The journey may be long and full of ups and downs, but the more we can have faith in ourselves and embrace the process, the more enjoyable life will be (not to mention the quality of your output:)). And remember, at the end of the day, we’re all human.

Feeling overwhelmed and want to chat? Reach out to schedule a clarity session with me!

Liz TrainesComment