In the first part of this article, you learned four strategies to help you cope with and move past feeling overwhelmed. 1. Breathe, 2. Ask for Help, 3. Take care of Basic Needs, 4. Ask yourself: What is the next step?
5. START SMALL Often that next step from number 4 will be a baby step. A huge project will seem overwhelming if we look at the entire thing at once. Breaking it down into smaller, do-able tasks is much more empowering. I like the phrase, “some is better than none”! If I can just work for 5 minutes on a task, it builds confidence, momentum and adds up! 15 minutes of exercise is better than none, one pile of paperwork taken care of is better than none…you get idea! No more “all or nothing” thinking that often leads to perfectionistic paralysis! How could you break a project down into smaller tasks?
6. BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS and “reframe” as needed. When remodeling recently, walking through my house and seeing the playroom piled high with random things from the kitchen left me feeling tired and overwhelmed just looking at it! However, our reactions are based in our thoughts, and we can change our thoughts. With negative thoughts, we can feel powerless, get depressed and won’t take any action. Just knowing we always have a choice empowers us! Sometimes the choice is just to “reframe” our thought about the situation. Instead of “Everything is such a mess and I can’t stand it!” Becomes,”I’m learning to be OK with this transition, because it will all be beautiful in the end!” Or, “I will find one small area to improve, or something else I can change”. What thoughts contribute to your feeling overwhelmed? How could you reframe them?
7. RECOGNIZE WHAT ENERGIZES YOU and do it! I love to be out in nature, taking fitness classes, and reading with my kids. No matter how busy I am, a hike in the woods with my dog always refreshes me and makes me more productive and focused for the rest of the day. I love my work with clients and am energized by the connections and transformations that happen. I make time for the things that revive me and try to cut out the things that drain my energy. The parts of my business that I don’t enjoy, (eg billing) I refer to step 2 and ask for help and/or delegate! Notice how you are energized and make a plan to fit it into your schedule!
8. GIVE YOUR TO-DO LIST A MAKEOVER! If you do not keep a list at all, that may be contributing to feelings of overwhelm and fear that you’re forgetting things. If you have a daily list that is impossibly long, you are adding to your stress and overwhelm every day! You may want to keep a master list of everything you want to accomplish, but your daily list should be realistic. Consider if some things can be ditched (not really necessary) or delegated (who else can do it?) or which would feel great to get done? I encourage clients to put a star next to two things, that if done, will lead to feeling relieved and great about the day! Be sure to notice what you have done and give yourself credit, rather than beating yourself up for what is not yet finished. There will always be more tasks, but sometimes it is helpful to acknowledge what we’ve accomplished. When we complete important tasks (or even face tasks we have been avoiding), we boost our self-efficacy – our belief that we have the power to make changes – and that is one of the best antidotes to feeling overwhelmed.
I hope you feel encouraged and empowered with these strategies and action steps! I invite you to give yourself permission to ask for help, take care of basic needs, let go of some things on your list, or whatever small steps you know will make a huge difference with moving you beyond overwhelm. Feel free to contact me if you’d like support and would like more strategies for finding more time, more calm, and more joy in your day!