How to Cope with Feeling Overwhelmed

“Some days you will feel like the ocean. Some days you will feel like you are drowning in it.” —Lora Mathis Ain’t that the truth. Life comes at you fast. You get laid off and don’t have enough money in savings, a family member gets sick, your car gets totaled. All of a sudden, you’re totally underwater. Often, though, it’s not one catastrophic event that gets you; it’s the sum total of all the small-to-medium-sized stressors in your life. Death by papercuts, if you will. Overwhelm results from having too much or not enough — too much to do, too many responsibilities, not enough money or time. Overwhelm quickly becomes a vicious cycle, as it requires energy and resources (neither of which you have in abundance) to dig yourself out. A classic sign of overwhelm is feeling like you’ve lost control over your circumstances, like things are happening to you instead of for you or because you chose them. You can’t govern all the sources of stress in your life, but you may have more control than you realize. At the very least, there are probably ways to manipulate your schedule and environment so your stress triggers aren’t so triggering. Start by asking yourself, “What would need to change in order for me to feel less overwhelmed?” If just that step feels overwhelming, don’t worry. You’re about to start taking action, and action is empowering. Coping with Overwhelm Signs of overwhelm include: Exhaustion Irritability Hopelessness Trouble focusing Catastrophic thinking Worry, anxiety Lack of motivation When you’re already overwhelmed, taking action can feel impossible. However, even when you can’t fix everything all at once, there are almost always small, manageable steps you can take to get the ball rolling.   Get Organized Disorganization feels chaotic, and chaos is overwhelming. Everyone needs a calendar and a system for organizing to-do lists. Trying to keep everything straight in your head is a recipe for disaster. There are endless options here: Google Calendar, iCal, Evernote, iPhone Memos, Anylist, old-fashioned paper and pencil, bullet journaling, and on and on. The best one is the one that works for you. Start your day by making your to-do list, organizing tasks in order of importance and due date. Before mentally checking out for the evening, look ahead to tomorrow’s calendar so you don’t miss early appointments. (Hint: Use habit stacking to make these practices second nature.) Create a shared calendar with family members so you can see everyone’s schedule in one place. Use your calendar for daily appointments as well as recurring commitments and tasks, including things like paying credit cards and changing the air filter in your house. That way, you never have to remember to do them and stress when you forget. Cull Your Commitments For most people I know, being overcommitted and over-busy is their biggest source of overwhelm. Chances are, you say yes to too many things, too. What can be outsourced? Put off? Canceled altogether? Delegate and Outsource Delegating and outsourcing tasks … Continue reading How to Cope with Feeling Overwhelmed