Some days are so overwhelming! Even that exclamation point has me feeling anxious and, well, overwhelmed. Certain times in our lives can just seem like too much. Too much to do, too much to get done, too much mess, too much stuff, too much clutter, too much noise, too much outside pressure, just too much.
This is how I conquer overwhelm in my own life.
I will set a timer and clean up my environment for about 15 minutes. Clear away the clutter. If the clutter is not there, I will scrub, mop, and dust. It is proven that clutter and a disorganized environment causes stress levels to rise in both men and women, although more so for women, and women are more in-tune to the feeling that the stress is caused by chaos in the environment.
I get a list and I physically sit down and write all of the things that I am thankful for, I take note of all of the joyful moments in my day. The red geraniums on the drive to work, the way the sunset lit up the sky as I turned the corner walking the dog, the she greets me as I walk in the door, all of the things that I have but take for granted, all of the things I have already accomplished and now behind me, crossed off of the list of things to do. I give thanks. I send thank you messages to others – thanks for doing the dishes, thanks for taking me to dinner last night, thanks for always being there when I need a friend. If the occasion calls for it, I will a physical, hand written note, if not a text will do.
I lay out all of the things that must be done, then I determine what must be done first based on deadlines or timelines. If I have a whole page of to-do’s – I pick out what must be done first chronologically and do the top 3. Only 3. Those go on a separate list. I try to clear my mind of all the rest and put all of my energy into those top 3. I do them as if they are the only 3 things that need to be done. I cross them off with a big, black squeaky sharpie.
Again, with the 15 minute timer. I rest for 15 minutes. In this 15 minutes I rest as if there is nothing else to be done. Sometimes I will make a list of what I will do for my rest. Daydream in the sunshine, read a book, have a cup of tea, doodle, a small artsy project that doesn’t require a mess, journal. What is not restful? Scrolling through social media. Even watching Netflix can feel more of a drain on my energy than just connecting with my self, being alone in my thoughts, taking a break.
Back to the to-do list with the 3 next most important things, than back to rest once those items are finished.
When overwhelm strikes, social media and screens are not your friends. The best, most restful weekend I have had lately include setting my phone in a drawer and not reaching for my phone for a dopamine hit whenever I have a free moment. If you love the socials, you can still set aside time to use your phone, but set a timer, and a list of things you really want to check while you’re on there, and then put it away again. Somewhere just odd enough that you don’t automatically reach for it in your spare time.
I spend any free time I have with myself or with those who give me energy. I really pay attention to how I feel around others. Certain people drain your energy – negative, toxic, passive aggressive, and overly narcissistic people will have to wait. Unfortunately, these people can be family, where you may not want to completely eliminate the relationship, but you can est a boundary for the time you will spend with them – and it shouldn’t be when you are struggling to hold yourself together. Instead, spend time with people who lift you up. It’s worth reaching out to friends for a long lunch, a night out, a long phone call, a quick text message. Try this: reach out and tell people what you love about them. See how much better it makes you feel to make someone’s day when you are in overwhelm.
I try to focus on only what needs to be done for the moment, and put the rest aside for another time. If I am really stressed about a particular deadline, I’ll put everything into terms of doing really well on that one accomplishment, and use that date as my horizon line. Anything that comes after the horizon gets put on the back burner.
Now I want to hear from you. What are your best overwhelm tips? What do you do to conquer overwhelm?