You may be overwhelmed right now.
Maybe there’s too much going on at work for you to handle and you think you might go insane. Maybe you have screaming kids at home with an endless to-do list mocking you because you know it’s not going to get done. Maybe you’re in school and there’s a really tough exam coming up that could determine your future but you’re not even sure that you want to stay in this major?
Here’s the thing. If you are overwhelmed you need to deal with it now. Ignoring the problem and letting all of this fester underneath will only create more problems and lead to more overwhelm later.
There are two types of results you want.
Instant Results: Do these techniques right now (or at least as many as you can) to get quick “feel better” results. At your desk, in bed, wherever. Stop and do this. Seriously. Do you not want to feel better?
Long-term Results: Once you feel temporarily relieved from the instant results, start implementing these into your life to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed as much or too often.
In this post we’ll focus on getting instant results
1. Brain Download
Have you ever felt so much better after telling a friend all your problems? Our brains get so full of information that just like our bodies, we need to get rid of the waste on a regular basis.
I suggest taking a pen and paper and start writing every thought that crosses your mind. To-do list items, worries, appointments, tasks, events, anything and everything (don’t worry, you’re the only person seeing this).
Once you get everything out (it could take a while), start categorizing it into To-Do, Think About Later, Dumb, Not My Problem, and any other category you want to add.
Turn your To-Do category into a list and do the first few things right now. You’ll feel better. Getting everything out of your head helps you to externally visualize your thoughts and problems. Not only does it make your brain less cluttered, it helps you see your problems from a fresh perspective.
Once you’ve downloaded your brain, it’s time to reflect and breathe. Remember, I’m trying to help you get some instant relief. If you’re not sitting, do it now, and sit tall. Sit like you’re in charge of your situation even if it doesn’t feel like it. Your life is about to change and it starts here.
Now put your hands where they lay comfortably and close your eyes (read the instructions first). Take one slow breath while you count to 4 and then release it quickly. Sit taller. Already your brain is starting to recover and your heartbeat is starting to slow down.
Breath in slowly again. Breathe out. Sit even taller. Are you letting other people run your life? Not anymore. Take one more deep breath and exhale all the fears, worries, and negative thoughts and feelings. Open your eyes and smile.
This next part is very important. Think of something small that you normally take for granted. Now that your mind is starting to clear and you’re able to focus and regain perspective, start looking at all the small positive things in your life. Instead of allowing the overwhelming cascade of thoughts and emotions to invade your mind, you’re now training yourself to focus on the good around you.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for? Something you could be without right now…but you’re not. The comfortable chair you’re in right now? A job? The sun shining outside? The carpet beneath your feet? Think of something small. Then speak out loud your gratefulness. “I am really grateful for….”
Even better, tell it to someone. Even better, write it down. Find 2 or 3 more things to be grateful for. If you can’t find big important things, then just stick with small things like a smile on someone’s face, or maybe the great hair day you’re having.
4. Change your scenery
Once you’ve listed a few things you’re grateful for, get up and go somewhere else. If you’ve been stuck behind a computer screen for a while, go get some fresh air and stare at some greenery (just 40 seconds will help you focus and be more productive). If you’re always surrounded by people and busyness, go find a quiet spot to read a book or just breathe for a few minutes.
Get some fresh perspective and maybe some fresh air. You might be surprised how much better you feel after a quick walk around the block or even up and down some stairs. Change up the pattern of what your eyes and brain are used to. Go find some new inspiration from a new place you’ve never been.
Then get back to work.
5. Decrease visual & auditory stimulation
Sometimes all you need to do to decrease feeling overwhelmed is to decrease your sensory input, or basically the sights and noise around you. Too much stimulation can lead to information overload in your brain and cause it to want to shut down.
Are there too many people around you? Leave right now and go find a quiet spot to relax for a little bit. Have you been listening to a lot of music or watching TV? Turn off all electronics and go read a book. Better yet, go for a walk, in nature preferably. This will help your mind come up for air and refocus.
6. Ask or help/Delegate
Sometimes you just can’t avoid all the work you have to do. But you can ask for help. This is often very hard for many of us. But it’s a very valuable skill that can save you tons of time and energy not to mention sanity.
Not everybody can do everything, so be observant and look for the right person for each task you plan to delegate or ask for help on. Be kind but be careful about offering something in return; you don’t want to add more to your to-do list. Then, go up to them and politely ask them if they would be willing to assist you with something. Don’t be beggy, or manipulative. State your problem and why you think they would be a good fit for your problem based on the strengths they have. They’ll probably be more willing to help if you compliment them like this especially because it’s true.
Even if you only do a few of these things, you should see a dramatic change in your mood and outlook. Do yourself and those around you a favor by taking care of yourself.
But this isn’t the end. These techniques will only help you temporarily. You now must set up a life that keeps you from hardly ever feeling overwhelmed. It’s hard to avoid feeling overwhelmed completely, but there are things you can do to dramatically reduce it in the future. Watch for a future post on long-term results.
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