5 simple suggestions how to overcome overwhelm and take control of your life — Tamara Mendelson
Overwhelmed seems to be the state of being for most of us these days. Most of us live in a modern, fast-paced, overstimulated life.
Overwhelmed by the flood of information on our smartphones, we find it hard to unplug. It’s a strong lure to have the internet open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Overwhelmed by the volume of tasks we must complete every day, both at home and at work. We are in a constant state of carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. Feeling like the Greek mythological titan, Atlas, has become common.
Overwhelmed emotionally by living in toxic relationships, bombarded by negative energy and intention. We don’t take care of ourselves until we are ill.
No small wonder that the dictionary defines overwhelmed as “being buried beneath a large mass or heavy object”. That’s how being overwhelmed feels. A heavy weight that translates into a physiological weight we are all tote around all the time.
How do we overcome the overwhelm?
Here are five simple suggestions which I suggest to my clients in order to recognize their burden, then feel lighter and freer immediately.
1. Organize and prioritize
Some of us go old school on this one, relying on a pen and paper. There is something about the weight of the page and ink that has a focusing effect on some of us. Think about going back to real pages in a diary, on a calendar, or a hardcover datebook in order to keep yourself organized. When I begin to feel like I’m juggling too many things at one time, I get out a legal pad, or my favorite notebook, and make lists.
These lists get prioritized into ‘immediate’ (as right now), ‘eventually’ (to do pretty soon), and then the ‘probably’ (not any time in the near future). When you break down your list, you’ll quickly see what needs your attention. And if something repeatedly shows up in the ‘probably’ column, it might be time to let it go.
2. Put boundaries on overstimulation
Have one place where your electronics sleep at night. And make that not near your head or right next to your bed. If any of you have children, they will watch how you deal with electronics and the internet. If you are on it all the time and hardly ever make eye contact, they will take this as a sign that it’s okay.
A news cycle repeats itself about every twenty minutes. You can see or hear it all day. Spending time immersed in negative news and sensationalism is not going to help you be focused, concentrated, or calm. If you really want to know something right away, pick a source, give yourself a time limit, then turn it off. Siri and Alexa are rabbit holes, sucking you back to your electronics and away from a calm mind.
How about a local online newspaper to get your local news? Unless there’s dangerous weather approaching, where your safety depends on constant updates, turn it off.
Music is good. An intelligent or funny podcast is great.
3. Say ‘no thank you’ when you mean ‘no’
Limit your time with toxic people or situations. Most of us want to do the right thing. We want to be there for other people, institutions, and organizations that we care about. At the same time, modern life has spread us too thin with a countless amount of those ‘immediate’ obligations.
My friend and mentor, Sam Bennett, has a great solution to this problem. When someone asks you to be part of something and your gut immediately says “no”, listen to your gut. If ‘maybe’ is really ‘maybe’, then ask to get back to them. If maybe means no then thank them for thinking about you and say it doesn’t work in your schedule. No more agonizing at the last minute when you said yes but really don’t want to go. Say no. Save your energy for the things you really want to do.
4. Take care of yourself
Eat well, sleep well, and be your biggest fan.
I have a client who carries around a big heavy stress bucket. She hates disappointing people and constantly feels overwhelmed. We worked out a saying to get her to take time enough not to volunteer for everything and be better to herself. You may call it a mantra, meditation, or a handful of other things but it goes:
“I am a capable, kind, well-educated human being and people love me. I deserve to be happy.”
This is followed by a deep breath. Sometimes she has to say this ten times to get herself to relax but eventually, she does, and it works.
When you feel yourself sliding into a stressful or overwhelming situation, breath. Think of someone you love and draw energy from that memory to help you cope.
Take care of yourself, eat well, sleep well, and be your biggest fan.
5. Stop the cycle from drama to trauma
We all know people who live in this cycle of drama. We also know the ones who like to pull the rest of us into it. Many of us have a friend or acquaintance where everything in their life is a HUGE event. Everything is a big deal. No one understands them, and no one works as hard. No one feels the same tremendous pressure, and no one has the enormous responsibility.
They suffer and are always in the middle of some crisis or catastrophe or other. They constantly ask for help, attention, or an audience. These folks, however well-meaning, are exhausting. Life is challenging enough without making every little detail a drama.
So you have a choice. They can either dial down the drama of their own personal reality show, or you can turn it off. This kind of a person is generally self-centered and isn’t a good listener. They get some kind of satisfaction having you become part of their drama.
We all experience at least one of these stresses simultaneously. Choose calm and limit your exposure. Overwhelm should motivate us to action and then be let go.
Be kind to yourself. Now over to you: What has got you feeling overwhelmed?
If you need some help, send me a WhatsApp message and let’s connect and work together towards a less overwhelmed existence.
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Originally published at https://www.tamaramendelson.com on October 21, 2019.