What To Do About Being "So Overwhelmed"
Updated: Aug 26
I’ve uttered these words on many occasions. Sometimes it’s because I’m in the “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” mode. This happens when I’ve planned some projects and mapped out the steps to complete them and along comes a bright shiny idea or offer.
And I say, “Yes”.
Many of you know that I have what some people call a slash career. You could describe me as a professor/entrepreneur/author/yoga teacher/speaker. But I’d have to add daughter/little sister/big sister/niece/Qigong student/mentor/ caregiver/partner/friend and a few other roles to this list.
Yes, I have numerous roles. And I love and enjoy all of them. Each has its own set of duties, responsibilities and pleasures.
They all contribute to the “whole me”. They all awaken different parts of me. They all work for me because I connect them to my deepest “why”. My purpose. My reason for being. The light in my heart and soul that makes me want to get up and go everyday.
However, it’s easy to see how the sheer volume of things to take care of could overwhelm me. Along comes the bright, shiny opportunity and the scales could tip even lower in an unwanted direction. Blinded by the light and unable to see my “why”, you’ll soon hear me say, “I’m so overwhelmed”.
But this isn’t the only road that gets me here. Sometimes, unexpected things happen, like a close relative becomes ill and suddenly I need to travel. Perhaps, there’s a major plumbing or car problem that needs repair. These things are unpredictable but rise quickly to the top of my priority list.
But when I add them to the list, I think, “Nope. That’s not possible. Nope. Something isn’t going to get done on time. I can’t do all of this”. The feeling of being overwhelmed comes when I try to push and do it all any way.
What roads lead you to overwhelm?
Do you fill up all the white space in your calendar?
Do you say, “Yes” when you know you really need to say, “No”?
Are you attracted to bright shiny opportunities?
Are you too independent for your own good so you don’t ask for help when you need it?
Do you skip getting adequate sleep and nutrition so you don’t have enough energy or focus to get things done?
Are you ignoring your thoughts and emotions as you go through your day?
Do you ignore directions from your inner compass as you consider what needs your attention?
No matter what road you take, it feels about the same when you get to the land of the overwhelmed. You’re some combination of anxious, doubtful, insecure, scattered and/or confused. Surprisingly, you may notice that you’re procrastinating. Or you may shift into push-push mode and skip sleeping while eating from vending machines or your favorite coffee spot.
You may also notice that your body is responding to this feeling. You wake up anxious with an “oh no”, sinking feeling in your stomach. Your shoulders are tight. Your lower back is bothering you. And you may feel a little shaky.
Why? You’ve exhausted your resources. And you haven’t taken time to recharge yourself. You don’t have enough energy to negotiate the emotional response to your demands.
An intense emotional state can take us to our edge and our bodies will let us know it. Your body never lies. Your mind might try to trick you into thinking “it’s okay” but your body is 100% honest all the time.
So how do we dial it down, find our focus and get back on track? Here are 4 tips to get you on the road to recovery.
Tune in to your body’s signals
It’s speaking truth to power. Slow down and breathe. Notice where overwhelm lives in your body. Give your body some tender love and care. Think about how you want your body to feel as you go through your day. Do you want to feel relaxed, strong, or vital? Once you’ve chosen a word, stop and check in with your body throughout the day. If you’re not in your relaxed, strong or vital zone, take an action that will help you create it. The easiest thing to do is to remember what it feels like for you. Allow your body to experience relaxed, vital or strong. What are the bodily sensations connected to these states? Soon enough, you’ll find it easier to get into your zone. You’ll build a repertoire of strategies to get you there.
Listen to your thoughts
Our thoughts guide our feelings and behavior. What are you saying to yourself? Have you slipped into impostor syndrome? Remember every experience has something to teach us. My Mama calls them blessings in disguise. So let’s remove the gift-wrapping and open our presents. Record your internal dialogue. Identify the thoughts that are maintaining your emotional state. What are you saying to yourself? How will it help you grow? Invoke thoughts that help you find your way to balance. For example, if you’re giving yourself a beating saying, “you’re not capable” of accomplishing your goals, then you need a new perspective. Let thoughts of self-doubt lead you to a greater awareness of your strengths. Remember the tools you’ve used to get through difficulty and resolve challenges.
Design a plan that helps you make better use of your resources
Do a brain dump. Write down all the things that have to get done. Prioritize them. Then, identify those that you can reasonably get done each day. I like to use the one big thing, two little things rule for getting things done each day. Decide what you can release. Some things can wait. You don’t need to take them on now.
Connect to people and purpose
Ask for help. There’s someone in your network who’s there for you. Call them. Talk to them. Get their support. If getting help would cost and you don’t have the funds, then those activities can be postponed. Wait until you receive the resources you need to complete them. Align your activities with your purpose. Everything we do serves our greater good and the greater good we want to offer the world. If you can’t connect your activities to you “why”, it’s time to let them go. Once you can connect them to your “why”, you have unlimited rocket fuel to power your best self and your best work.
If you need support, contact Dr. Sandra. Shee can help you uncover your “why” and create a personalized plan to recover from overwhelm and increase your productivity and fulfillment.
Click here for our free guide, “Exhausted to Energized ~ 6 Simple Strategies for BIG Relief”. Get 6 practical strategies. Take steps that easily fit into your day and reclaim your energy.
Get more resources with our book, Life in 4-Part Harmony ~ Get Everything in Your Life to Work with Everything Else in Your Life. Use it to stay connected to your power source, manage challenges, enhance your well-being, and win at being you every day.
© Sandra Y. Lewis