How to deal with Overwhelm
We all have times — hours, days, weeks, months and even years — when we feel stressed out and overwhelmed with all the work we have yet to do. It’s an inescapable feeling. It’s distracting, and it can make us irritable.
Our thoughts are riddled with anxiousness, and our stress-ridden thoughts and emotions nag us throughout the day. We have so many things to do, and before we can even check something off the list, someone comes to us with another request.
The pressure is intense and overwhelming — even if a good chunk of it is self-inflicted.
But here’s what you need to know: You cannot do it all. You have to learn to say no and to let some things go. You’re not the best, most complete version of you when your plate is overfull.
So, unless you want your physical and mental health to hit rock bottom…unless you want to sacrifice the most important relationships in your life…unless you want your stress to continue to skyrocket…you must start doing three key things…
- If you could wipe the slate completely clean, what would you put back on your plate? Take a step back and take an honest look what you have on your plate. Evaluate what’s there and why. What would you do if your schedule was empty? What would you choose to put on your plate if you could wipe it clean?
Once you figure that out, you understand your values and priorities. In other words, you know what belongs on your plate. Now, when invitations, activities, requests, tasks, etc., pop up, you can ask, “Is this one of the things that I would choose to put on my plate?”
- Learn to say “NO” when you don’t want something new on your plate… Being a “Yes Man or yes woman” certainly has a time and a place, but when you say yes to everything, you put yourself on the fast track to being miserable. Learn to set boundaries and stop saying yes when you want to say no. If you always say yes, people will take advantage of you.
We know it’s hard to say no. But you must. The alternative is that you’re going to do a half-hearted job begrudgingly, be stressed beyond belief and feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of failure and frustration.
The thing that keeps most of us in the debilitating cycle of feeling overwhelmed is the fantasy that we can be everything to everyone, be everywhere all at once, and be a hero on all fronts. You’re either going to do a few things well or do everything poorly.
- Focus on no more than three core things every day… In an ideal world, you’d only have to focus and complete one thing well for an extended period of time. (Yes, multitasking is a myth, at least when it comes to cognitively demanding tasks.) We understand that’s not the way life works, though. The good news is that most people can do two or three things well every day.
Wake up every morning and figure out what the most important two or three things are for the day and cut out the rest. Better yet, figure out what your top priorities are the night before. Attack your priorities ruthlessly. And when something else comes up (because it will), say no. Say that you want to help but your plate is full. You wouldn’t be able to serve as well as your standards demand.
Do this and you will notice a difference. Life isn’t really that complicated; we are.
To the BEST You,