Overwhelm! 3 Traps to Avoid

We all get overwhelmed sometimes – it’s a sneaky little beast that takes us from slightly stressed to frozen with deer-in-headlights QUICK. So how can we deal with overwhelm? Here’s three traps to avoid that keep me from getting into this cycle of stress-freeze-give up.

  1. CALENDAR “BUFFER” TIME. Do you ever get the feeling you are “steppin’ and fetchin’”? One client describes it as being on a hamster wheel. Stop and take a look at your calendar. Do you have your appointments scheduled one after another? Meeting from 4-5 with gym at 5:15? Does that really work for you? If it’s a 10 minute drive to the gym, and the meeting runs a little late you’ll be pushing it to get to the gym. Be reasonable – even GENEROUS – with the time you schedule to fully complete, wrap up, and transition to your next scheduled activity.
  2. ALIGN TIME & VALUES. Many times our lives get filled with immediate needs and requests and before we know it, we feel worn out and ragged and completely out of time – leaving little to no energy for the people and activities that nourish us. This happened to me one time while I was working on a long term project that I was giving a lot of time and attention to. I was tired and cranky and losing my creativity. Productivity was down and I was headed to overwhelm. My coach then wisely asked me, “Amy – what do you value?” I answered and then he hit me with this nugget – “Does your calendar reflect your values?” We did the work to rearrange my calendar and create time for work balanced with time to do things that I valued like family and friend connectivity, prepping good meals, working out, and play time!
  3. STAY WHERE YOUR FEET ARE. When time is scarce and worry is abundant, overwhelm is looming. We begin to feel frantic, afraid of all the “bad” that will happen if we don’t get done what we need to get done or even worse, what it means about us if we don’t get done what we need to get done as perfectly as we imagine we need to. What a shit-show. This is for sure a welcome mat before the door to full-blown overwhelm. Stop. Check your feet. Presence yourself to right here, right now. Planting yourself where your feet are, the world takes on a simpler vibe. For me, I almost always am reminded that this moment, the moment my feet are in right now, is actually pretty damn good. Even when I am unhappy about something, recognizing that I in fact have shelter, food, and my health stops the overwhelm before it starts.

I hope these simple practices (simple, not easy!) can guard your day against overwhelm. With practice, overwhelm instances will decrease over time. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard… I’ll keep working on it and let you know how it turns out! 

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