Dealing With Overwhelm

How do you deal with overwhelm?

Many of us have been there…trying to balance work and life, to-do lists, deadlines, meetings, family, things that have to get done, responding to emails and phonecalls…

The list goes on and on!

When we feel overwhelmed, we don’t devote enough time to planning. We become short-tempered with colleagues, clients, friends and family. Our blood-pressure goes up. Evenings and weekends are taken up with “trying to catch up”. Decisions get postponed. And the things that are most important, in real terms, get neglected…until it’s too late.

Sound familiar?

But how do we deal with it?

For me, it starts with eliminating all the things that aren’t important.

But the response I typically get from clients is that it’s ALL important.

However, for a moment, step back and look at your list of all the things you have to do, and decide on

WHO is making it important, and

WHY is it important…whatever that is.

You see, we typically find ourselves saying that it’s important, when it’s not really.It’s important to respond to all the emails. It’s important to attend the meetings. It’s important to get all the tasks done.

I once told a client not to respond to the 1,000+ emails that he had in his inbox, and move them all to a separate folder in his email account, so that they would all still be there if he ever needed them, but his inbox would be empty, for once!

His reaction – shock and horror.

The difference afterwards – amazing, for him.

Did anything negative happen – No!

The thing is, sometimes we make things important; because WE want to feel important!

We’re looking for other people’s opinion, feedback, validation…to say to us that we’re a good boy/girl.

That we’re doing a good job.

Since we were a child we’ve been trained to operate this way. You’ll even see yourself doing with your own colleagues, friends and children.

We don’t want to let people down.

Where in fact we’re actually letting ourselves down.

It’s because of this “need” to have other people’s validation that our own self-esteem gets lower…and then we climb to a state of overwhelm.

So the question really becomes, out of everything that you feel “needs” to be done right now, what’s the most important thing to do?

And sometimes the answer might be to simply go for a walk, get some fresh air, take a deep breath, get a different perspective, or move all your emails from your inbox!

When we do this, we get back our control.

When we’re in control, overwhelm goes away.

What do you do when you experience being overwhelmed?