We all get overwhelmed at times. I have better days than others. That’s why when I saw this podcast popped up in my podcast. My takeaway from this podcast about how to survive when you feel overwhelmed?
“Take control” vs. “Being controlled.”
Often, we are overwhelmed because there are too many things going on at the same time and we don’t know where to start and which one should be the priority. Once these overwhelming feelings begin to become the norm, we get lost and often become anxious and depressed. Why? We are anxious about the things that haven’t done and its consequences. Lacking the sense of accomplishment also makes us feel bad about ourselves and, in the long run, becomes a depressive feeling.
To prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, the most crucial step is to take control instead of being in control. In another word, you have to either prevent flooding from happening or to intervene when the overwhelming feelings already arrived as soon as you can.
Many times, I feel overwhelmed because I have too much going on and I don’t know where to start. When I already feel overwhelmed, I usually take two steps: breath and to-do list. I often would sit down and do a short breathing exercise for about 1-3 minutes to clear my mind. Then, what I usually do is to start making the to-do list. From the to-do list, I start with something I can do in 5-minutes without thinking. For example, I need to print out the invoices/receipt for my clients, and it usually takes me only five minutes to do so. That’s usually something I would start. Once I began to cross out the list, I begin to feel that I am calming down from the overwhelming feelings.
Breathing and to-do-list are my intervention. Still, throughout the years, I have learned that the best way to prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed or from walking down the path of feeling overwhelmed is to feel I have control over my time instead of being controlled by my time. So, if I have a big project needed to be done, I will break down the project and put them on my calendar to get it done small pieces at a time. By doing so, I don’t get overwhelmed by the deadline comes.
The other thing I try to do to control the overwhelming feeling is to establish the to-do items as a ritual. For example, I always pay all my bills the last Sunday of the months. Everything will be paid no matter when is the due date. I always do my chores on Saturday, such as laundry, grocery, cleaning the house, etc..By always doing these necessary chores at the same time, I don’t let these chores overwhelming me because they will get done on the regular basis.
I am pleasantly surprised that my practice is in line with the suggestions in this podcast. You can listen to the podcast here before you continue.
Prevention: From the podcast, they provided these four steps to escape overwhelming:
1) Identify your roles and responsibilities
2) Learn to say no: it’s not easy but if you have to disappoint someone, who would you rather disappoint, yourself, people who is close to you, or your acquaintances?
3) Get out of your email and budgeting your email time.
4) Rituals, especially the self-care rituals, such as meditation, morning routines.
Intervention: If you are already feeling overwhelmed at the moment, here are some things you can do:
1) Get into nature
2) Focused on something you can control
3) To meditate
4) Take a walk, physical activities
5) Ask yourself these questions:
==> Have I ever had enough sleep?
==> Have I eaten?
==> Have I taken a walk?
If there is indeed a situation to fix:
==> Is there anything I can do to fix this?
==> Is there anyone with the information I can call to ask?
To sum up, here are the five things suggested by this podcast that you can do to systematically prevent the overwhelming feelings:
1) Task managing: break down the big project
2) Eliminate items you can’t do
3) Eliminate unnecessary due dates
4) Eliminate clutter
5) Reflect on your experience after you make it through an overwhelming situation
If you often feel overwhelmed, and, to a certain degree, feeling anxious and depressed, I hope this podcast provided you with some direction. If you seldom feel overwhelmed, I would like to hear from you. What are the prevention or intervention strategies you help yourself to maintain the healthy distance with the overwhelming feelings?
Breathing Exercise by Dr Andrew Weill: