How to deal with feeling overwhelmed
We all struggle with overwhelm.
Millions of us feel overwhelmed daily.
Busy social calendars, financial concerns, the pressures of social media and keeping up with Dave, who you’ve not seen for 20 years but has the latest Range Rover and has just got back from an all-inclusive.
You know, the modern-day pressures we all face.
Not the age-old problems of finding food, shelter, warmth and fighting off wild animal attacks.
If you drop a frog into a shallow pot of boiling water, he'll jump out immediately. But if you place him in the water at room temperature, then gradually bring the liquid to a boil, the frog doesn't notice until it's too late
An ever-expanding lifestyle is imperceptible at first until it's too late
What is overwhelm?
Definition: If you are overwhelmed by a feeling or event, it affects you strongly, and you do not know how to deal with it.
Imagine feeling buried under a mountain of tasks that all need doing 'right now'.
Swamped by numerous demands on your time or overloaded by things needing your attention and focus.
Ultimately if you let it carry on, you'll feel overpowered and defeated as the volume becomes simply too much to cope with.
Feeling overwhelmed is a deep emotional response to countless, disorganised and unprioritised thoughts and experiences.
Wanting to lose weight can be overwhelming.
You feel like you're at the bottom of a mountain that you've been asked to climb.
You don't have a map of the best route to travel, you're not sure what the right tools for the job are and the summit looks so far away, you're not sure you'll ever reach it anyway.
Studies show that 6/10 of us struggle with life and keeping organised.
Work, money and family issues are the most common causes of stress and overwhelm.
Add to that household chores and life in general, you have a recipe for a total meltdown.
Here’s another stat for you: 7/10 of us think our lives have become just ‘too busy’ in recent years.
Now, as much as it might feel like it, the universe doesn’t simply wake up one morning and think, "You know what, let’s make things really miserable from now on. Let’s turn the business factor up to maximum and watch them fail."
It just doesn’t work like that.
As much as you like to think it’s out of your control.
And yep, I agree, at some stages, it feels like that.
The fact is, it really isn’t.
You’re in control. Full stop.
Every little thing that is causing your overwhelming feeling.
Every drain on your time, every stress, every expectation, and every limiting perspective that you place on top of your thinking.
They are all in your control.
The root cause of all of this is the fact that you lose yourself in the process and it's then too easy to tell yourself, "I feel so overwhelmed".
You have unlimited potential, but you are also a human being, with a limited amount of physical, mental and emotional energy on any given day.
Where you aim that energy is up to you.
Going back to weight loss ... you can focus on feeling restricted and hungry or you can focus on the positive changes that you are making for your health and fitness.
One will drain you and one will lift your energy.
It’s not an unlimited supply, and the more you use and deplete it without replenishing, the greater the feeling of overwhelm.
Most of us know that if we kick the arse out of our bank account over the weekend, without regard for what’s in there and no thought of replacing what we spend, it will eventually run out.
It's the same with your energy.
Use it without rest, recovery and replenishment, and eventually, you will crash and burn.
If you allow yourself to be dragged from pillar to post, reacting, coping and keeping up with everything, you allow the external to control the internal.
And your 'energy service' becomes overwhelmed and is unable to cope with the demand for it.
How to cope when feeling overwhelmed
From this point on, you need to rewrite your story.
Most people stuck in overwhelm tell themselves the same story over and over again.
This means that they never have the ability to change the way they see things.
Usually, it’s "I can’t change it because..."
So, from now on, tell yourself, "I can change this, it’s in my control and this is how I’ll do it instead."
The first few times you do it, I guarantee there will be a few "buts" in there.
"I can BUT..."
Always remember though ...
"But" is a blocker, and will keep you stuck.
Don’t use "But".
Practice. Get your reps in.
The first time you say it, you might not believe it.
The thousandth time you say it, you’ll be unstoppable.
"I CAN change this."
It’s crazy how often I feel overwhelmed.
Every day, I’m out of my comfort zone, trying to do better and to improve some area of my life.
Stay out of your comfort zone for too long and you start to feel the stress and overwhelm build.
When that happens, I know it’s time to take stock and dip back into the familiar.
I usually find that regardless of the size of the problem, when all of my senses are screaming at me to make big, drastic changes, all I really need is to do one of the following and take stock:
1. A walk in the fresh air with my family
2. A good night's sleep
3. 10 minutes of yoga and mindful breathing
Three simple things that help me relax and refocus. Pick one and try it the next time you’re having a tough day.
---- And then I ask myself, "What's the one thing I can do right now that will relieve some of the overwhelm and pressure I've put on myself?".
Add to it your new mantra of:
"I can change this, it’s in my control and this is how I’ll do it instead."
And trust me, doors will open.
Things will change.
You will be in control...
Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.
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