Sara Young Wang, in an article for Forbes, narrowed feeling overwhelmed down to 4 main causes. These are:
- The fear of bad outcomes.
- Feeling uncertain.
- Struggling to find a solution to tough problems.
- Having a mind that’s constantly racing with thoughts.
The act of feeling overwhelmed is something we ALL experience in our lifetime and it’s completely manageable. Whether it’s work, a family matter, school, university or just life’s mysterious way of working – it happens to the best of us. It’s simply a case of finding ways of doing so, and yes I know that sounds naive but stay with me!
- To-do lists are your friend, not the enemy!
Ironically, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you know you have a long list of things to get done. However, an article by The Guardian wrote how Psychologist, Dr. David Cohen, believes in using to-do lists as a form of keeping a structure.
He says that to-do lists help decrease the anxieties caused by the chaos of everyday life. They are also proof of our achievements for that day/ week. I find that last one is extremely important as a means of reminding yourself how well you’ve actually done and all that you’ve achieved in said day or week.
2. Tackle daunting tasks with lots of breaks.
It’s hard to feel motivated to start a task or chore when you know it’s either a big one to tackle or will take a while to do. Therefore it’s crucial that you have a motivator in place to make it a bit more appealing. Whether it’s for food, a cup of tea or a stretch. It helps massively to break big tasks into little segments.
3. Keep your space tidy.
Taken from an article by The Next Web, neuroscientists at Princeton University found that clutter around you will subconsciously take up some of your attention. This, of course, results in a lack of productivity and an unfortunate increase in stress. A combination none of us want.
By doing mini tidy ups every few days, you can easily keep on top of your space. Remember a tidy space is a productive space. If this isn’t the case, find another place that is for the time being!
4. Throw on some feel-good music.
I am very much aware that it’s been said a thousand times before, but music is the BEST way to lift your spirits and power through what needs to get done.
According to Time, studies have shown that music can help improve your mood and diminish anxiety. It’s also been proven to “lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol and ease pain”. Need I say more on this one?
5. Talk about it.
I know you’ll instantly want to close the tab after reading those words but hear me out (or read me out?). When I say talk, what I mean is literally tell someone about the list of things you need to get done, especially if it’s on your mind. Talk the list through with somebody and watch how the power of your worries begins to lessen. Try it!
6. Walk, run, jump, dance – get moving.
The worst thing you can do when you feel anxious or overwhelmed is sit in a room and sit and ponder your thoughts. It’s scary how easy it is to get caught up in your thoughts, and so it’s important to avoid doing so when possible.
Go outside for 10 minutes, open your window and get some fresh air or simply have a wander around wherever you are. The idea is to get moving, get some thinking going on away from the screen of your computer or page of your notebook!
7. Take yourself away from it.
This one coincides with the point above. I bet you’re thinking “hold on, you’re now telling me to avoid what I need to get done?”, not quite! What I AM saying is to set yourself timers. Say you plan to sit down for a period of time and smash out some work and then have a smaller timescale set, to get up and do something else – watch a programme, check social media, whatever it is.
Sometimes, taking yourself away from what you’re doing for 10 minutes or so and going back to it can really allow you to see it with a pair of fresh eyes. Give it a go and see.
The main thing to remember is that life can often feel too much and therefore make us feel overwhelmed. However, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t capable of getting what needs to get done, done. It means that we need to fight our panicked minds and prove, that actually, by tackling the task/s one step at a time, it will soon get done. The impossible always seems impossible until you break it down to the steps you need to be taking, in order to get to the possible.
I hope this has helped. Take care of yourself, always.
Ciao for now x