Words by Tara Wagner
How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed Right Now AND FOR GOOD
In this blog I want to talk to you about a topic I know way too well: feeling overwhelmed. I want to show you how to stop feeling overwhelmed, but not just for right now; I really want to show you how to break the cycle for good.
Watch here or read below.
I’m gonna be sharing 4 steps that I take when I feel overwhelmed that really helps me to get out of the pattern of it; not just deal with it in that moment but really shift it longer term.
But the first thing that I want to say is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
We are all overwhelmed AF right now. We live in a busier, crazier, noisier world than we’ve ever lived in and it is always asking us to be on. And quite frankly, our brains are not designed to keep up with the pace of it.
Even good stuff can still feel overwhelming just simply because there’s too much of it.
So in the simplest definition, overwhelm is about too much, too often and for too long, and we get into these situations by what we habitually do or what we allow.
Mel Robbins has this really great video that illustrates this experience of too much, too often, and for too long, and she talks about how to stop feeling overwhelmed right now. It’s an amazing tool! She’s talking about using a brain dump and then just choosing three things from that list. And she’s so right on.
This will help you to manage your overwhelm in this exact moment, but in order to really break the habit of overwhelm, in order to not feel overwhelmed tomorrow or next week, we need to take that example that she gives a few steps further.
Don’t just use this as an opportunity to cross things off your brain dump list. Use this as an opportunity to reset your priorities and make some real changes going forward.
Step #1: Understand What Overwhlem is
Step number one is to really understand what overwhelm is. Overwhelm is an emotion, and all so-called negative emotions are signals of our unmet needs.
Now, this is why a brain dump works so well when we’re feeling overwhelmed because it helps us to meet our needs for things like clarity, order, or organization.
But if we don’t break the patterns influencing those needs and our ability to meet those needs on a regular basis, we’re going to get right back into overwhelm again and again and again.
And then that brain dump is going to feel less productive, less helpful because it’s not really breaking the pattern. We’re still feeling the overwhelm even if we can stop it sooner.
So when I get into this space of overwhelm, I use this as my signal that I haven’t been honoring my boundaries or my needs up to that point and now my emotions have gotten to this place in order to let me know what I actually need to be doing, kind of behind the scenes.
I’m not just trying to figure out my overwhelm, I’m trying to really address the patterns that led to that overwhelm.
Which always leads to step number two before anything else, including doing your brain dump…
Step #2: Self-Care Like Whoa
Step number 2 is Self-Care Like Whoa. I always take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and plug into some self-care, whatever sounds deeply nourishing in that moment, even if it’s only for a few seconds.
We can’t solve the problem of overwhelm from a state of overwhelm.
We really get to step back, take those deep breaths, and do something that will help us to feel grounded, calm, to feel centered…You could play with your dogs, you could go for a quick walk, you could make out with your partner, you could do whatever you need to do to settle the emotions around overwhelm and THEN go into solving the problem.
Nothing is gonna fall apart in three minutes of quiet time.
When you’re feeling a bit calmer then you can go into your brain dump and you absolutely can start with just three things to kind of get the ball rolling and get some momentum going.
One of my favorite quotes is by Joan Baez; she says:
“Action is the antidote to despair.”
When we’re feeling overwhelmed if we can start with those three things, it’s going to help us to get into a different motion, move our body into a new place, which is going to help shift our emotions into a new place as well.
Step #3: Pump Up Your Brain Dump
Here’s what really serves me best when I’m doing a brain dump, after I dump everything out, and I mean everything, anything that has been rattling around in my head goes into that brain dump, no matter what area of life that it’s in.
But then I really look at not just 3 things that I can do immediately to ease some of that overwhelm, I look at QUESTIONS that are really gonna serve me in the long run and help to shift some of those patterns that we were talking about that have created this experience of overwhelm.
Now I’m gonna go through some of these questions but if you would like to download these and get a few more questions, click here.
As I’m going through my brain dump I’m asking questions like:
- What do I just need to let go of?
- What can be outsourced?
- What can be slowed down or maybe stopped altogether?
- Where do I need to change or take charge of my schedule, my habits, my daily routines?
- What patterns do I need to change?
Really what you’re looking for are patterns that got you here in the first place. This could be a lack of boundaries, a lack of clear priorities, a lack of self-care.
Again if you would like these questions and a few more to help you really tackle your brain dump and tackle this overwhelm, be sure to grab it here.
Step #4: Make Real Changes
Step number 4 is to then make real changes.
Nothing changes if nothing actually changes, right? It’s the definition of insanity to keep doing the same things over and over and not expect to keep feeling overwhelmed.
This means we need to look at that brain dump and not just look at the things that we need to do, but like I was saying in that last step, really look at the changes that need to be made and actually make real changes – actually implement something that’s going to shift a pattern in your life or shift a habit or shift things that are happening that are getting you to this place of overwhelm.
If you know that you have a pattern of always taking everything on, you need to make some real changes to start breaking that pattern so that you’re not taking on things you don’t need to take on, so that other people are chipping in where they need to chip in and you can stop feeling overwhelmed.
It’s our opportunity to slow back down, and for me, oftentimes it’s an opportunity to let go of the good so that I can focus on the great.
Tell yourself that you are taking radical responsibility for what got you to this place and for what gets you out.
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About the Author
I’m the breakthrough coach for self-employed women who are barely surviving their business. I help you to identify and overcome your old habits – both practical, as well as emotional and mental – learn a better way of approaching the work/life/family juggling act, and gain confidence in your new role in your growing businesses. Learn more about me here.
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