The first thing I do, which may sound counter-intuitive, is to stop. I don’t want to do anything while I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious – I don’t want to bring that energy to what I’m doing, so I stop.
I make sure I have a list of all the things that need to be done, this helps because then I don’t have to worry that I might forget something.
I don’t get back to work until my energy feels better, so I do anything that helps me get my energy under control – I might go for a walk, do some meditation or exercise, practice breathing or grounding techniques – anything that releases the anxiety, calms my mind and helps me feel better.
Once my energy is in a better place and I’m feeling calmer, then and only then will I look at my list. I ask myself, what is the one thing on this list that I really want to get done? Focusing only on one thing is manageable and doesn’t feel overwhelming. Once that item is done, I ask the same thing again – what is the one thing I want to get done?
If I look at my entire list and think that I have to get multiple things done today, then I’ll go back into feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But if I give myself permission to just do one thing, I feel much calmer.
The wonderful thing about doing it this way is that I always find that I get multiple things done on my list. I’m always surprised at the end of the day when I look back to see how much I’ve accomplished.
This is a way of being gentle with yourself, and of maximizing use of your time and energy. When I take this approach I find that I complete tasks much faster and more easily and I feel good while I’m doing them.
Managing your energy, rather than your time, and allowing yourself to do one thing at a time, rather than multi-tasking is extremely effective – and much more enjoyable.
It can be scary the first time you try it because your mind will tell you that you can’t possibly get everything done, but if you give it a try I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The other thing that helps is to use the “time” affirmation:
“Time expands for me. I have plenty of time to do everything I want to do.”
Do you have any tips for handling overwhelm? I’d love to hear them.