I wish we had to take courses in school about how to deal with feeling overwhelmed. Everyone has to deal with that feeling at some point, and knowing how to handle it can mean a big difference in our happiness and quality of life.
One of my mentors, Ray Higdon, defined overwhelm as the feeling you get when there’s a lot of things on your plate to get done and you’re not doing any of it. And that’s what overwhelm is, just a feeling; it’s all in our minds. It’s not real (dammit). We’ve stopped DOING, and we’re thinking, Good God, how am I going to get all this stuff done?
This is a self-inflicted torture just to make ourselves miserable. For me, it’s my inner child throwing a tantrum about all the chores she has to do. Waaa!
The funny part is, if you were involved in one of those things on your To Do list, you wouldn’t be thinking of all the things you still have to do. You’d be taking ACTION and your mind would be concentrating on that. So now we know what to do to combat that feeling.
My remedy to the overwhelmed feeling is to think about centuries ago. I can’t help but wonder how the heck did pioneer women get all their daily chores done before it grew dark? Milking the cows, feeding the chickens and other barnyard animals, gathering eggs, weeding the garden or, God help us, plowing, chopping wood, not to mention the clothes to wash in a tub, carrying water, scrubbing the floors, cooking meals on a wood stove as well as keeping the fire going!
Suddenly I feel terribly grateful. That’s my answer to overwhelm. I feel darned lucky to have been born when I was, with heating and indoor plumbing and a stove and oven, screens in the porch and locks on the doors. Windows, curtains, shutters! We didn’t have a fireplace but we had television, stereo, cabinets down in the basement stocked with food.
I may have felt tired when I got up this morning, but I bet not as tired as I’d feel had I been a pioneer woman. I wouldn’t even know my own name. And when the sun went down you’re not even finished! That was the time take out the mending and sewing and get that done before going to bed.
Are you past the feeling of overwhelm, yet?
When you’re in the game, you don’t have time to think about the other stuff to get done. Don’t you remember, it’s the times when you have too much to do and you’re on a roll that you’re more productive than ever?
If you have time to think about being overwhelmed you’re on the sidelines sitting on the bench waiting for someone to come by and pull you and your mitt out onto the ballfield. Or you’re in the stands watching the players throwing the ball back and forth and accomplishing what they came to accomplish.
A.L. Williams, former coach and entrepreneur said, “All you can do is all you can do and all you can do is enough. Progress. Not perfection. Focus on progress.”
The enemy of overwhelm is progress. If you just take one step toward action. Even if it’s just making a list of items you need, or ideas for a blog post, or a video, or making a list of sites to help engage readers, you will discourage that feeling of overwhelm. You wouldn’t be here now if you didn’t think you could do it. Last week you thought you could do it. You haven’t changed since last week, only your attitude did.
The other day when I was feeling funky, part of my problem was I forgot to take my prescription that morning. The crappy attitude went away almost immediately after I realized it. It could be as simple as that.
So we just have to get going. You don’t have to start from scratch; you know what you have to do. Just stand up a minute. Stretch your arms overhead as far as you can. Feel your back muscles lengthen. Now put your arms down and breathe deeply from your diaphragm (holy moly I spelled diaphragm correctly). Feel the oxygen fill your lungs bringing oxygenated blood to your brain. You can think clearer now, right?
You get ‘em. You know what you want; you know what you have to do to get it. One small step forward creates more and more steps. You have a plan. Take action. You’re in charge!