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Overwhelming overwhelm!

Overwhelm may have a double meaning. It may refer to a situation where you may be overwhelmed by a sense of joy from something nice happening in your life. However, it could also have a dark side! Where you may feel overwhelmed by pressure from the number of things you need to get done and you see no way of getting through.

Overwhelm may be fuelled by the pressure of study, work, finances, family commitments, relationships and life in general.  This Dream Breaker may seriously impact your emotional wellbeing and wellness. It may also lead to a spiral of negative self-talk, inaction and self-doubt.

Overwhelm may have a tendency to creep up on you. You may feel in control but then all of a sudden you have a deadline looming and more tasks coming in. You may realise you can’t get it all done on time. This may impact on your ability to think clearly and your workload may appear bigger than it really is. For some the enormity of it all can be quite debilitating and you may feel you can’t cope. You may struggle to start or finish tasks and may lead to a feeling of disorganisation and disorientation. Perfectionists may be more at risk from this Dream Breaker. The self-imposed standards they set themselves may increase the level of work required, making their performance slower and may send them into the bottom half of the rainbow.

We all deal with life’s pressures in different ways and may be overwhelmed for different reasons. In some cases, overwhelm may not necessarily be a bad thing. However, it’s important to recognise and manage so you may tackle it head on rather than unknowingly be consumed by it.

My shrine to the colour RED, no wonder I was overwhelmed!

I moved to a new apartment and I had to furnish my new home on a budget. Once everything was in place, you would not be wrong in thinking it was a shrine to my favourite colour, red! I thought it looked very tasteful. But the polite reaction from some family and friends suggested otherwise.

One of my purchases was a number of large red, wooden beaded placemats. One evening I was feeling very disillusioned with my work!  I had so many things to do. I was jumping from one task to another. I was beginning to doubt my ability to get things done. I actually thought I was chipping away at it but in reality, I wasn’t making any progress. I was stagnating despite having deadlines to meet and internal pressure to succeed. I felt so much angst and I was feeling sick. I had a real fear of hopelessness and failure.

I opened up to my partner during dinner, explaining how disheartened I’d become at my lack of progress. He listened intently and then suddenly picked up one of the red placemats. He brushed his hand across all the beads and said; “Allan, this placemat is where you’re at”. He pointed to the placemat and explained that the beads represented all the tasks that needed to be done to succeed. He said, “shit there’s a lot of them here!”  Then he explained that I was just being overwhelmed by the enormity of everything I needed to get done. He pointed to the bead in farthest bottom left corner of the placemat and said; “This is where you are now, all you need to do is focus on this one bead and forget the rest.” He said if I get one thing done, I’d feel better and be able to move on to the next bead.

This quite simply blew me away! I sat there and had a moment of profound acknowledgment. Visually, his analogy was spot on. In my haste to get everything done I had lost sight of what I was actually trying to achieve. I had put myself in a total state of panic, displaying all the characteristics, of overwhelm. Our discussion really helped put things into perspective. It forced me to go back and revisit my goals and review how I intended to achieve them.


My 5 tips to beat overwhelm

Next time you feel things building up! Don’t beat yourself up! Breathe and remember the placemat! Take a step back from everything that you need to get done, reflect upon and acknowledge all the tasks on your placemat! Collect your thoughts and remember it’s not all bad. There is always a way forward. Re-evaluate what you need to get done, detail the steps needed to get there and say to yourself; “I can do this one step at a time!”

1 List your jobs

Let’s start by looking at how big your placemat actually is. List all the jobs you need to do, but don’t think too much about what they involve, just get your ideas down.

2 Why am I doing this?

Review your list. Are there any jobs you don’t need to do or aren’t interested in? Understanding why you are doing the job may help you to manage you’re overwhelm. Marcia Reynolds PsyD., author of The Discomfort Zone and Wander Woman suggests you should do jobs that energise you and create enthusiasm for the task ahead. Understanding the benefits, it may bring creates purpose and helps you feel good about yourself especially if you are progressing towards your goals. (13)

3 Evaluate your jobs

Look at the jobs on your list. How big are they really?  Organise them into larger and smaller jobs. Then work out what you have to do to finish them and when they need to be completed by.

4 Organise your jobs

Sort the jobs by how important they are; such as, 1 for urgent, 2 for medium and 3 low priority. Are there any jobs that you can do now to give you a quick win? Imagine the feeling of relief to cross something off your list quickly.


5 You can’t do everything!

Your state of overwhelm may be fuelled by a genuine overload in the number of jobs you need to do or maybe you just don’t have the confidence in your ability, but sometimes overwhelm may impact your emotional wellbeing to the extent that you need some professional advice and support.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, then perhaps it’s time to seek help. Help may come in the form of learning a new skill or perhaps you simply need ask someone else to help you.

You may consider engaging the services of one of my partners. Search the partner directory for a partner near you. If you haven’t done so already, activate your Success Generator now! The tools and strategies are there to help you find direction and take ACTION towards your goals and dreams.

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