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  • Writer's pictureWendy Smith

Overwhelm, It Happens

Burying your head in the sand is the best way to wander blindly into a meltdown. Overwhelm is a totally normally thing to experience in life yet it tends to be pushed away and dismissed so often under the banner of ‘you should be able to cope’.

However, people living under the assumption that everybody copes all of the time can lead to panic attacks, meltdowns, negative self beliefs and inner conflict. It is one of those interesting states of being that suddenly creeps up on you and before you know it everything in your world is a mess. The job is wrong, the relationship is not working, the body feels tired, the diet goes out the window.

When our system gets into this state our perception changes and the way we look at all aspects of our life change. The process of denial starts (not the river in Egypt) and the person will begin to blame everything and everyone in their environment for the feelings they are feeling, when it could be as simple as one small thing that has got out of control.

An example would be work overload. Teachers experience this on a regular basis. They have stats to gather, lesson plans to write, reports to write, marking to do etc… and they have to teach all day in school, so when do the other bits get done? They get home tired and may think “I will do that tomorrow” and then tomorrow brings another challenge that is added to the list and then the stress loop begins, they do not get paid to work at home yet a large percentage of their work has to be done at home.

They begin to lose out on family time or social time or me time and then find their sleep is disrupted, this leads to waking up tired and already stressing about the lack of time they have to complete the tasks in hand. Their before school time gets taken up by people constantly wanting a conversation and because the majority of people do no want to offend someone else, they allow the time vampire to suck the minutes out the day instead of politely stating they have work to do.

This then leads to less time, more thoughts of less time and ever increasing levels of anxiety, worry and doubt. The more worried and stressed we become the more the brain looks for problems in the person’s environment. Maybe now the tolerance levels towards the noise of the children has become a problem, maybe they question their job, maybe they question how good they are at their job. You can imagine how, if not stopped, this loop unfolds. Where does that excess stressed feeling get shunted to?

I have had one client say to me “everything always goes wrong all of the time, nothing ever goes right for me”, what an interesting deletion of information that person is experiencing, just read the words again… everything – always – all the time. Can you imagine what they are missing in life and how focused they are on the problem.

This particular client had one issue that they had been focused on intently for weeks and after discussing the deletions, they realised that actually most things go right, just this one small thing hadn’t worked this time. An interesting experiment to do if you find yourself in this particular state of overwhelm is notice ‘what is not the problem’, my client’s laugh when I get them to do this because they find it silly yet it opens up their awareness to how much of their environment they are missing.

An example, the kettle is not the problem, the flower is not the problem, the coffee is not the problem, the dog is not the problem, the pen is not the problem. You may think I am mad as balloons but this really does open your mind up to everything that is not a problem and for the majority of people the problem shrinks to a manageable chunk.

Overwhelm can make you question everything in your life and people tend to be so scared to voice their overwhelm in the workplace because they perceive it will show weakness or an inability to do their job which could lead to unemployment. There is no shame in overwhelm, the majority of cases just need some structure in how they run their day and how they run other people. Considering your own mental health instead of worrying about offending someone by not spending 15 minutes of your break talking about eastenders or gossiping is crucial to beginning the process of gaining control and rebalancing yourself.

How much time do others take from you on a daily basis? I am not saying ignore everyone all the time, what I am suggesting is that you set boundaries and structure so that other people are informed as to when you have chit chat time and when you really need to crack on and get stuff done. If people knew how stressed you were with your time schedules, work load, upcoming events etc.. they would happily leave you to it.

So, what do you do to alleviate overwhelm? 1. Set boundaries with other people. 2. Create a structure to achieve the desired result. 3. Take regular timeout for you. 4. Work smart not hard. 5. Learn to change your perception and focus.

  1. Set boundaries – there is no need to be rude to anyone, just say “I have a mass of work to get through, can we talk later when I am done”? Close your office door to signal that you are busy and let people know that when the door is closed you are having non interrupting time.

  2. Structure your day in a way that will work for you, not you work for it. Get up 20 minutes early to set your state for the day. Spend the time relaxing, waking up and designing the day in your mind. Stay off of social media and emails first thing it is scientifically proven to lower productivity and add to negative feelings. Designate times for emails, times for callbacks and times for you. If you are answering calls, sending emails, texting and trying to crack on with work you will become less productive, give them all their designated space (as much as possible).

  3. You need timeout. 10 minute slots here and there just to clear your head and reboot.

  4. Make sure you are working smart – designating where possible – asking for help if needed – automating processes. What do you need to do to smarten up your day?

  5. How you view a situation is the result you will get. Your thoughts direct your bodies chemicals which leads to feelings and then more of the same. Listen to the language you use is it negative or positive because if you are constantly using negative association with language your body will respond and the brain will focus on the negative aspects in your environment.

There are many ways to create balance throughout the day and change the old patterns to allow you to function better in your environment. The most import factors to creating change on any level are AWARENESS, OWNERSHIP & ATTITUDE.

Above are just some simple tips to begin to redesign your day and help you move into a more balanced state.

There is no quick fix, just a combination of becoming aware before it becomes a problem and then knowing how to structure your day and your internal state to achieve the optimum result.

Your mind matters – make time for you!

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