We all know what it is like when you are feeling overwhelmed. The knots in the stomach, the worry and the fear. You can become overwhelmed for a variety of reasons, but there are some simple things you can do to overcome feeling overwhelmed. These are broken down by the common things that make you feel overwhelmed, but each naturally applies across the board.
If you are feeling overwhelmed more often than not or think that what you are feeling may be more than being overwhelmed, please do speak to your GP or call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. You are not alone and help is available.
What to do when you are feeling overwhelmed by the kids
Stop and breathe. In and out. Take big, deep breaths that fill your lungs with fresh air and your mind with clarity. Close your eyes and with each breath imagine the oxygen flowing into your body and down to your lungs. Sometimes, in some situations, all you can do is breathe and that is enough. Teach the kids to take big deep breaths when they need calming and it will be a great tool for all of you as you navigate life together.
Go for a walk
Strap the kids into a stroller (or pop the baby in a baby carrier) and head outside for a walk. A change of scenery can help with changing the focus and also changing the energy. The stroller will give you physical space and the distractions around you – cars, trees, other people – will allow you some mental space. If you are near a park, walk there and you can all burn off some energy, or the kids can run around while you sit and watch. If you are by yourself, or can leave the kids with someone while you go for a walk, enjoy the solitude. Zone your focus into the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other. Enjoy listening to a podcast, music or the sounds of nature surrounding you.
Count to 10
Everyone knows how to do it. Count slowly. Match your breath to your counting. The great thing about a simple task like this is that you can get the kids involved. Get them to count along with you. Like going for a walk, it is a way to reset the mood.
Join in the moment
There are times when you just need to let go and be in the moment. Forget whatever else is on your mind and commit yourself, for however long, to just being there with your kids. Often we can be overwhelmed because the kids are demanding our attention when our to do list is as long as our arm. But sometimes, all it takes to satisfy the kids and allow you to move on, is to just be. Lie on the ground with them and slither around like snakes, or draw a picture. Dip in to give them what they need and worry about the rest when that moment is over.
Get out the playdough
If you really need something to help you with your moments of overwhelm, crack open the playdough. The kids will love you for it, but really it is about you and how therapeutic it is to knead the playdough between your fingers and recall that smell of childhood.
Stand up, put on the music and shake your sillies (or in this case your feelings of overwhelm) out. One song can be all it takes to give you some energy, reset the mood and give you back a feeling of control.
What to do when you are feeling overwhelmed with life
Keep a journal
Not a short term solution, but rather one to implement daily if you want to get your worries and fears out of your mind and onto paper. A journal doesn’t have to be a long form diary if you don’t want it to be. A simple bullet journal where you record your challenges and successes can be very effective. Find a journal or a template that works for you and write in it as often as feels right for you.
Write a list
If you have a lot to do and it is making you feel overwhelmed, write down every task that needs to be done. Once you have it done on paper you can easily tackle each thing, one at a time. Having it written down also allows you to prioritise and see exactly what you are up against. When you don’t have to remember everything that you need to do, it also frees up some head space to be able to actually get things done.
A simple reminder of everything you have to be grateful for. A roof over your head or healthy kids. Find something everyday that you are grateful for. Whether it is your baby saying “mama” for the first time or completing a big task at work on time. Celebrate anything and everything that makes you feel good and has a positive impact on your life.
Get that body moving! Go for a walk, head to the gym or pop on a YouTube workout video. If your kids are around, try Cosmic Yoga on YouTube. They are story-based guided yoga workouts for kids and they are fabulous. Moving your body can bring clarity and is just plain good for you!
Easier said than done when you have little people to take care of. Like keeping a journal, sleep is more of a long term solution to feeling overwhelmed. Put your phone away an hour before bed and try to get to bed as early as you can. If it helps, practice meditation before bed, or read a few pages of a book, to help you get in the right frame of mind for a restful sleep.
What to do when you are feeling overwhelmed by a task
Sometimes you just need a break from the task (the best friend call) and sometimes, no matter how hard you try you just aren’t going to be able to do it so you need to call in help. A friend or partner can be great to call for a vent or break from the task. And if it is competency you are struggling with, try a tech helpline or call a colleague for assistance.
Have a shower
Have you ever noticed how your best ideas come about in the shower? There is nothing to distract you and your mind is clear so that is often when genius hits. If you are in a position to have one, a shower can be the perfect break you need to clear your thoughts and prepare to head back to tackle the task at hand.
Drink a glass of water
Dehydration affects your mental capacity so a glass of water (or two) may do the trick at helping rid of you of your overwhelm. Step away from your task, drink the entire glass of water and then get back to it.
What to do when you are feeling overwhelmed at work
Take a break
Whether it is a lunch break, a quick coffee break or even just a toilet break, sometimes you just need to step out of your work environment. If you can plan to walk during your lunch breaks you are getting the benefits of time out and exercise combined.
Ask for help
When you are juggling too many balls, it’s best to ask for help rather than let them all come crashing down on top of you. Your boss or a colleague is a good first step but it’s also a good idea to have a mentor at work, someone out of your direct line of management, who you can go to for advice. Go to people you trust and ask for their assistance.
Do you say yes to everyone who asks you to do something? As much as you are a super woman, you can’t (and shouldn’t!) do everything. Saying yes to everything doesn’t do anyone any favours. You get overwhelmed by everything you have to do and probably don’t do the best you can because you’ve just got too much to do. Start saying no to avoid overfilling your plate.
Write a “done” list
As helpful as a “to do list” is, a “done” list can be just as powerful. Write down everything you have achieved so far that day/week. Looking back and knowing that you can actually complete tasks or are achieving awesome things might give you some perspective on what lays ahead and help stop you feeling overwhelmed.
A quick win and then eat the frog
The productivity method of eat the frog tells you to tackle your biggest tasks first each day. But if you are feeling overwhelmed this can be a mighty ask. Get stuck into a few quick wins first to build your confidence and then eat that frog! By the time you get to the big task you will hopefully have lost that overwhelmed feeling.
What to do when you are feeling overwhelmed by problems
Break it down
What is the problem? Does it seem bigger than it is because you have been mulling over it in your had, playing out every possible scenario or outcome? Sometimes when you verbalise a problem, or write it down, it turns out that it’s not so big after all. Get to the bottom of what the problem actually is so you can deal with it.
Meditation is a great tool for when you are overwhelmed because it helps bring clarity, focus and calm. The Headspace app includes short guided meditations along a variety of themes to help you learn the art of meditation and mindfulness.
A reminder that help is available if you think that what you are feeling is more than being overwhelmed. your GP is a good first step, or alternatively calling the Beyond Blue helpline on 1300 22 4636 will also connect you with someone who can help.
What do you do to stop feeling overwhelmed?
Image: Hipster Mum
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