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8 Simple Strategies to Move Beyond Overwhelm - Part One

April 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 67

What do you do when you're feeling overwhelmed? I hear this word so often from the busy women I see as clients and all my friends who are moms! "Overwhelm" can be a result of having too much on your to-do list, a recent change or loss, a new venture or project, or unrealistic expectations.

When I'm overwhelmed, I admit to a tendency to avoid, procrastinate, snack, avoid again, get a lot of non-important things done so I'm "doing", but not really get the picture! Often overwhelm leads to a vicious cycle of avoidance or spinning your wheels without getting traction on your goals. The last time I felt overwhelmed, I focused on positive solutions and wanted to share what works with you.

1. BREATHE Seriously, you know I talk about this a lot and I mean it! Deep breathing tells our brain, "there is no emergency here, things will be OK" and paying attention to our breath slows us down automatically and brings us to the present moment, which is calming. When we are calm, we are better able to make good decisions that will help get us out of overwhelm instead of frantically focusing on the problems. I also use mindfulness and relaxation techniques I teach on my website. What are your favorite, quick de-stressors? (that are healthy?!)

2. ASK FOR HELP I reached out to people I knew could offer support, guidance and a fresh perspective. Often we need to delegate and let others take care of some items on our list. Sometimes we just need to talk to a friend who will offer encouragement, or sometimes we need to get "expert" help, and I believe prayer is powerful here! Who could you ask for help?

3. TAKE CARE OF BASIC NEEDS Sometimes when we get over-busy and overwhelmed, we neglect basic self-care, but this is the time when we need it most! We are better able to cope with stress when we take the time for healthy eating, hydration, rest, exercise, and some activities that provide a fun break. How can you make sure you are getting adequate sleep, nutrition, and other essential self-care so you can have more energy and focus to move beyond the feelings of overwhelm?

4. ASK YOURSELF: WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP? I won't say, what is the next "best" step, because those of us with perfectionistic tendencies, may get stuck on the "best" part! So, I ask myself, "what would be helpful?" You may come up with something that is comforting more than productive and that is OK for the time being. Sometimes we need to step away from a situation in order to come back with clarity or sometimes we know the next action step that will make a difference and help us feel empowered. What would be a helpful next step for you?

5. START SMALL Often that next step from number 4 will be a baby step. A huge project will seem overwhelming if we look at the entire thing at once. Breaking it down into smaller, do-able tasks is much more empowering. I like the phrase, "some is better than none"! If I can just work for 5 minutes on a task, it builds confidence, momentum and adds up! 15 minutes of exercise is better than none, one pile of paperwork taken care of is better than get idea! No more "all or nothing" thinking that often leads to perfectionistic paralysis! How could you break a project down into smaller tasks?

6. BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS and "reframe" as needed. When remodeling recently, walking through my house and seeing the playroom piled high with random things from the kitchen left me feeling tired and overwhelmed just looking at it! However, our reactions are based in our thoughts, and we can change our thoughts. With negative thoughts, we can feel powerless, get depressed and won't take any action. Just knowing we always have a choice empowers us! Sometimes the choice is just to "reframe" our thought about the situation. Instead of "Everything is such a mess and I can't stand it!" Becomes,"I'm learning to be OK with this transition, because it will all be beautiful in the end!" Or, "I will find one small area to improve, or something else I can change". What thoughts contribute to your feeling overwhelmed? How could you reframe them?

7. RECOGNIZE WHAT ENERGIZES YOU and do it! I love to be out in nature, taking fitness classes, and reading with my kids. No matter how busy I am, a hike in the woods with my dog always refreshes me and makes me more productive and focused for the rest of the day. I love my work with clients and am energized by the connections and transformations that happen. I make time for the things that revive me and try to cut out the things that drain my energy. The parts of my business that I don't enjoy, (eg billing) I refer to step 2 and ask for help and/or delegate! Notice how you are energized and make a plan to fit it into your schedule!

8. GIVE YOUR TO-DO LIST A MAKEOVER! If you do not keep a list at all, that may be contributing to feelings of overwhelm and fear that you're forgetting things. If you have a daily list that is impossibly long, you are adding to your stress and overwhelm every day! You may want to keep a master list of everything you want to accomplish, but your daily list should be realistic. Consider if some things can be ditched (not really necessary) or delegated (who else can do it?) or which would feel great to get done? I encourage clients to put a star next to two things, that if done, will lead to feeling relieved and great about the day! Be sure to notice what you have done and give yourself credit, rather than beating yourself up for what is not yet finished. There will always be more tasks, but sometimes it is helpful to acknowledge what we've accomplished. When we complete important tasks (or even face tasks we have been avoiding), we boost our self-efficacy - our belief that we have the power to make changes - and that is one of the best antidotes to feeling overwhelmed.

I hope you feel encouraged and empowered with these strategies and action steps! I invite you to give yourself permission to ask for help, take care of basic needs, let go of some things on your list, or whatever small steps you know will make a huge difference with moving you beyond overwhelm.

Michelle Wilson, MA LMHC mentors busy, professional and self-employed moms who crave more calm, joy and success. Through The Mom Oasis programs and coaching, she empowers women to use "peaceful strategies to find more time, keep your sanity, and thrive in work and at home". Be sure to watch her video: "Calm in 30 Seconds" at and receive The Mom Oasis Calm & Joy Kit! You'll also discover how "being calm" can help you be smarter and even have more time and more money!

Source: EzineArticles
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