I’m So Overwhelmed!!

I'm So Overwhelmed!!

Originally published February 9, 2016

I’m So Overwhelmed!!
I can’t tell you how many times in a day I hear the phrase, ‘I’m so overwhelmed,’ from clients, friends, even in my own head!  It’s not always those exact words. Sometimes it’s, I have so much to do, I’m so behind, I can’t keep up, I’m so busy.  However we express it, the basic message is still the same. 
One definition of overwhelm is to “give a person too much of something.”  That something can translate into too much work, too many tasks on the to-do list, too many emails, too many family responsibilities, too many places to be, too many bills, too many ‘bad’ things going on, too many voices in my head telling me it’s too much! It’s just all TOO MUCH!! 
What I’m finding so interesting, is it isn’t always that we are overwhelmed by ‘bad’ stuff…ie: debt, boss, responsibilities, worry, things to do. Overwhelm can also be caused by having too much of what we do want.  Too many opportunities, too many choices, too many experiences we want to have.  
Truth be told, this is what I am experiencing right now!  And quite frankly, even as I type this, I want to kick my own butt! How can we feel overwhelm when so many perceived ‘good’ things are coming our way?
With the feeling of overwhelm, whether it is being caused from our perspective of too much ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ it clouds our mind, keeps us from being present, and for me, it can shut me right down. (Thank goodness for NCIS marathons!)
So what are we supposed to do now?
No matter what is causing your overwhelm, (It’s actually your thoughts around it and not the circumstances, but we don’t have time here to go into that!!) we actually CAN get a handle on it to move forward consciously.  
1) Stop and breathe.  Yes, most of us breathe regularly without even thinking about it, but our breath becomes shallow under stress.  Taking a moment to connect to your breath and slowly breathe in and out a few times brings you back to the present moment and can help clear your head.
2) Get it down on paper.  Whatever works for you, pen to paper, fingers to keys, if we’re keeping it all in our heads, no wonder you’re experiencing overwhelm.  Get it out of your head to begin somewhere.
3) Prioritize.  One of my favorite books about this topic is Steven Covey’s, First Things First.  It helps us understand what is and isn’t important and what is and isn’t urgent. Understanding what is important to you (try completing a values assessment, that really helps you understand what drives you!) will help you be able to prioritize.  By the way, if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
4) Delegate.  What can you delegate?  This doesn’t just mean in the workplace.  What can you delegate at home…to the kids, significant other, friends, family.  What can you farm out…ie: hire a cleaning service, a tax accountant, a personal assistant. What can you simply let go? (I’m pretty sure there is no loss of life that I never got my Christmas cards ordered and mailed! Felt good to let it go! Yes, you may all begin to sing now!)
5) Set boundaries.  Did you know it’s okay to say no? Well, it is! I know, I know, you have your super hero cape tucked away under your shirt! But we DON’T have to do it all!!  We also don’t have to over-explain ourselves  when we do say no.  Start practicing this.  When you can begin to identify if you are saying yes out of guilt, fear or pressure, these are the first items to begin practicing no. Baby steps will get you setting healthy boundaries before you know it!! 
6) Decide what you want...Really. Bottom line, understanding what you want and why you want it can help you with all of the above steps.  You might think this would make more sense as step 1, but when you are experiencing overwhelm, it is challenging to know what you do actually want.
7) Stop choking!  Now that you have identified what you want, have a priority list, and are NOT trying to do everything, move something forward by taking bite-sized manageable pieces.  Oftentimes, the overwhelm comes from looking at the whole big picture. 
As I put this into practice in my own life, (shout-out to my  iPEC Jersey Mod 2 class for the coaching!), it’s amazing how quickly the perception of overwhelm can be changed, because it is just that…our current perception.  We must be very clear, no matter what’s going on outside of us, the overwhelm is coming from within and only we can change that. I know, it’s so much easier to blame others. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re giving your own power away if you are looking to others to blame or change it for you. Like everything, this is a practice.  Let me know how it goes!
Here’s to releasing the overwhelm and harnessing your bliss!
Lesley Picchietti, CPC, ACC, ELI-MP
© Inspire Bliss Coaching and Consulting 2016
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