19 Nov Managing The Feeling of Overwhelm
I feel like a lot of us have so much on our plate.
It’s like we keep going through the buffet of life adding more and more to our plate. Then we sit down and realize the number of things that we have in front of us is more than we’re ready for.
That’s been the season of my life during the past couple of months.
I was laughing with a friend that I’m too blessed to be stressed. I’m too excited to be weighed down by everything on my plate. This is what I’ve worked for and I love doing it.
However, it’s also hard not to have days where I wake up and look at everything on my plate and not feel overwhelmed.
So the last couple of months I’ve been figuring out how to prioritize. How can I manage everything on my plate, knowing that I’ve bitten off maybe more than I can chew in one bite?
You’ve probably heard me say before that the way we eat an elephant is the same way we eat a donut: One bite at a time.
Most of us look at an elephant and try to take it down in one single bite instead of in teeny tiny ones, just like we would a bag of donut holes.
Overwhelm Is Real
I understand the feeling of overwhelm and the burdens that you have with work, your family, and everything you’re responsible for.
The feeling of overwhelm is real.
For a lot of people, it will ultimately break them if they focus so much on the weight of what they’re trying to carry and not the bites. If they let the weight slow them down until they eventually give up.
But I don’t want that for you!
I hope that you take a similar approach as I have for the last few months.
- Take your days, one day at a time
- Ask yourself, “What is my real priority?”
I’ve learned that my stress levels and anxiety gets high when I start focusing on the future. When I start worrying about next week, next month, or what’s going to happen a year from now.
When I let my mind go down that road, the overwhelm gets heavier. The anxiety ramps up and the fears start to creep in because there are so many variables. And I take my focus out of the present moment and put it into a future unknown situation that might never happen.
Be Where Your Feet Are
It’s important to focus on today.
One thing I try to do every morning is “be where my feet are.” Just live in today. Every time I feel that pull to think about tomorrow, I ask myself:
- What’s my priority today?
- Do I have the strength and energy to get through today?
- What can do today to keep my energy levels high?
- How am I being intentional about what I’m eating and drinking?
- When can I work out and get stronger?
I want my focus to be on the priorities of today instead of every single thing my brain thinks and says should be done immediately.
Try writing down three things you’re grateful for to refocus. Write down how you’re feeling, what you’re excited about, and what you have to do next.
Prioritize What You’re Working On
Every Friday I reevaluate all of my priorities and my to-do list. I then reorder it based on what my actual priority is.
A lot of times we get given tasks by other people who think they should our priority. However, if everything’s a priority, nothing is actually a priority. So I look at my list, identify the key priorities, and reorganize them. That way the following Monday, when I attack the day, I have the right list and not just an unorganized to-do list.
It’s a dangerous trap to follow your to-do list based on the order you wrote it instead of the order of importance.
In his book, Soundtracks, Jon Acuff explains that he’s built the affirmation into his life that says “I’ve left myself great things to work on tomorrow.” It’s his way of continuing the mindset of understanding that he’s not going to get everything done today.
You can know you have work to do tomorrow, while also knowing you made meaningful progress today.
However, this only works if you actually did put in work and meaningful progress today. Otherwise, it’s just procrastination.
A lot of people get paralysis by analysis. They look at everything they have to get done and feel so overwhelmed that they do nothing. But we’ve talked about this before, that the way you move a mountain is one shovel of dirt at a time.
It won’t feel like you’ve made a whole lot of progress after one or two shovels. But when you do it day after day and choice after choice, it begins to build you can see the meaningful progress you’ve made.
When You’re Overwhelmed
If you are stuck and feel overwhelmed or anxious, I want to challenge you to:
- Be where your feet are in this moment.
- Understand that you can’t change the situation you’re in unless you take action today.
- Remember that the only day you control is today.
What are you going to do today to put yourself in a better position tomorrow? What are your actual priorities?
Start to chip away at the real priorities, instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by the busy work.
You don’t have to lose to overwhelm. It doesn’t have to overpower you. And it doesn’t have to cause you to stay in neutral.
You can beat it, but you have to do it one day at a time.