Let’s talk about overwhelm. It’s been a hot topic in the aligned athlete facebook community this week. I want to start by asking you a question, what are your triggers for overwhelm?
This was a question I asked in the aligned athlete facebook community, and there were key themes which came up – uncertainty, lack of control, sensory overload, lack of time, lots of responsibilities, feeling pulled in every direction.
For me personally, my triggers for overwhelm are lack of control, lack of focus and purpose, putting everyone else’s needs above my own, not prioritising time for self care.
I’m going to ask you another question, this one might be harder to answer, what are your self-sabotaging beliefs? For example, I don’t have enough time, I’m not brave enough to make a change, I have no support, I don’t have enough money, who am I to do (whatever it is you want to do).
Again personally, a big self-sabotaging belief I have is that I need to work incredibly hard at the expense of my own self-care and relationships in order to be successful. Something I have taken years to shift. There’s this common held belief that to be seen to be successful (normally measured by the amount of money you earn) you have to work all hours of the day, be contactable at all time, have minimal sleep (personallyI used to be weirdly proud I could function on very little sleep), and then either have no social life at all (because you’re working) or party hard before heading back to the office for another long day of hard working.
I must admit I’m feeling tired even just writing all this! Whatever your self-sabotaging beliefs, it’s time to tackle them. The first step is acknowledging them, acknowledging the negative stuff you say to yourself. I’m sure you wouldn’t say any of this to your friends, your partner, your children, yet you probably talk negatively to yourself regularly, maybe even without noticing it.
The result of this self-sabotaging talk is that you can end up feeling overwhelmed and not getting anywhere fast. When we’re feeling overwhelmed like this it can become really easy to scroll on social media or binge on one more episode on netflix. In reality this doesn’t solve anything and can end up leading to us feeling more overwhelmed, a perpetual cycle.
Consider, where is the pressure coming from? Is it from yourself? Do you really have to get it done today, is it actually critical or is it OK for it to get completed next week or say in a month? Do you give yourself unrealistic deadlines? I do this, I might only have 2 spare hours in a day and I’ll set myself deadlines to fill out and submit a funding application, reply to emails, do my accounts, throw in some yoga and meditation too. I get to school pick up and I feel insanely overwhelmed because I haven’t got half the amount of the things I planned to do, in reality I will have got halfway through that funding application.
First of all you need to get clarity. What is it that you want? I often go back to core feelings, consider how you want to feel in the different areas of your life, What does your ideal life look like? Who is in it, what are you doing? What does it feel like, sound like. The more sensory you can get with it the better. Remember the brain can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imaginary, you’re more likely to take inspired action if you can almost feel that life you want to live.
Next you need to make a decision. What are the steps you can take today or tomorrow which can help you get closer to your ideal life? I’m reading Tim Ferris’ book the four hour work week at the moment and he hits upon this, don’t think in terms of some long-term goal which may or may not happen. Get clear on your dream and decide on tangible steps that you can take today, tomorrow, every single day.
The hardest part is just getting started. Take this as a sign to get clear on what you want, and take that first step.
Pareto’s 80/20 rule can really help in this context of overwhelm – 80 percent of the outcomes result from 20 percent of the inputs. Make a list of 10 things you most spend your time on. Circle the 2 that move you closer to where you want to be. It doesn’t mean that you drop all responsibilities, the house still needs to get cleaned, the kids (and you) still need to be fed, but it might help you to delegate, could you hire a cleaner, a VA to help with necessary crap? This can free up your time to be spent taking inspired action towards where you want to be.
Consider what brings you the most joy, which 20% of where your time is spent brings you the most joy? Prioritise these aspects of your life. The same goes for negative energy, consider which 20% of your life brings you the most pain, cut this out (this includes people, which I know is so much easier said than done, but if you can, distance yourself from those that bring negative energy into your life).
How you tackle overwhelm and taking steps to your best life is completely subjective, taking action in the best way for you. Do you put on your cape and take on the goal head first, launching yourself into the situation. Or do you prefer a slow and steady wins the race approach, baby steps. There’s no right or wrong way, it’s all down to what works for you.
Schedule specific time to take action and also time for yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, keep hydrated. If you don’t take care of yourself then forget everything I’ve said, you can’t be productive when you’re tired and lethargic. Speaking from experience here. I’ve had a cold for the past few days, as much as I found it difficult, I took some time off, focused on self-care, didn’t push on with work, slept when I was tired. The result is I’ve come back still feeling sniffly I must admit, but much better than I was, and my mindset is in a much better place, and I’m much more productive as a result. So I lost a few days working, but I gained a few days of self-care which is no bad thing.
Remember who is in control, you have control over your own thoughts, feelings and actions. You have 100% got this. Don’t look at your tasks as overwhelming and impossible. Break it down, get clarity on where you want to head, what you are focusing on right now, what small steps you can take today and tomorrow to get you there. In another post I’ll talk about 90 day planning, but for now, break it down, small steps each day.
I hope you’ve found this useful, as always I’d love to hear your thoughts, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave a Reply