I was speaking with a gorgeous coaching client of mine recently, who asked, “Fiorella, I feel so overwhelmed at the moment… everywhere I turn, somebody needs something from me… my husband, my children, my pets! I have an endless to do list that never seems to get done… what can I do to keep myself from losing the plot completely?!”.
This is a concern I come across all the time with my special tribe of clients. And I’d like to also state that this is why I do the work that I do. My goal and mission in life is to inspire people to find their centre i.e. a state of presence and grace, and regularly come back to it when life happens. I’d also love us to see wellness and self care as a necessity, not a luxury.
Below is a 5 step action plan, for those times when you may feel like the pressure of everything is pushing you into a state of complete overwhelm.
1. Be gentle with yourself
Never underestimate the power of a deep, cleansing breath. Whilst you’re coming back to your centre, remember to not be so hard on yourself. We all have the voice of ego in our head telling us that everything is ruined, nothing will ever be the same again, no one will ever love us, blah blah blah. But believe it or not… this voice actually has a purpose! It comes from deep within our basic survival instinct. If we push ourselves, or step outside our comfort zone, our ego does not like this one bit. Any steps toward change or self improvement makes it feel completely threatened.
Most of the wisdom we have been given around the ego tells us that it needs to be tamed, silenced or killed altogether. Now, this may sound like the strangest piece of advice, but I actually invite you to treat this voice like you would a small, frightened child. Tell yourself that these fears are warranted, that you have heard what they have to say. But it doesn’t need to be afraid, as you will venture forward with your very best interests at heart, on a path full of self love and care. You can even imagine yourself giving this aspect of your psyche a warm, secure hug. See how it responds…
2. Take a long hard look at your “to do” list
For the majority of my clients, and including myself, to do lists are endless. As are email inbox’s, piles of dirty dishes and laundry. But I’ll tell you a secret about them all – they will never end. Ever. You could stay up all day and night, 365 days a year and something will always need to be tended to.
I used to have a list a mile long every day of what I needed to work on for my business. Over time, I’ve come to drill down into it on a daily basis and pick 3-5 (max!) things that really need to be accomplished that day. It is far better to give a smaller amount of tasks your full attention, than attempt 20 with a completely scattered brain. This is where mindfulness and constantly reassessing your needs and priorities, moment by moment, comes into play. Scanning the list for who you can reach out or delegate to, is also crucial, which brings me to the next tip…
3. Seek support and understanding from those around you
This is as simple as it sounds. You don’t have to put a tonne of pressure on yourself to do everything alone. There is no shame in asking for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. At work, check in with your colleagues regarding your present workload. No one will know how you’re feeling unless you speak up. At home, ask those around you to pitch in and get the tasks done that we all like to avoid doing. In this instance, there is no truer saying than “many hands make light work”.
Delve even deeper and see if it’s not worth paying someone to help you. Perhaps a cleaner who comes into your home once a fortnight is actually worth the money to give you extra time during the day, and quality time at night. Or rather than going grocery shopping in person, doing it online and paying the delivery fee. These things may seem costly or unnecessary, but once implemented can make the world of a difference.
4. See how far you’ve already come
It can be hard to look at ourselves objectively at times, and only see how far we have to go. How much further we’d like to advance in our career, how much healthier we’d like to be, how much more money we’d like to save etc etc etc. But we rarely turn around and look back at what we’ve already accomplished.
This next tip requires a list of a completely different kind. In a journal, I’d like you to write down at least 5-10 things you’ve achieved in the last 12 months. Perhaps your eating habits have drastically improved. Perhaps you’ve finally started a yoga or meditation practice after always meaning to. Or perhaps you mended a relationship with a friend or family member, once and for all, and are moving forward into grace – together. These are all things to be celebrated. At this time of overwhelm, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for all your hard work, and see how you have overcome previous obstacles in your path.
5. Find time everyday for yourself, with yourself, by yourself
We all seem to be saying these days “I have no time anymore. I don’t have enough time. I need more time.” After repeating this myself like a mantra, I’ve finally come to realise that this just isn’t true. We always have enough time for what we really need to do. Steve Jobs once famously said “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
This is my most important tip for you. Take 5-10 minutes for yourself, everyday. Do what you love. Read a book, go for a walk, meditate, have a cup of tea in the garden, dance around the living room. Just be. In. The. Present. Moment. This time is you, filling up your own cup. This time is for you to have no where to go, nothing to do, and no one to be. If you can, perhaps gradually increase this time to 15 or 20 minutes a day.
Personally, I meditate for 20 minutes in bed, everyday as soon as I wake up. This is my ‘me time’. My husband takes our dog outside at this time, and the house is as quiet as a pin. He often makes a joke of “happy wife, happy life”, but it’s incredibly true. Finding the time to take care of yourself will make all the difference to a state of overwhelm, and bring you back to your centre.
How do you deal with a state of overwhelm?