Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed. And I said to myself, “Self, you help others with productivity. What would you tell me to do to escape the awful, paralyzing feeling?” And Self just had the same old answers, many of which involved food.
So I went to my network on Facebook and posed this question:
“How do you overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed?”
(I made it public, so you should be able to see it even if you aren’t my “Friend.”)
Here are some highlights:
SPH: sit down and read a fun book for 20 minutes, go back to the issue and break it down into tiny steps, the smaller the better, and MAKE A LIST so you can scratch out each step you’ve taken. Feels successful and forward moving!
MO: I second the list idea. That is the best way to organize yourself. Once you have listed absolutely everything, prioritize them. … I find once I no longer have to keep it all straight in my head I work much more efficiently.
JF: Focus on one item at a time…..do not look at the big picture. Break it down.
A big trend among the respondents, a little to my surprise, is to make a list to break the task down into smaller ones that are manageable. My list-making is not as peculiar as I thought–although my list are often white board diagrams.
Along with making lists, several respondents choose to “go to the mattresses” with the task that confronts them, and get more organized:
JR: Focus on one goal at a time. Tackle the simplest one first. It feels good to lick a problem or challenge. That gives you confidence, and less stress, to tackle the next one. Leave the big one for last. You should worry about the things you can control. Don’t worry at all about the things you can’t. A bit Dr. Phill-y, but it works.
WLK: Doing some research a few years ago I learned that space in my head is proportional to space on my desk. So, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I start by cleaning out my inbox, and cleaning off my desktop, and listening to and prioritizing my phone calls. The physical space gives me amazing mental range.
JPP: ”Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” (Dory from Finding Nemo)
Others suggested creative and therapeutic escapes.
MD: OK…no one probably wants to admit this…but sometimes a good bawl really helps!
SPH: Laughter also helps……
HP: Agreed — cry, then laugh, then make to do lists so everything is down on paper
LSC: Lists. Naps, if possible. Thirty minutes of escape, if possible.
SW: I make some alone time, find some YouTube music videos – Adele is my current favorite – and sing along at the top of my voice. Sometimes I also run the vacuum and dance with it. …
DR: Meditate, deep, slow breaths, or a good workout. …
FV: Jeju spa
KSM: I rearrange the furniture or get out to a big chunk of Nature for at least an hour!!!
NB: I believe in physical activity to help clear the junk from my overwlemed brain.
PE: Shamhala-style sitting meditation has worked the best for me,
I find it interesting to consider that my feelings of paralysis are my mind’s way of saying: “Abort the mission! Abandon ship! Escape!” The suggestions above allow for that escape and make it constructive. That’s great.
DJM: … I also do some venting to my husband about whatever is frustrating me – he has a great listening ear and it’s amazing what a release it is to verbalize what is overwhelming me, instead of keeping it internalized.
JKR: …and then tell 3 people that you are trying to accomplish some part/all of this task by XX date, asking them to keep you honest by checking on your progress–as in, Hey Nicki, how’s that list coming along?
Wow, externalizing the internal emotions, and asking for help to stay accountable, is a powerful combo.
And then there is stimulating the other senses:
JES: A glass of wine – of course, one can’t always do that in the middle of the day on the job! Or can they…..
DP: Bourbon. Neat.
EWS: … to straighten out my thought patterns, I bake. It’s organized, measured, with delicious results. Very therapeutic.
WLK: Can’t believe no one has said chocolate.
And my tongue-in-cheek favorite:
MH: I just throw my arms into the air, wailing and screaming “it can’t be done, it can’t be done!” Then I run out the door and plop down in the mud finishing with a sideways circle run on my right shoulder (just like Donald O’Connor did in “Singing in the Rain”).
…which is what I’m most likely to do on impulse, if I don’t consider the alternatives.
I’m so grateful for everyone who commented. (You really do read my Facebook posts, don’t you? -vb.)