Most of us feel overwhelmed sometimes. Some of us more often, some of us less often. However, no matter who gets overcome by this emotion, we all know how stressful this state can be, right? In fact, it can be quite crippling and limiting, as it keeps you in a somewhat frozen state.
I used to have this feeling a lot in the first few years of my business, as I was trying to do absolutely everything myself (a typical solo-preneur! ;) ). A few years into my business, I'm still no expert at handing tasks over, by no means. However, as I'm building my team, I love the growing space and empowerment I'm finding within myself. I more and more choose to focus solely on those tasks that help my business grow, on what I love doing and what I am good at; and let more and more of those tasks go, with which I'm really just wasting my time and that I'm better off delegating.
However, in all those years of regularly experiencing overwhelm, I've learned a fair share of techniques that can help a lot in overcoming this paralysing feeling. So, after being asked over and over again: "How do I best overcome overwhelm?" by my followers on social media, I'm sharing my 5 favourite steps with you today to do so.
First of all, have you ever noticed that when you're overwhelmed and stressed out, a part in you freezes?
Well, it makes sense, considering that stress kicks us into fight or flight response. I recently read a very fitting analogy:
Imagine you were running from a lion right behind you. Someone comes and asks you which colour to choose for your next ad. You'll be telling them to stop bugging you about that stuff right now, as you are running from a lion!
That's exactly how things work within our brain too, when we are stressed.
All our body's energy goes straight into our extremities (ie legs and arms etc), away from our digestive system (where we process stuff) and away from a cool, calm and focused brain.. This self-preservation method is made to make us run fast and protect us from immediate danger - unfortunately it gets overused in our society, which in turn leads to all sorts of troubles from gut issues (as not enough processing of food & situations takes place) to adrenal exhaustion/burn out symptoms, etc. And not to forget: a scattered brain that can't focus or remember things!!
So, if you have goals (and I'm sure, if you don't call them that, you have dreams you aspire to, which is much of a muchness in my eyes! ;) ) and you want to reach them, then you'll benefit from the following 5 steps to overcome overwhelm and be more productive instead:
1) Breathe out.
Did you notice you were holding your breath?
When we are stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, we tend to hold our breath. It's like we are worried that we are going underwater and might drown.
What happens in the body is, we deprive it from oxygen, resulting in muscle contraction and tension. When we breathe deeply however, we allow oxygen to reach all our body's cells, which in turn releases muscle tension and relaxes us.
So next time you feel uptight, tense and stressed, consciously breathe out.
2) Reclaim yourself
Your kids, your partner, your job, your friend, your parents,… You name it. All of them carry a part of your thoughts and attention. We can spread ourselves very thin with our energy, and sometimes that person in the supermarket making yucky comments or the guy walking down the street that yelled at the other one, all those things whirling around in our head, can take a lot of attention span away from us. Consciously reclaim your thoughts and cut all the extras out. Everything that you are experiencing is some form of your own creation. Make it first about you and shift what needs to be shifted within you. Your surroundings will follow.
This is often easier said than done.
I like to start with a bit of mindfulness. Focus on the present moment with all your cells. What can you hear around you? What scents do you smell? What sensory stimuli are you feeling on your skin?
I find it helps to imagine that you want to tell a loved one who is far away all about your very moment. To focus on all your senses helps you to remember every little detail of it, so you can then regurgitate it so to speak.
This exercise is great to get you really present in the moment and initiates the relaxation process.
You can supercharge this process by holding a couple of Reflexology Points at the same time. Download my guide to the best 2 Reflexology points to reduce stress & nourish yourself here now and get started. It's free!
4) Pay attention to your thoughts
Have you listened in on your thoughts? You know, those that you hear when you want to go for your dreams and goals? The ones with which you all of a sudden feel deflated by and that that make you stop and doubt?
Ok, let's get a hold of them!
Write down on a sheet of paper 3-10 things you keep telling yourself whenever you want to take a step towards your dreams.
- "There is way too much to do!" Overwhelm is a biggy! And it can freeze you on the spot if you're not careful.
- "How could I ever do this?" When the goal to achieve seems to be too big and you feel like it would involve a whole massive life change, ie selling up the house or breaking up your relationship.
- "Who am I to think that I can do this?!" Worthiness issues. Self-doubt. Holding yourself back because of fear of greatness & being visible.
Believe me, these are all super common thoughts that we all have! The problem is that they keep us stuck, frozen, frazzled, in overwhelm and self-doubt mode.
Awareness is the first step to change.
5) Flip your limiting stories
After you've finished writing your 3-10 thoughts that are really limiting stories, it's time to flip them!
Next to each thought that you wrote down, find a new one that's actually more true to where you're at and where you want to be.
- "I don't actually want to do all of this in one day. I'm choosing to focus on those steps that are of greatest priority right now and do them well"
You don't need to do everything at once. If you feel that this is you, focus on those steps that really get you further and do them now, rather than getting lost in the length of your to do list. So action rather than overwhelm which results in inaction!
- "This dream might seem huge, but I choose to break it down into baby steps." It's never all or nothing. There is always a grey zone and everything can be broken down into little bite size steps. You will never reach the top of a mountain, if you don't start making the first steps at some stage (unless you get dropped off by a helicopter of course ;) ). So break it down!
- "I am worthy of living my dream. If I live my passions & my purpose, I'll lift people up around me and ultimately inspire change in the world." There is no point in keeping yourself stuck and limited, just because others don't live their dreams. Remember, there is also some that do follow their dreams - and usually they inspire others around them to do the same!
Did you follow the steps? Then you most likely feel much more relaxed and inspired to take action towards your goals by now!
Let me know in the comments below, which aspect of productivity (and the lack of!) has been holding you back the most: General stress/overwhelm or negative stories - or both?
And if you’d like some professional support with crystal clarity of your best next steps to take, to get you closer to your dreams and goals, and simultaneously free yourself of stressful sabotage patterns that keep holding you back, then book in for a session with me. Sessions are available online (mentoring & clearing sessions via zoom video call) or see me for an all encompassing Premium Reflexology and Feet Reading Session at Mount Coolum (every Wed, Thur and Sat) or Eumundi (every Fri) at the Sunshine Coast.
Here is to your calm, empowered and on track state!
The World needs your gifts and footprint that only you have.