Overwhelm can drown out productivity. It makes us feel like we’re drowning in a sea of responsibilities. Ironically, we are usually overwhelmed when we are very excited about something. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to overcome overwhelm to reach our goals.
Feeling overwhelmed is burdening disconcertedness surfacing with divergent engagements as optimistic anticipation arises while structuring endeavors.The Living Expeirience of Feeling Overwhelmed: A Parse Research Study
When we’re planning something new and exciting, the sheer volume of emotion and number of things that “need to get done” set off our stress response. We get so caught up in trying to plan our lives and get everything done, that we spend our lives running to fit into the plan. In the process, we also end up making mountains out of molehills.
Why Does ‘Getting Things Done’ Stress us Out?
Society largely views being productive as a measure of success. We are only “allowed” to take a break once we accomplish our goals. This puts a lot of pressure on us to continuously perform at our very best. Imagine we are all paddling water in a massive pool. While we’re paddling, we’re keeping our arms above water to juggle everything we have to get done. So when we’re getting ready to start something new like a blog or studying, we end up adding another ball to our juggling act. And all these fragile orbs that we lend our energy to just HAVE to keep moving, otherwise we fail in some way.
But do we really fail? Is success spending all of our time on keeping things going? When do we actually get to take a break and just float for a bit?
The overwhelmed persons answer to that is “never mind that, I need to get going otherwise nothing will get done!”
Do you ever feel like that? Incapable of giving yourself even the smallest break for fear of failing at some imaginary task list you have created to be able to reach your ultimate goal?
Stress Is The Opposite Of Success
While excitement causes overwhelm, the stress it creates actually takes the joy out of getting things done.
When we’re constantly stressed, we’re not functioning to the best of our abilities. We get high doses of cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, and very little serotonin, the happy hormone. The result: we’re constantly running on an adrenaline rush and it feels like we’re getting nowhere because the happiness is literally sucked right out of us.
Our hearts keep racing and our bodies don’t get a break to rest, refuel, and revitalize. Our physical and mental health deteriorates and after a while just getting out of bed in the morning becomes too much to handle. Basically, we can’t stay afloat to juggle any balls if we have zero energy to paddle with.
Is Overwhelm Increasing Your Stress?
Just going with the flow and chilling out all day every day isn’t exactly healthy either. A little bit of stress is always healthy, it keeps us moving and working toward our goals. But too much stress leads to overwhelm, which causes anxiety, depression, and a whole host of physical symptoms (which depends on how your body handles stress, we’re all different, so it manifests differently for each individual).
Take The Stress Test
Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to figure out how stressed you are. Answer each Yes (2), No (0) or Sometimes (1):
- Are you struggling to connect with people you already have a good relationship with?
- Are you overthinking the little things, or struggling to think at all?
- Do you struggle to feel your emotions, or do they tend to rush upon you all at once?
- Do you lack focus? Does your energy feel scattered?
- Are you over- or under-reacting at weird times? Are you unsure of your intentions and losing touch with your purpose?
- Do you feel the need to be applauded for your efforts or congratulated on your success, otherwise it isn’t real? As if your success depends on how successful other people think you are?
Take a look at your answers. The quickest way to tell if you’re extremely stressed is if you didn’t answer “sometimes” at all. When we’re stressed, we tend to think in black and white. Either something is or it isn’t, we don’t have time to figure out if maybe sometimes things might be slightly different.
Adding up your points will give you a clearer idea of your stress levels.
NOTE: This isn’t a “scientifically approved stress calculator”, but it will give you a general idea of your level of overwhelm):
8-12 Stress Points:
If you have 8 points or higher, you’re quite stressed. The higher the points the closer you are to complete overwhelm. If you find yourself struggling to cope, it might be time to talk with someone you trust about how you’re feeling. You could also seek out professional help to work through feelings of overwhelm. Learn more about how I can help by visiting my services page.
Taking time to manage your stress and overcome overwhelm can help improve the quality of your life and will actually increase your productivity, leading to less stress in the long run.
4-7 Stress Points:
If you have between 4 and 8 points you might be a little too stressed from time to time, but generally, you cope quite well. When you feel like the scale tipping toward overwhelm, it’s time to start doing something about it.
Every time you catch your stress in time, you prevent stress from spiralling out of control and severely impacting the quality of your life. Observing yourself and overcoming overwhelm early creates neural pathways in your brain that strengthen over time, increasing your ability to deal with stress more effectively.
0-3 Stress Points:
If you have 3 points or less you may not be stressing enough. I know!!! Sounds crazy right?… Stress is helpful in the sense that it stimulates and motivates us get up and do things. If you find yourself having less and less ambition, this could indicate that you’ve lost your sense of purpose in life.
If you feel like you’re stuck and nothing is motivating you, you may want to work at cracking that shell and getting back on track toward making the most of your life. Book a time to talk with me about how to reboot your drive.
5 Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress:
1. Take. A. Break.
Having a nap might be just what your body needs to get out of the stressed state it’s in.
Yoga or another form of exercise you enjoy can also kick you back into rest and restore mode and overcome overwhelm. Allow yourself some time to float.
2. Write it Down
If you struggle to “switch off”, make a prioritized list of things that need to get done.
3. Narrow it Down
Cross out anything that you really don’t want to do. Sometimes we say we’ll do things to keep other people happy. The things that aren’t important to YOU should not be on YOUR list.
4. Balance Chores
Some things just need to get done. Whether we like it or not, chores are important. But that doesn’t mean you need to be the one doing ALL the chores ALL the time. Balance more and less fun activities throughout your day and…
“If you want something done right…” – NOPE! Stop right there! If you want to be a healthy human being you need to accept that you cannot do it all and that asking for help is more than “okay”, it’s healthy!
It’s good to have a healthy amount of passion fuelling our lives. It’s also very easy to get overwhelmed.
Incorporating healthy stress busters into our everyday routines can prevent overwhelm. We all know that.
But sometimes the panic attacks come without warning and it’s all downhill from there… Allowing ourselves to float, prioritize, balance, and delegate can save us from drowning in the sea of uncertainty.
Reference: The Living Experience of Feeling Overwhelmed: A Parse Research Study. Condon BB(1). Author information: (1)Professor of Nursing, Briar Cliff …https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24951523
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