5 Steps To Conquering OVERWHELM
20 days my friends. That’s all we have left until Christmas. Where’d all the time go??? There’s cookies to bake, presents to buy and wrap, recitals to go to, school parties to attend, church events, people to visit, family pictures, travel arrangements, etc and with all that busyness- OVERWHELM.
Sunday, I was sitting down at church and doing a mental review of the to-do list in my head and longer the list got the more anxious I was becoming. Has this ever happened to you? Especially at the most inconvenient times? It starts by thinking, “What’s going on tomorrow?” then your efficient brain says: Oh, this and this. Then this and this, oh and don’t forget ________. But it doesn’t stop there it just keeps going and going and going and going and going until you just feel entirely OVERWHELMED.
This was me on Sunday. I had the innocent thought of what’s happening tomorrow and whoa, did I get more than I bargained for. This week is a bit of a heavier load for us and and so the list seemed quite extensive and never ending. I could feel my breathe getting shorter and more in my chest than relaxed into my diaphragm. My heartbeat started to pick up a faster beat and I just felt anxious and with that…overwhelm.
Now before I knew how to process overwhelm I’d just suffer through it and I’d run around like a crazy person trying to get everything done and just feeling frazzled the whole time. But now, I’ve got some tools. I want to share them with you today to help you override OVERWHELM.
1.) BRAIN DUMP – You heard that right. You need to grab a sheet of paper or your phone and get ready to write and write and write. For a set time you’re just going to write. Nothing huge – 5 minutes maybe. You’re going to write down EVERYTHING that is going on in your head – EVEN if you repeat yourself. That’s okay.
Think of it like you’re cleaning out your purse. If you have or have had young kids then you’ll know the only way to really clean your purse to take the big things out and then dump and shake out the rest. Shake out all those crumbs, those tiny wads of paper they tossed into your purse without you knowing, the half chewed skittle, all that fun stuff that comes along with being a momma, right? Same concept here.
It’s really crucial here NOT TO JUDGE your thoughts. Here you’re just dumping. Don’t think about them – just write. Don’t analyze them here – just write.
2.) Separate the essentials from the non-essentials. Notice you thinking – Don’t judge it here still – you’re just being made aware of what your thinking is. I know this may sound strange but a most of the time we’re NOT aware of what we’re thinking because we’re too busy rushing around going from place to place – from this to that – that we don’t sit with our thoughts and realize what’s happening. This is the time to do that.
3.) Now decide what gets to stay. This is the part you look at all the stuff you just dumped out and what you’re want to keep – what’s necessary? What’s REALLY necessary??? Be truthful.
In your purse, this is going to be your wallet with your driver’s license, your keys, phone, etc. The big stuff first. Same here with your brain. What’s the most important to put back first?
Think, Okay these things are the most important. Remember, you never HAVE to do anything. There are things that take too priority like paying my mortgage. But again, I don’t even HAVE to do that. I want to because I really like my house and want to continue living here so I’m going to put that at the top of my list. Other things we WANT to put at the top of our priority list: my kid’s dance recital, the dentist appointment on Wednesday, etc. Write all these down. Only write in the essentials!
JUST THE BARE MINIMUM.
4.) Now we can look more closely at the other thoughts. The well intended, “it’d be nice” thoughts. These are nice but not necessary – most of the time the other person doesn’t’ even know about it, right?
I wanted to print, color, and laminate this Nativity Scene for my singing group. All week it was at the back of my mind and as I’d go through the week it was just sitting there and then at 11:00 at night I’d remember, Oh yeah! maybe tomorrow. Then Sunday morning came and I made other arrangements because that was just not happening.
But when there’s A LOT going on in your brain – enough for you to feel overwhelm – it’s time to look closely at the Essentials vs the Nice but NON-essentials. Really go through the rest of what’s on your list and look closely at WHY those things were in your head.
5.) Now that everything is organized and put into priorities – let’s look at all the dirty crumbs at the bottom of your brain. The drama attached thoughts. By that I mean the, “If I don’t do ____________ so in so is going to think ___________ about me.” It’s not necessary – it’s drama. Question those thoughts! Do you care what so in so thinks? Why are you really wanting to do that? Are you trying to prove something? By doing it, is it going to serve you? help you? or just add more drama? Does it need to stay?
By questioning these extra thoughts it’ll help put in perspective what’s necessary and what’s a time and energy waster.
We’re not looking at them to condemn or add more drama to them – we’re looking at them to become curious and aware of WHY they’re there in the first place.
Why do I feel the need to go to this event? Is it because I think they’re think something of me if I go? Or they’ll think less of me if I don’t? Am I doing this for the right reasons?
Too often our brain is going to attach meanings to things or stories that don’t need to be there and it creates extra clutter.
The brain dump is a thing of beauty – just like how nice it feels after you claim your purse back from that extra junk- your brain feels clean, prioritized, organized and that overwhelm dissipates – there’s no need for it – you’ve separated what NEEDS to stay vs what would be nice but the world won’t end if I don’t get to it stuff.
Overwhelm is an indulgent feeling – it’s not necessary. You need to write your thoughts down. Your brain will just recycle thoughts in your head over and over again until you stop and take a look at what’s really going on. Get it out on paper. As you write you’ll think, “Oh! I’ve got an appointment! Oh wait, I already wrote that down.” – but in your head – we don’t recognize that we just think of it as yet ANOTHER thing on the to do list ADDING to pile and creating OVERWHELM.
REMEMBER, your thoughts create how you feel! If you’re feeling overwhelmed you need to look at your thoughts! What are you thinking about that is creating this feeling?
1.) Get a paper and WRITE (or your phone)
2.) Separate your priorities vs the NOT so top of the priority list
3.) Decide what stays
4.) Look closely at the “nice to do but not essential” things to do. Can you wait on these? Are these really important and necessary to do?
5.) Analyze the crumbs. Why are they there? What purpose are they serving by being here? Do they need to stay? Why am I thinking that? Do I want to be thinking that?
Overwhelm can’t stay if you’re organized, prioritized, and confident in what you’re going to do. Overwhelm tells you there’s too much to do and you can’t do it all. But it’s JUST A THOUGHT. Organize your thoughts and you’ll realize – the list isn’t that bad after all.
This Christmas season give yourself the GIFT of not indulging in OVERWHELM. Simplify. Feel confident in your to do list and breathe easy, my friends!