It’s not uncommon for someone to feel overwhelmed when things get hectic — family, work, hobbies, relationships, socializing. All things affect the way we operate in our daily life. But what exactly is being overwhelmed?
Overwhelmed as a definition is basically when one is feeling that there are too many things happening at once.
That is the core feeling of being overwhelmed. So what can you do when you are in that state of mind? How can you cope with everything when you feel like the world is crashing down on you? When you think that there is nothing you can do to stop it.
What is funny, is that you have precisely two forces in play here. Very simple forces that are so hard to control.
Forces that I’m talking about is your feelings and time.
So simple forces, yet so goddamn powerful and ever-changing. Time is something you can’t control. Not at the time of writing. And I just had to say that as I like to believe anything is possible. I’m one of those guys.
Feelings, on the other hand, you might first think that surely I can control those. But if you think a bit further, can you really? I mean, now as you are reading this, thoughts and feelings are running on your head and body like a wild beast on a hunt. Try to shut down your those. Can you do it?
I can’t. I mean, the only time I’m not conscious of my thoughts and feelings is when I sleep. That is the only time I don’t think and feel the feelings I want. So it’s super challenging to control your feelings.
The only way to do that is to focus on subjects that create different kind of emotion inside you.
That way you can somewhat control your feelings, right? But how do these forces are present in the case of being overwhelmed? Simple.
Time moves the things happening around you and when you see that happening you get a feeling of chaos which creates the feeling of overwhelming inside you.
So as we now know there are two forces in play here. We tackle those, and you are on top of things again.
1. Take control of the situation at hand
So there is chaos around you. You are feeling that nothing is in your control. Too many things happen at the same time, and you feel possibly even exhausted and drained from the situation.
What you should try is to step back and see if things are really that bad. If the stuff around really do fall apart or is there something that is only generated by your feelings and mind alone.
It could be that time is pushing things in action, and you feel you are not in the same bandwagon like the rest of the crew. Things happen, and you don’t have any clue what to do.
Breathe. Calm down. Close your eyes and breath deep again. And only after you have stopped. Literally stopped. You open your eyes and think what’s the first thing you need to tackle to make things a bit more pleasant for yourself. Do not think all of the things happening, just focus on one thing and take that one thing into control. Solve the issue at hand and only focus on that one issue.
Do not think anything other than that one thing. I know time moves on, but remember the time only flies when you let it fly.
Very few things happen when you close your eyes, take a deep breath and calm yourself down. Think about it. Few seconds just passed and you can now take control of the one thing causing one part of the chaos.
Repeat the same process, and at the end of the day, you have solved many issues, and the feeling of overwhelmed is fading away, and you can feel being in control again.
2. Create constraints to reduce options and be focused
While the world is rolling around you and you have zero control. Reduce the options, put constraints to your surrounding. There might be a situation where you should decide between 10 things. You should make a critical decision regarding your life, only to see too many options in front of you.
Constrain the list to have only a limited amount of options, out of those 10, ditch the 8 options and decide from two. Only focus on two and no more. The fewer options you have, the more likely you are to take action.
Your brain can’t handle too many options and evaluate all of the options at the same time. Two options are significantly more comfortable to evaluate as you can compare those two.
An easy example would be to buy a new phone. There are a massive amount of options. With so many options, you get overwhelmed, however when you reduce the list to only to viable options. You can easily compare the two phones you have selected for further inspection.
The fewer options you have, the easier it is to take action and decide. With decision comes conclusion which erases overwhelm.
3. Taking action
While you are overwhelmed, you might also feel paralyzed. You can’t move, you can’t decide, you can’t think straight.
This creates a situation where you don’t do anything. You don’t execute anything. And when you don’t execute you can’t advance, thus you won’t be erasing the feeling of overwhelming.
Take action if you want to progress. If you want to advance. Take action.
An action is a set of steps that create results. You can’t accomplish anything in life if you don’t take action. There are various types of action, and the amount of action you take creates a certain amount of results.
A massive feeling of overwhelming needs a massive amount of action.
4. Create an action list
If you want to get out of a situation that causes unneeded pressure to you. Create an action list. No. This is not a todo (Things To Do) list. Believe me, these lists are not the same.
An action list is a list that you measure by the results, not by “I did something” results. An action list is one where you have set an action to be taken with an end result that is countable. Something you can see or touch.
List the things that are causing you to feel overwhelmed, it could become a huge list, but that’s ok. You are after all overwhelmed by, and usually, more things are happening that you would like there to be.
When you have the list, schedule the list and make sure that the thing in your list is completed in the set schedule. Try to make the schedule tight and hard for yourself.
It’s funny that the work expands with the amount of time given. If it’s a new blog post, artwork, photography set, graphic design template, whatever it is.
Make yourself a tight schedule, almost impossible to follow. This way you will push yourself that much harder. Life is hard, be hard and be strong.
5. Procrastinating when you should be productive
I’m a big procrastinator. Like huge one. However, what I have been doing the past year or so is that even when I procrastinate (do stuff that I shouldn’t do), I try to do stuff that is productive. It might be hard to differentiate the message here but hear me out.
As mentioned procrastination happens when you are avoiding the thing you know you should be doing. For me that is sometimes writing a blog post, creating new artwork, or something else. When procrastination happens, I always do something that is productive in another field. Whether that is designing new graphics, improving my website, or optimizing SEO. Something that is productive even though not the exact thing I should be doing.
Procrastinating is something I’m cursed with and something I want to get out of.
If you think about it if you are procrastinating, how can you ever achieve anything that you should be achieving?
If you are not doing the things you know you should be doing, feeling of overwhelming won’t be going away.
Execute, do the thing you should be doing. Don’t avoid it. Nothing good comes out of it if you continue the habit of procrastination.
One of the best ways to stop time and outside forces is to focus on yourself and your feelings. Go deep in yourself and see what it is that is causing you the unneeded pressure. As we talked before, there are two forces. Time and feelings.
What if you could concentrate on your feelings and understand them a bit better. What could you achieve? Exactly. A lot. You see, feelings drive us forward and somewhat (read entirely) controls the decisions we make in life. When you tap into your feelings, you stop the time inside you. You can collect yourself and focus once again.
Feelings that were wild and strong before are now more in your control. Now you can express those feelings outside and talk to your close ones. When you share your feelings, you can sense this burden leaving you. You feel like it’s outside of you and not inside you anymore.
Expressing feelings goes long way, and I consider that to be the best way to clear your mind. I like to talk about feelings, and every time I do that, it eases the anxiety I might have had before.
A Final Note
Being overwhelmed is a feeling you can always conquer. Remember the situation you live in is constant until you take action. Action creates results, and results change your future.
Results take you forward. Future changes when you are ready to work on it. Changing the state of mind or habits is not easy. It’s anything but easy. You always have a choice, and your decisions affect the way you live.
If you want to change the way you live and feel. Change your approach, become present and focus on the things that matter. Become aware of your thoughts, thoughts affect feelings, and by changing your thoughts, you conquer overwhelm.