Overwhelmed?

21 Aug

overwhelmed : The word Everything on a To-Do list on a dry erase board to remind you of your tasks, priorities, goals and objectives Stock Photo

“Overwhelm” is increasingly common as demands on human attention increase exponentially. The human brain just wasn’t designed to handle the environment we inhabit. For the vast majority of world history, human life—both culture and biology—was shaped by scarcity. Food, clothing, shelter, tools and pretty much everything else had to be farmed or fabricated, at a very high cost in time and energy. Knowledge was power, and it was hard to come by; for centuries, books had to be copied by hand and were rare and precious. Even people were scarce: Friends and relatives died young. This kind of scarcity still rules the world’s poorest regions. But in the developed world we face the bizarre problem of excess. Yet our brains, instincts and socialized behavior are still geared to an environment of lack. The result? Overwhelm—on an unprecedented scale. Being overwhelmed is like a 20-foot wave crashing into you, repeatedly. Whatever the reason behind your overwhelming feelings, here are a few strategies to help.

Accept your anxiety.

Has fighting your feelings of overwhelm ever helped you erase them? Probably not. More likely, battling your emotions only boosted them. It’s ‘normal’ to experience some degree of anxiety when stressors are unfamiliar, unpredictable, or imminent. Think of acceptance as riding out a wave.

Change overwhelm-inducing thoughts.

Thoughts of not being under control or unpredictability are the backbone of overwhelm. It’s the unrealistic or unreasonable thoughts that spark our stressed-out reaction. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what we tell ourselves and learn to create helpful thoughts.

Let’s say you have a mile-long to-do list, and all you keep thinking is – I’ll never get this done. That’s a damaging thought that can lead to distress and anxiety. It paralyzes you from problem-solving and taking action. But remember that you’re not a slave to your ruminations.

Ask yourself -In what ways might this thought be inaccurate, unreasonable or unhelpful? Next, consider how you can think more realistically. Here, your goal is to generate alternative thoughts that will lead to positive emotions and behavior.

For instance, to revise the above overwhelming thought, I suggest these alternatives: I may not get it all finished today, but if I work on it or if I seek assistance, I will likely get it done; I know I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, but if I take a break, I may feel differently about this when I return; It seems overwhelming to me right now, but if I break it down into smaller parts, it may be more doable.

Change your multitasking mindset.

’Multitasking’ by definition implies that we are doing too many things at once. We have to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now ‘or else.’

Focus on right now.

When you’re consumed with what may or may not happen in several minutes or months, you can’t appreciate the here and now. Instead, schedule time to plan for the future, so you can breathe in the present moment.

Take a deep breath.

Deep breathing encourages our body’s relaxation response. Other calming and stress-reducing activities include progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery.

Take action.

To quell overwhelm, engage in an activity that you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading a book or taking a walk, and consider how you can solve the source of the stress that triggered your overwhelm in the first place.

I know that each of us has much to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the tasks we face. But if we keep our priorities in order, we can accomplish all that we should. We can endure to the end regardless of temptations, problems, and challenges. I believe faith is incredibly important because you will become overwhelmed with what’s happening and you will have waves of grief, but when you turn to your faith, I believe God will give you waves of grace to get through it.

peace : Peace concept - water drop Stock Photo

Walk daily with God at  your side!

Love,

Ed

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