Being overwhelmed is seriously stressful And just like any other kind of stress it elicits one of three responses. Fight, flight or freeze.
When you’re overwhelmed and in fight mode you might find yourself snapping at your kids, fighting with your husband of ranting about how annoying your boss is. Everyone will irritate you more because “Don’t they know how busy/stressed/exhausted/worried you are right now?”
When you’re overwhelmed and in flight mode you might find yourself distracting yourself with other tasks – remember when you had an essay due at school and suddenly tidying your room became a really enticing task? I still see that happen with me from time to time. I will do anything but deal with the complex challenge in front of me. Laundry, hoovering, scrolling through facebook all suddenly take over to distract me from dealing with what needs to be done.
Freeze mode is when that overwhelm literally paralyses you. I remember this feeling from when I had really young babies. It felt like I had SO MUCH to do at home, and I wanted to get all the things done at naptime. Then naptime would arrive and I would spend so long panicking about where to start that I would get nothing done and baby would wake up leaving me feeling even more stressed out for not achieving anything in that precious time.
NONE of these responses is helpful to you. They are protection mechanisms that actually aren’t serving you in anyway. In fact they may be doing you harm. In fight and flight mode our heart rate increases, blood pressure increases and the immune response switches on, ready to fight off infection from injury. All good things in the moment you’re being attacked IF you can switch them off later. If you can’t switch off these stress responses it leads to chronic high blood pressure, inflammation and too much cortisol (which is the hormone responsible for excess tummy fat!)
To move forward you’ve got to take control of the feeling of being overwhelmed so you can see clearly, plan your tasks and move forward with whatever goal you have in mind.
Whether you want to start getting healthier and you’re totally blown away by the myriad of ‘health advice’ from Dr Google, friends, family, and Facebook;
Or you’re attempting to get on top of the house work, wondering whether to tackle laundry mountain, empty the dishwasher, clear up the lego or descale the kettle;
Or if you’re to get all your business systems in place… yeah I’ve spent my fair share of time distracting myself from getting my marketing system set up by agonising over pretty scheduling apps.
How to take control of the overwhelm in two simple steps
The first thing to do is to prioritise. Take a big, deep calming breath, look at that to do list and pick one or two things that are your most important tasks. That’s ALL you’re going to focus on now. I would do this first thing in the morning when my girls were babies. I would look at my big, long to do list and choose ONE THING I would achieve when they had their nap. Just one thing. Once that was done, I would make a cuppa and enjoy some peace. If they were still asleep after that I might get another task done as a bonus.
Secondly, you’ve got to put your blinkers on. WTF does that mean?? Well, we are living in an age of information. We can get advice and information at the drop of a hat (or the drop of a post on Twitter or Facebook) and most of the time that advice is conflicting. And where does that leave you? Confused and overwhelmed. You have to choose one or maybe two people to listen to. No more. Shut out all the other voices because they will confuse you.
Generally I suggest having one go-to friend/family person and an expert. A great example of this is when my eldest daughter was struggling with her sleep. I googled, I read around, I asked everyone why she wouldn’t sleep and they all had valid and helpful tips. But nothing really worked. I could have gotten overwhelmed but I chose to first talk to my Mum. She’s my go-to person for most things parenting-related. When we reached the end of our experience and knowledge I called in an expert. Now, I’m sure everyone else had good advice. But snippets of ideas from all different people isn’t helpful. A single proven method, that me and my husband implemented, with a coherent strategy, with someone holding us accountable – worked. Right away.
This goes for anything you are trying to achieve. Whether you want to help your little person sleep better (speak to my friend Sofie), eat better (I can help with that), get your business systems set up (I can help with that too) or build a car (I definitely cannot help with this!) you need to follow just one or two people’s advice. Get your blinkers on to shut out anything else.
Now you have your one important task, and you have shut out all the well-meaning but unhelpful advice on how to do it, you can get really clear on what your next step is and JFDI baby… Just F-ing Do It!
If you’re still feeling totally overwhelmed and you need some support with these two steps I would love to help. You can schedule a free Wonder Woman Breakthrough Session here and together, we will get really clear on what your most important next step is, and how to get started. At the end of the call, if it feels right I will share with you how we can work together to reach your big goals.
How does that sound? Good? Then click here to schedule your free session.