This Post Could be Called "What to Do When Overwhelmed"

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The internet is a dripping, sopping sponge, absolutely saturated with how-to posts of every race, creed, and culture; of every hue, stripe, and color; of every language, viewpoint, and persuasion. These posts are well-written, clever, practical, logical, researched, and compelling.

Ironically, how-to posts proliferate even when the problem is “overwhelm.” They’re right there, offering their numbered lists, bullet points, and step-by-step guidance.

Today I am overwhelmed by the number of projects started but not finished, the sheer volume of stuff I have to care for and about, and the ongoing tasks that never feel complete.

A quick google of “how to deal with feeling overwhelmed” yields the following tips out of the 14,200,000 results offered. Overwhelm comes from

  • high expectations, 
  • taking on too much, 
  • putting pressure on self, 
  • being a perfectionist, 
  • needing too much control, 
  • and being an overachiever. 

In just one article, here are eight ways to overcome the feeling:

  • step away from the overwhelm; 
  • move, go for a walk, go get a coffee, 
  • go sit in another chair; 
  • answer the question what is the most important thing; 
  • write things down and don’t worry about margins, spelling or orderliness; 
  • give up control; 
  • ask for help; 
  • create boundaries; 
  • turn off the tv and computer; and 
  • make yourself a nice bedtime ritual.

Another article suggests these strategies:

  • accept the feeling of overwhelm, 
  • change or reframe overwhelm inducing thoughts, 
  • change your multitasking mindset; 
  • focus on right now, 
  • take a deep breath, and 
  • take action.

But sometimes, being in a place of overwhelm comes from persistent habits of incompletion, procrastination, fear of making decisions, unending interruptions, depression, and “too much” being just as objective as it is subjective. Maybe these ubiquitous lists are really just taking up more  space, becoming something else I choose to pay attention to, and aren’t even close to being the solution for me.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, to be honest. Life seems more and more complicated to me all the time, despite my not having to go outside our home to a job, despite three of my five children being adults who live elsewhere, despite years of simplifying and decluttering. This perception is what clues me in that this issue may be more deeply seated than going to sit in a different chair or creating a bedtime ritual.

Thankfully, I do have what I need to figure this out. It may be in the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back type format, and for sure it is going to be ongoing, for there are many steps that need to be taken. Probably the first step today, right now, is this blog. Taking the time to put down on “paper” these thoughts. Finding the space in my day, persisting through the interruptions and the external sensory stimulation. Allowing the natural incomplete status of many of the things I am responsible for. Letting go of the need to control so much. Being willing to just take whatever the next step is.

One thought on “This Post Could be Called "What to Do When Overwhelmed"

  1. Great thoughts; they speak to me. I have learned to leave many things undone. Remember our first coaching session when I shared expectations about things like all laundry being done and clutter picked up and I don't even remember what else? Baby steps, I am learning.

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