How to feel less overwhelmed?
Hello my dear listeners ! How are you doing today? How was your week? Did you miss me ? I took a couple of weeks of podcasting. It was an extremely difficult decision but in the end, it was worth it. I really needed to clear my head. Lately, I was struggling to find breathing space between my busy days. With school starting, mornings got busy between lunch making, drop offs, evenings too started to get away from me. I added too much on my plate. I was overwhelmed, stressed out and not enjoying the moments. That’s when I decided that I should step back a little and look at my schedule, my routine and my mindset more closely. I tried to offload many unimportant tasks. I took a short break from podcasting too, because I felt that I was not giving my 100% to my beloved hobby. I felt I am just creating the content to tick that Monday episode checkbox and that is not what I want from my podcast episode. I want it to motivate you, I want these episodes to bring joy to you. I want these episodes to help you start your week with positivity. I want to help you with these episodes. With an overwhelmed mindset, I was not enjoying the process and that started to show up in my episodes. I took several steps to overcome this constant overwhelmed feeling. Stepping back is just one of them but there are several other steps that helped me find my joy again. Today, I am going to share those steps with you. I am sure I am not alone. I am sure you must have faced this overwhelming feeling, this complete burnout feeling.
Take a step back
You feel overwhelmed with your chores, your decisions, your routines, your thoughts. Sometimes, you feel there is no way out of this constant nagging feeling that you won’t be able to find a way to a calm, slow pace day and it is true to the extent. When you are in the center of that overwhelming feeling, everything seems too difficult. It is always difficult to find the solution when you are stuck in the center of the problem. So, the very first step that you need to take is actually taking a step back. Look at your problem from a distance. Treat it as if you are trying to find a solution for your friend. It always helps me to write down all my problem areas on a piece of paper. It always gives me a perspective. Once you write down what exactly is troubling you, sometimes you realize that it was not really a big deal or in my case I realized I just had way too many things on my plate. I am studying for one of toughest exams. I know it will help me in advancing my career. I am restarting my journey towards better physical and mental health. I completely derailed my fitness journey in the past few months. I am working to get back on track and I want to dedicate at least an hour for workout and meditation. I want to bring better and more helpful content through this podcast. My responsibilities in my day job have been increasing exponentially for the past few months and of course, I have a home and family to take care of. I was juggling all these things in the background for the past several months. I was tired, overwhelmed but all this fatigue finally caught up to me and I was completely burnt out. I sat with my laptop open, not a single word was getting penned down from me. I was blank, I was just sitting there, wanting to write. I knew the topic, I knew the points but I was so tired and overwhelmed with everything on my plate that my fingers were not even moving to type even a single word. That is the time I decided to step back. I closed my laptop. Tears started rolling down my face. It was the first week since June 2020 when I had no episode to publish. I had time, I could have written, recorded but I was so exhausted that I felt as if I had no energy left even to lift my finger to type in the episode outline. I let my emotions take over me. I cried, I let myself feel all that emotional turbulence. It was not an easy thing for me to do, to let go of something that I love so very much dearly. But after a good half an hour cry session, I started feeling better. I took a quick bath, played with my kids, and had a nice coffee with Rushi. I was feeling so gloomy and dark but after letting myself feel all those emotions, I felt as if there was a nice rain. Rain cleared all that gloominess, darkness, muddiness and the sky is again blue and bright.
Feel the feelings
Sometimes, it is really important to feel your feelings. If you keep on shoving those thoughts and feelings then there is a high chance that you will have an outburst. Rather than shoving those feelings and pretending that everything is okay, let yourself know that it is okay to feel sad, it is okay to feel disappointed, it is okay to feel defeated. You are a human being. You are bound to have all sorts of emotions. Acknowledging your emotions, your problems, your worries is the first step towards freedom from your overwhelm. Step back and look at you with empathy. You are doing the best you can. You are trying everything in your capacity to keep that house in order. You are trying the best you can to juggle between work and home. You are doing the best you can to keep calm and play with your little one when you know that there is a pile of dishes waiting for you in the kitchen sink. You hide all that stress, all that anxiety so everyone around you is happy and taken care of. You shove those feelings of overwhelm and tiredness deep down in your heart that nobody not even you get a glimpse of what you are really going through. Why? Why my friend? Let those tears roll down, let those emotions come out. Let your words tell the real story. Let your emotions get a voice of their own. Don’t be afraid of telling your partner or your kids that you are really tired. You are exhausted, you are overwhelmed and you need help. Look at your own self with love and empathy. Tell yourself that you care about her. Tell yourself that you are loved. Promise yourself that you will find a way to help her. Acknowledge all those emotions first my friend. Embrace your vulnerability. It is not your weakness rather it is the biggest strength that you possess.
Pen it down
Once you acknowledge your emotions, try to find what’s actually wrong? Is this gloomy feeling just a matter of time or a constant companion? What could be the reason? Is it because something is bothering you? Is it because you are stressed? Is it because you went through some major life change or is it because you have just too many things to tackle in a day? Please remember one thing I am not talking about depression or any severe anxiety issue. As I have said many times, I am not a professional and I don’t want to pretend to be. So, I am not the correct person to advise anyone about depression or anxiety. It is best handled by a professional. I 100% believe in talking to experts when it comes to your mental health. Today, I am talking about the overwhelm caused by stress. It could be because of over scheduling, over working, constant busy lifestyle. I am talking and giving tips from my own personal experience. For me actually tackling the problem head on works the best. Writing down all the things that are bothering me gives me a clear picture. This helps me prioritize.
Prioritize and let go
My family, my job, podcast and my fitness are my priorities in that same order. But there are so many side tasks that show up on my doorstep regularly and they deviate me from my priorities and leave me overwhelmed. Social gatherings, kids birthday parties, social commitments, I love to celebrate my kids birthdays and make them feel special. But I get completely bogged down by planning, baking, return gift shopping and so many small tasks to bring that celebration to life. All my priorities go for a toss. Same thing for a social gathering and having guests over. I love to have friends over. But that comes with a lot of cooking, cleaning the home before and after, making sure that everyone is taken care of and enjoying the evening. It takes a toll on me. So, does that mean we should completely cut down on all the things that do not fit in our priority list? No, absolutely not. I love having friends over but what I love the most is spending time with them, chatting with them, having a hearty conversation. If these are the real highlights of having friends over then can I cut down on something that makes me overwhelmed to have guests? Can I get food from outside? Can I suggest potlunch? Can I let go of my idea of a perfectly clean house before every guest arrives? Letting go of things which do not really contribute to your highlight of that event, will help you become less overwhelmed. I love baking a cake for my kids’ birthday party. That is my highlight of the event. So can I let go of making everything else homemade? Can I have the party in the park rather than at home, this will reduce the stress of cleaning the house. Cleaning in the park is much easier, isn’t it? Letting go of unimportant chores, tasks is the crucial step in reducing your overwhelm.
Mindfulness Technique (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
Another thing that really helped me ground myself is doing a regular mindfulness practice. Have you heard about 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 practice? I read about it in a book - 8 weeks guide to mindfulness. This technique helps you center yourself in the midst of chaos. When you are in the thick of a problem, nothing seems to help. You can not really step back or write down or let go. Those things work once you are calm and the storm has passed. But what about when you are in the midst of that storm? What to do when you feel absolutely no way out and your emotions have taken over you. This is the time when this technique helps a lot. It takes only a couple of minutes to follow this technique but I guarantee you that after those few minutes, you will be in much better spirit to follow the steps we discussed before. So, what you need to do is look around and name five things you can see, right now, from where you are. Then you listen and name four things you can hear. Then you notice three things you can touch, like the pages of a nearby book or the feeling of your feet on the carpet. Next come two smells: Breathe in the pages of a book or the scent of the candle you lit or the nice scent of perfume you are wearing. Finally, name something you can taste: a sip of cold water will do. Do you know what this technique does? It grounds you, it grounds your senses. It brings you to the current moment and most importantly, since it asks you to count, for a brief moment you focus on counting rather than all those turbulent, overwhelming thoughts that you were having a few moments ago. You can not stop the waves of thoughts that are coming and going through your mind but you can certainly find ways to navigate through those thoughts. You need to understand that you can do anything but you can not do everything. You need to step back, prioritize, let go of a few things. Stop that multitasking, it is making you more anxious and more prone to overwhelm. Multitasking is a myth, it makes us feel productive but actually it slowly burns you out. You can choose to be less occupied, less busy, less stressed. You can choose your thoughts. You can choose not to be overwhelmed by offloading from your plate. Don’t run behind perfection, rather enjoy the way you are built. Enjoy the small things in your life, rather than waiting for something big to happen. I know it is hard to focus on light when you are struggling in the dark but that is why we have a sense of community, that is why we have friends. Don’t shove your feelings deep down, share it, ask for help. There is nothing wrong in asking for help, however small or big it is. Let’s all stop living in the shadow of stress, let’s break that barrier. When we try to figure out everything at once, that’s when we start feeling overwhelmed. Just take a deep breath. You are much stronger than this, You are much wiser than this. Surround yourself with the people that bring the best in you and not the stres in you right? On this note, just remember my friend, No matter where you are in life, celebrate it. It's a product of your growth or it is a place that will help you grow. So, enjoy this moment, live life to the fullest..