Overwhelm doesn’t usually happen overnight. It can creep up on you over days, weeks, months or even years. It comes in tiny layers of stress, building in your mind and showing itself sometimes in physical form. That stiff neck and shoulders you’ve had all week. A recurring headache. General lethargy and loss of interest in your favourite hobbies.
Left untreated, overwhelm can lead to more serious physical and mental conditions. So, if you see signs of overwhelm in yourself or in your family, friends, colleagues or customers, then you may have an opportunity to act, intervene, assist or remove the cause of the stress and overwhelm.
Remember, it’s ok not to be ok.
Everyone has different tolerance levels. What seems easy to you may be difficult for someone else. While you learn how to do something new quickly, it might take someone else lots of practice. This can vary from social skills to practical tasks. It might be daunting attending a networking meeting, or filing your tax return, or driving on a motorway.
Everyone is different and we are all good at different tasks too. Overwhelm can cause us to doubt ourselves. A task you could do with your eyes closed suddenly seems complicated, you’ve forgotten the steps, or the directions, or the system or process. This can cause anxiety, stress, and panic.
Symptoms of overwhelm can include an increased temperature, sweating, quicker heartrate, shaking, irritability and insomnia. One of the key symptoms is our susceptibility to distractions (otherwise known as “Squirrels”). You might call it procrastinating, deferring, postponing, or messing around, but these are all side-effects of overwhelm.
There’s often a logical reason behind why you haven’t jumped at sending that email, or made that phone call, completed that purchase or done the next task on your achievement list.
I recognise my overwhelm when I am scrolling aimlessly through Facebook or find myself watching daytime TV. If I was mentally ready to do the tasks on my achievement list I wouldn’t stop for half an hour to scroll through what my friends had for dinner or where they’re going on holiday after lockdown. Online quizzes and polls wouldn’t catch my eye and I wouldn’t look at the clock and wonder where the last hour had gone.
Make time for yourself.
If you need to watch an hour of TV to unwind and relax, that’s ok. If you want to have a blitz of news from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok and Instagram, that’s ok too. It’s when your list of important tasks gets set aside that you might feel overwhelm creeping up on you.
Perhaps you had a deadline to meet and now there isn’t time to get that report in for your boss. They won’t be happy and you can imagine their reaction when you have to tell them. This adds a layer of stress. Or maybe you had a client appointment to prepare for and now you’re winging it. You may be thinking you could have done better or worrying about what the client thinks of you and this could cause a layer of stress.
Tips to avoid overwhelm.
- Allow plenty of time to achieve tasks on your list. Can you ask for more time if needed? The idea is to remove the layer of stress brought on by unreasonable deadlines and unexpected delays.
- Keep an eye out for symptoms. Are you feeling rushed? Any physical signs? Do you need more skills or training? Could this task be delegated to someone else? Is there anyone you know who seems stressed, angry, tired, or tearful? These are common signs of overwhelm.
- Look after your body as well as your mind. Simple suggestions include homecooked meals, drinking more water, having a good night of sleep. Making the time for seeing friends, exercising, and learning new skills is as important as meeting that deadline.
I know how overwhelm can cause short term and long term problems and I work with people from all over the country to help them recognise their symptoms of overwhelm. I can help put steps into place to reduce overwhelm in your business and personal life. If you’re juggling too much something will give.
Don’t let overwhelm run your life. If you find you’re bouncing from one task to another with no time to rest or relax please get in touch with me. I will help identify where you can carry on with what you’re doing and where it makes sense to outsource or delegate tasks. No task is too big or too small and if you feel overwhelmed, please give me a call.
Rachael Chiverton, Focus Guru – Giving You Your Time, Your Way
www.getfocus.guru | 07756 772950