“I feel overwhelmed” – Ten Ways to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed by Life (if you are a nut job like me)
There have been times when I have been trying to get everyone out the door and I have ended up sobbing on the couch because what should be a simple task—getting lunches packed, shoes on, remembering to grab the the package I need to mail— just feels like too much.
It’s the feeling of not being able to think outside of my present circumstance and everything in the world feels like it is too much to handle. It’s almost like I’m in a shrinking room with no door.
For the most part, I have learned how to avoid or in the very least cope with my overwhelming feelings.
First I’ll say, since this is a health blog, that eating real food and regular exercise do wonders for reducing and managing overwhelming feelings. The days I don’t exercise or eat like crap I am much more likely to end up on the couch sobbing because life feels overwhelming.
But, fortunately, there are other things we can do to help avoid feeling overwhelmed by life.
Ten Ways to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed by Life
1. Prepare – Do what you can ahead of time. Lay out the gyms clothes, pack the backpacks, get luches ready, throw something in the crockpot. Knowing that somethings have already been done helps me from feeling overwhelmed.
2. Write Things Down - Having to remember is one more thing to do. It’s so much easier if I write things down so I know what needs to get done. I don’t have to worry if I remembered everything. If I start to feel overwhelmed it’s much better if I have a list to look at because a list in my head is clutter.
3. Visualize - If we have a particularly stressful situation like getting everyone packed and out the door to catch a flight then I will visualize what needs to happen the night before. I will see us getting up, getting dress, having breakfast, going over the list I wrote the night before, and heading out the door with time enough to allow for traffic. Although it’s unlikely that things will go exactly as planned, I will feel less overwhelmed, when Thing One can’t find his shoes.
4. Say No to Commitments and Comparisons - We want to be super heroes but you know what all super heroes do? They focus on what’s important. They don’t volunteer to be on every committee or feel like they have to make party favors by hand for a bunch of three year olds who don’t know the difference between twine and string. If you have time for and enjoy these sort of things that’s great but don’t feel any less because you filled a goodie bag with something from the dollar store. Pinterest is a cool site but if you look at my pins you will not find 10,000 ambitious craft projects. It’s not because I’m any less creative or capable, it’s because a list of 10,000 things to do would overwhelm me. I use Pinterest as a way to remember and organize cool things I come across online or share cool places I’ve been. For me, it’s important not to use Pinterest as an unrealistic “to-do” list or worse as a way to measure myself against others.
5. Remember the Big Things – To avoid feeling overwhelmed I sometimes I have ask myself does this reaaaally matter in light of “the big picture”, i.e. what I value in life. Then sometimes I have to say “so what”. So what if I’m late. So what if the house is dirty when people come over. In ten years, I won’t remember being late to meet someone but my kids might remember me screaming at them because they couldn’t find their coat.
6. Prayer/Meditation - For those of us who get overwhelmed easily prayer, meditation or just quiet time is essential. Prayer not only “centers me” but it gently reminds me of what is important and that everything will be okay. I use prayer time as a way to let go the things that bother me. Admittedly, I alway manage to grab onto those things time and time again so I need to pray regularly to release the things that weigh me down.
7. Communicate - Brent has learned to recognize situations that trigger my overwhelming feelings and does what he can to help me avoid those feelings. He knows that putting on loud music if we are trying to get out the door will only contribute to my stress level. He knows because I’ve communicated my feelings with him. The same goes for my boys. I let them know if I start to feel overwhelmed. I can’t expect people to know how I’m feeling if I don’t tell them.
8. Give Yourself Extra Time – I especially feel overwhelmed when I have to be somewhere at a specific time and giving myself extra time may be the most important thing for me to do to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If we have to be out the door at 8 am, I can’t sleep until 7:30 and expect the morning to go smoothly. I need to not just give myself time but extra time.
9. Reduce External Stimulation - Sounds, lights, clothing, temperature, clutter, all of it can contribute to feeling overwhelmed. A house full of clutter, an itchy hot sweater, loud music, bright lights, and a deadline is a recipe for disaster. To avoid feeling overwhelmed I have reduce external stimulation. This means not wearing uncomfortable clothing no matter how cute, minimizing clutter as much as possible, and keeping noise levels low when I can. When my kids were younger I didn’t buy them loud obnoxious toys and got rid of ones that drove me nuts. (Sorry grandma.) I also decorate with fabrics and colors that I find soothing.
10. Patience with Yourself and Others - In some ways, I’m like a small child (or nut job). I’m not proud of it but neither am I embarrassed by it. The fact is I’m a highly sensitive person and need to take special care of myself to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Rather than berate myself for feeling/being this way, I choose to accept and work with myself patiently. Battling myself or those around me only adds to feeling overwhelmed. Additionally we can’t control other people or every circumstance so why try? Patience with myself and others goes a long way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by life.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? What triggers overwhelming feelings for you? How do you avoid or reduce them? Any other suggestions?
Hugs and High Fives,
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Journey with our family on the road at New School Nomads as we travel fulltime in RV through the United States!