Feeling Overwhelmed? Feel there’s not enough time? Here’s some tips to get moving again.
When Overwhelm hits you, you know it. It is different for each person, some become anxious, some breathless, some yawn and find it hard to stay awake, others cry, some scream, others get sick, some call it stress, others procrastination. Whatever your personal response, everyone knows what it’s like to be in a state of overwhelm. And once you’re in overwhelm it can be hard to find your way out.
Many of our experiences of Overwhelm stem from our assumptions about Time - the more typical one being that there’s not enough time.
When we look more closely at the nature of Overwhelm, we find it contains very specific information about what we need in order to start moving. Amazingly, once we have this information, it doesn’t seem so difficult to find the time!
So when your feeling Overwhelmed try these;
1.Taking care of your body:
The feeling of Overwhelm could simply be a sign that you need to pay attention to your body. Ask yourself the following:
* Movement - Are you using your body? Don’t miss an opportunity to move: run, walk, swim, and jump
* Hydration - When was the last time you had a drink of water?
* Sustenance - Are you eating regularly? Are you eating food that nourishes you?
* Rest - Are you sleeping properly? Rather than working late, try going to bed before 10:00pm and working in the early hours of the morning.
* Stillness - Are you allowing your mind to become calm? Try meditating, or walking outside and looking at the sky, or simply stop and take a few slow quiet breaths.
2. Finding out the facts
Sometimes Overwhelm is our mind’s way of letting us know that we don’t have sufficient facts and/or we need to clarify the validity of the information we already possess.
Are you confusing FACTS with IMPRESSIONS! Both are important but they are not the same.
Take a mental note about what your impressions are and then make a concerted effort to find out the facts. Ask yourself: What facts do I have so far? What else do I need to know?
3. Dealing with difficult feelings
Sometimes the task itself may be quite do-able but a highly charged emotional field surrounds it. This can cause the task and the emotions to become fused, making it seem as though both are the same.
In this situation, separate the emotions from the task and deal with each on their own terms. Once you have clarity, the task itself will seem less daunting.
Ask yourself: How do you really feel about the task? Scared, sad, angry, confused, guilty, betrayed, powerless? Do you need some support to deal with these feelings in the way of books or professional support?
4. Saying how it is for you
Sometimes we experience Overwhelm when we have something important to say and don’t feel confident or comfortable in communicating it, or even that we have a right to communicate it.
There are five important issues to consider prior to any communication taking place: -
* The Message: Clarify first for yourself what you want to say.
* The Environment: Consider the context of the communication, and choose the best place for it to take place; at home, at the office, over dinner, away from home, or over coffee.
* The Recipient: It is important that we direct our message to the right person. Consider who that person/persons would be.
* The Time of day: Consider what time of day would give you the best results; in the morning? before lunch? after lunch?
* The Medium: We have many choices available to us. Consider the right message for the right medium. Written: letter, postcard, fax, email or spoken: telephone, tape, song.
5. Deciding what you really want
Sometimes feeling Overwhelm is a sign that we have been ignoring what our heart really desires, or the goal we really seek. This may be because we believe it is unattainable or that we don’t deserve it.
It is important to clarify, for ourselves, in as much detail as we can, what we really want.
What do you want to achieve? Do you have a picture in your mind of what you want? Can you draw it, or write about it? Are you afraid to set a goal? Is there a sentence you could construct which represents the completion of your goal?
6. Learning something new
Sometimes, especially when we’re older, we believe that we should already know things without having to be taught. This can mean we can be caught in a situation where we feel we are expected to know something and we’re afraid to admit that we don’t know. Is there a particular skill or subject area that you would like to know more about?
7. Looking at where the anxiety really belongs
Sometimes we feel Overwhelm and assume it’s a reaction to one area of our life, when it actually belongs somewhere else.
After careful reflection it is possible to recognise how easily this ‘dumping’ of anxiety from one area into another can occur and how easily it can instantly render something more stressful than it needs to be.
In such a situation, it is important to ‘trace the anxiety’ back to its origin. Once we take responsibility for the true source of the anxiety, its ‘power’ over us will diminish, and we can then return to the original issue with a great deal more clarity and energy.
8. Being trapped in avoidance patterns
Sometimes we develop strategies to avoid dealing with particular things in our lives. If left to their own devices, these avoidance strategies can become more complex and energy-consuming than the original issue we are avoiding. If you are feeling Overwhelm your avoidance patterns may be so automatic that the real issues are really hard to get at. This means they are controlling you. An addiction is an example of a patterned response to avoid pain (emotional, mental, physical). When you start to notice yourself repeatedly avoiding a particular issue, and feel unable to break out of, consider seeking professional support.
9. Trying to control others
Sometimes ‘being Overwhelmed’ is a way of exerting power or influence over those around us. It can be used as a passive form of controlling others, by creating a situation where others feel compelled to help. This form of convenient Overwhelm can provide you with a temporary feeling of being in control but it doesn’t last. Soon the people around you will begin to feel manipulated and resentful.
Underlying this form of Overwhelm is the avoidance of honest communication. Focus on taking responsibility for your needs and feelings, and asking for help before you become Overwhelmed.
This strategic Overwhelm also works as a way of withholding something (information, affection, support etc) from someone in order to control them. This can ultimately lead to guilt and loneliness as you gradually cut yourself off from those around you. It can also set off a power game chain reaction where each person shuts off to the other when they reach out. To overcome this type of Overwhelm you must be willing to be honest, vulnerable and compassionate.
By becoming aware of the messages within Overwhelm, we can begin to put our energy into managing our lives through Overwhelm rather than simply auto-reacting to it.
So where does Time fit in then?
What appears, at first glance, to be a problem with Time is just one aspect of a very powerful relationship between Time, Energy and Motion that occurs deep within ourselves.
More often than not, when we say we can’t find, or don’t have the Time for something, it usually means that we don’t have the Energy for it. When we don’t have the Energy, this usually means that we feel ’stuck’ or we can’t move, and when this happens we feel overwhelmed.
I DON’T HAVE THE TIME means
I DON’T HAVE THE ENERGY, which usually means
I CAN’T MOVE/work on this situation
The simplest way to demonstrate the creative relationship between Time, Energy and Motion is to work backwards!
When I’m OVERWHELMED in practical terms, it means I can’t move.
When I take some TIME to look closely at Overwhelm, I can see why I’m stuck.
This gives me the ENERGY to see where to start, then, miraculously, I CAN FIND THE TIME.
Cecille Weldon is the Director of Banyan Tree Creative Services which provides a full range of integrated management and creative services as well as Organic Time Management services.
Originally published in Her Business magazine.
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