It’s February. Way back in 2016 you made a solemn promise to yourself that 2017 was going to be the year you were going to get things done. You were going to make more progress in your business than ever before. On top of that, you were going to exercise more, eat less and have more fun! You’ve done your homework, you planned everything ages ago and swore you’d stay on track so that you didn’t get overwhelmed at all.
Now, with deadlines looming like a tidal wave, you realise you’re in danger of drowning. The waters of anxiety and overwhelm are already rising up around your ankles. You know that any minute now, in one big ‘whoosh’, you’re going to feel as if you’re drowning.
If you’re wondering how on earth you could ever have been so ambitious, and whether you’ll be able to get back to safer ground again, this two part series on dealing with overwhelm can help.
Recognise the Overwhelm
There are a number of strategies that can literally act as life (and sanity) savers in this situation. The very first step is recognising and admitting you’re in over your head. Meditation coach, Sura, discusses symptoms of overwhelm in her Huffington Post article, How to Let go of Overwhelm. In it she talks about the importance of recognising and naming what you’re feeling, so that you can take action to counteract it.
Personally, when I’m suffering from overwhelm it takes many forms:
- I procrastinate, playing online games and binge-watching Netflix until midnight and beyond, when I’m normally an early morning person
- It becomes increasingly more difficult to get out of bed because of the late nights, which means I then don’t exercise
- I start eating junk food, where I normally eat a very healthy diet. This lapse in self-care results in me feeling even more icky and overwhelmed
- I tell myself that the tasks I need to undertake are much, much harder than they really are. This results in me putting off doing them even more
Acknowledge the Overwhelm
Regardless of your symptoms, acknowledging the overwhelm allows you to do something about it. The first step is to make sure you’re indulging in radical self-care. I find it difficult to turn things around immediately. It’s hard for me to implement early nights, get up early enough to exercise, eat right and be proactive all at once, so I ease back into a positive productivity cycle.
- I start off by setting a bedtime and sticking to it. I like to rise between 5 and 5:30am, so I aim to be in bed between 9 - 9:30pm.
- Once I’ve reclaimed my bedtime routine, I then focus on getting back into my exercise. I’m SO not a gym person and there’s nothing that speaks more to my soul than walking my favourite beach, so I aim to do this every second day for at least 30 minutes (more on weekends). Easing back into things involves walking on the beach one day and doing yoga at home the next. Once I start doing it again, I wonder why I stopped because it makes me feel FANTASTIC!
- Once I have the sleep and movement going, it’s really easy to then slip back into a healthy food mindset. One of my luxuries because I work long hours is to order Lite’n’Easy. I know it’s healthy, and I don’t have to plan and prepare my food. I just have to heat it when relevant and know that I have fresh,healthy calorie-controlled food on tap.
When I align my actions in this way, my feelings of overwhelm vanish. I can’t wait to start each day. I challenge myself to get a realistic amount done, and taking pleasure with each and every task I mark off my to do list.
The next step is to look at your PLANNING.
Is the amount of work you planned to get done way back when still realistic?
Have you gained more clients, taken on other tasks, or has your life changed in some other way that now make your original goals unrealistic?
You’re not a failure if your paper plan no longer suits your lifestyle, or if you’ve been overly ambitious in what you thought you could achieve.
Just like your business, your plan exists to suit YOU. If it’s not working for you, change it.
The sky won’t fall down if you choose to write and publish a blog post monthly instead of fortnightly. Make yourself a cuppa, sit down with your plan and revise, revise, revise. It helps if you aim for less than you think you can accomplish each day - then you’re setting yourself up for success and over achievement, rather than feeling like a failure because you’ve listed 100 things to get done today and you’ve only achieved half of them. Consider your current circumstances and delete the stuff that no longer appeals to you, or that you’ve realised are unrealistic.
If you’re in danger of the overwhelm tidal wave drowning you and swamping your efforts to make 2017 a productive year, stop procrastinating! Take action now to revise your plans and make sure you include self-care. Self-care is so important to ensure you have the energy and vitality to carry out your tasks and clear the way to getting on with achieving. You’ve got this!
Next week’s article will focus on steps to take for dealing with overwhelm and setting things right again. For now, remember that a burden shared is a burden lightened. If you’re feeling swamped, I’d love to hear what you’re doing to turn things around, and how successful you’re being. If you need assistance with something in particular, feel welcome to ask in the comments below - we’ve all been there and someone could have just the right tip that will set you back on track. What tips do you have for managing overwhelm, that may be useful for others? I’d love to hear your success stories!