It’s a rare person these days who hasn’t experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by the stresses of a busy life. The demands of jobs, bills, and kids often feel overwhelming, and we are challenged to manage all the priorities. Well-meaning friends or co-workers tell us to just slow down or quit trying to do so much, which seems to add to the pressure rather than help us manage it.
But just because we can’t “slow down” or “quit trying to do so much” doesn’t mean we are helpless. Here are 5 tips we use to help get overwhelm under control.
1. Keep your expectations realistic
Hang up your super-hero cape and give yourself permission be human. Sometimes we are our own biggest source of anxiety when our inner voice is scolding us for not being able to do it all. If your best friend was trying to balance all the things you’re are trying to balance, would you think less of them if they failed to do it all? Of course not! You would be amazed that they are able to do half the things that they do. So, step back into your own skin and cut yourself a little slack.
Use the tips here to help you set more realistic expectations for yourself. When that inner voice begins to scold you, come on back here and revisit these tips and recalibrate those expectations.
2. Chunk it down
Break yearly goals down into quarterly goals; break quarterly goals down into monthly goals; break monthly goals down into weekly goals. Whether your goal is to pay off a credit card, lose weight, exercise more, or eat out less, think about breaking the big goal down into bite-sized chunks to keep from becoming overwhelmed.
When we have large goals, we often get discouraged or overwhelmed when we can’t achieve them in a few giant steps. The secret to achieving one big goal is achieving many little goals. And who doesn’t like to accomplish a goal!
3. Get it out
Trying to remember everything is stressful. “Don’t forget to stop and get milk on the way home.” “Don’t forget that tomorrow is picture day at school.” “Remember to send a birthday card to Aunt Martha.” Oh my gosh! I was so busy trying not to forget anything that I forgot to stop and get milk! Has this ever happened to you? Instant overwhelm!
In whatever way works for you, get everything out of your brain so you don’t have to worry about remembering – or fearing that you’ll forget. Whether it is a notebook you carry with you, the voice note app on your phone, real or virtual sticky notes, just get those details captured somewhere. Once they’re out, then you can organize them in a way that helps remind you.
By organize, I mean nothing more than gather together in a way that helps you keep track of the big things and the little things. If you’re the creative type, try a “Anchor”. Don’t know what that is? Google it or go on Pinterest to see how creatively people organize their lives!
Leverage technology to help you gather, record, and track the big and little goals and details of daily life. Are you a list person who likes to create lists and gets satisfaction by checking things off? There’s an app for that! Are you a date person who sets and meets deadlines? There’s an app for that!
The system does not matter, so long as it works for you. And if you can have a little fun creating it or trying out a new app along the way, so much the better!
Who says that keeping overwhelm away has to be a chore? Keep it fun and fresh by turning the mundane into magnificent! Okay, well maybe that’s taking it too far, but taking something that is usually boring and dull and turning it into a game or challenge can make it a little more interesting.
Here’s an example of a simple way to gamify the trip of errands. Did you know that one of the ways that UPS saves money and time is to plan their delivery routes with as few left turns as possible? Both time and fuel (money) are wasted when you wait to make a left turn, and you usually have to wait. Next time you head out to run errands, think about the route that has the fewest left turns.
Do you have a tip or strategy that helps you keep overwhelm under control? If so, we’d all like to know!