A Strategy to Deal with Overwhelm

Do you every feel overwhelmed? I’m sure we’ve all felt this way, at time or another. But how do you deal with it? I find that a lot of my clients, and my students, report an inability to handle these feelings of overwhelm, which begs the question: is it the tasks that need to get done, or the perception of them. There is a difference.

As one who is very busy, with my fingers in several things, I often feel overwhelmed, such as right now. I just finished teaching one course but started another, and I’m also on my last week for another course; I have a talk I’m giving next week, plus several others, and I run a coaching association, with a meeting next week. When I look at this, I admit my anxiety kicks in a bit as I wonder IF I will get them done. I know logically that they will, as they have in the past, but it doesn’t make me feel any different.

That is the funny thing with feelings – they set the tone for how we think and behave. Perceptions of our situations cause us problems  when we believe the stories we tell ourselves. I hear clients say ‘I can’t deal with this,’ or ‘I don’t know if I can get all my tasks done.’ Believing these statements will lead them (and you) exactly where you are now….stuck. I know these feelings and ‘stuckness’ as well.

However, I’ve developed a strategy that works for me, and hopefully, it will for you. Because I’m a very visual person, I need to see what I’m dealing with. The one strategy that works for me is to create a picture of the tasks I have to do, along with the dates. I take a piece of copy paper and made headlines for each task I need to get done, such as one for each school I teach at, each of the talks I’m giving, writing, networking, etc. Then, under each, I list specific steps I can need to take along with a due date. I find that this simple act helps me to be more aware, which helps to relieve any anxious feelings I have, and keeps me feeling in control and focused.

It’s not a hard exercise to do but the results you get from it will decrease any fears and feelings and help you to take action. As an added bonus, I talk to myself, helping me to remember times in the past when I said I couldn’t handle what was on my plate but they got done; this actually is effective to challenge any negatives thoughts and then bounces back positive feelings from previous accomplishments. These work well for me – they can for you, too. Staying in negative patterns doesn’t have to be the norm; you can alter your thought patterns, creating positive habits and getting more done.


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