I have client after client telling me the same thing.
I know you’re familiar with the feeling. You have a laundry list of things you HAVE to do, but the burden feels so heavy, you can’t get ANY of it done. The neurons get overloaded and we just kinda shut down … paralyzed.
Remember our two-part discussion on cortisol from a few months ago? Part 1 and Part 2. That’s the culprit. Cortisol sets you up to fight or flee.
But you have a business to run.
And anybody running a business or serving in corporate leadership always has way too much to do and competing priorities to balance … work, family, community, time for you.
I totally get it. It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed when I think about trying to balance spending time with the family and my elderly mom, date nights with my husband, church commitments, gym time, a crazy travel schedule, continuing education, strategizing what’s next for my company, and executing on the day to day needs of my business. It’s nuts!
But here are some of the things that work for me:
- Breathe. Your breathing doesn’t have to be “deep” to take you out of the tightly-wound sympathetic nervous system mode. That’s a myth, but it does need to follow a regular cadence, and it has to be even … as in smooth … and from the belly. When you practice conscious breathing like this, you stop the cortisol flood and turn the good hormones back on. And that’ll help you be more calm, think more clearly and creatively, give your jangled nervous system a rest … and just maybe allow you to get something done.
- Stay in the present. It’s so easy to panic when feeling overwhelmed, but that does nothing but raise your cortisol levels. It’s not possible to experience overwhelm or stress when you’re 100% focused on the present, taking care of what’s right in front of you. How do you get there? For me, it’s a quick prayer. For others, meditation can do it.By the way, really successful people adhere to a critical practice. They limit interruptions and get right back to work immediately after dealing with whatever distracted them.
- Define your priorities. What’s the single most important thing to focus on at the moment? Get clear on that and jump in. If you’re so overwhelmed you can’t even get there, ask yourself what’s gnawing at you the most and address it.
- Be okay with less than perfection. People who know me will laugh when they read this. I’m not known for being cool with “imperfection.” But if good enough is what you need to get off the overwhelm train, isn’t it worth not obsessing over the tiny details? Let your spouse or housekeeper clean the bathroom, even though it might not be done exactly how you would do it.Delegate projects at work. You don’t have to handle every little thing. Besides, micromanagers are resented and they burn out, so let somebody else take the reins.
- Don’t beat yourself up for how little you get done in a day. Very few people accomplish everything they want to. That’s just life. We continually come up short of expectations. You’re not special in that regard. But what does letting your stomach get all churned up and your nerves frayed accomplish? NOTHING.
So, give yourself a break. Chip away at the things on your list … and yes, actually give yourself a pat on the back for what you DID accomplish.
Are these all things you’ve heard before? Probably. I hate to say it, but there’s no magic solution short of chucking it all. So, we deal the best we can. And these things do help if you practice them.
That’s the key. Overwhelm is a state of mind, body, and emotions. The more you can stay out of that debilitating state and the quicker you can shift to a more constructive state, the better.
Life isn’t meant to be some kind of gauntlet to be run. It’s supposed to be satisfying and fun … at least most of the time.
And, if it isn’t, something needs to change.