Confession time: lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Completely and utterly frazzled, if you will. I pride myself on my organisation and time management skills, but the last few weeks have been rammed with deadlines, last-minute logistical dilemmas and a few dramas in my personal life. And, on top of that, there was the Let’s Discuss Podcast launch. Plus I’ve also been trying to get on the property ladder. So my brain is like, “Ahhh! Too much, make it stop!”
But, thankfully, self-care and wellbeing are big priorities in my life. So I’ve been working hard to manage those feelings of overwhelm and keep my stress levels to a minimum. If you’re also feeling overwhelmed at the moment here are 5 coping strategies that are sure to make a positive difference…
1. FOCUS ON SELF-COMPASSION
Last summer my mum took me along to a self-compassion workshop with Dr. Kristin Neff. I agreed to attend on the strict promise there would be no meditating or cheesy group activities, but within five minutes I found myself trapped in a group meditation session. So that was the first and last time I joined my mum at a mindfulness workshop!
However, Kristin’s teachings did make an impact. She’s spent the last decade researching self-compassion, and encourages people to treat themselves with the same kindness and care they’d give to a friend. So, instead of beating yourself up because you can’t handle the pressure, take a deep breath and be kind to yourself. Let yourself off the hook for feeling stressed, ask yourself what you need to get through this overwhelming period of time, and then make self-care a priority.
2. STRUCTURE YOUR TO-DO LIST PROPERLY
Sure, writing a to-do list is pretty basic advice. But are your to-do lists helping or hindering you? Because if you don’t structure a to-do list properly it can just add to your sense of overwhelm.
When I have a lot going on and am struggling to manage my time I immediately put pen to paper. First I write down everything that I need to accomplish, from the big (complete a work project by a specific deadline) to the small (go to the post office). Then I take everything on that list and write it down in order of priority. And once I can see which tasks are the most pressing I start to divide them up, so I have a clear action plan for the week ahead. It makes me feel like I’m in control of the situation, and panic subsides.
3. TAKE SOMETHING OFF YOUR PLATE
I hate backing out of a commitment, but sometimes it’s got to be done, and it loops back to that whole self-compassion thing. If you start to feel yourself sinking under the weight of your responsibilities, take something off your plate – whether that be a non-essential meeting, a scheduled gym session or a boozy dinner with friends. If you’re exhausted and feel frazzled take that time to re-charge. Because pushing harder when you’re at your limit just makes things worse.
Yes, I just said drop a gym session if you have too much on your plate. And I totally stand by that. But, if you are able to carve out some time for exercise it will make a world of difference. Not only will it distract your mind, but also help to shake off some of that built up tension and release positive endorphins. Even going for a short walk around the block or designing a 5-minute circuit at home will help!
5. SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS
And ditto spending time with friends… As with exercise, sometimes it’s the one thing on your plate that has to go. But it can also be so rejuvenating. During my last stretch of overwhelm I took some time out on a Tuesday afternoon to get lunch with Monica and Anneli; and it truly did me the world of good. I initially felt guilty for leaving my desk during such a busy time, but taking that break actually allowed me to apply more energy to my work once I returned.
What coping strategies do you implement when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Leave a comment below to have your say…
Photos by Marlene Lee