“Sound character provides the power with which a person may ride the emergencies of life instead of being overwhelmed by them. Failure is… the highway to success.” — Og Mandino
I often feel overwhelmed. I feel like the weight of the world is resting violently on my shoulders. There’s a taxing demand for my time and my energy at all hours of the day. And while I do understand that I’m not alone in this feeling of overwhelm, it’s easy to allow it to get the better of me if I don’t take some steps to avoid it.
The truth of the matter is that many people feel overwhelmed in life. It’s an upshot of the vast responsibilities that we face, stemming from our families, our friends, our health, our businesses and our finances, just to name a few. Stress, anxiety and fear are the clear and natural culprits of the overwhelm demons, committed to taking control of our lives in an unrelenting effort to inflict mental, emotional, spiritual and, oftentimes, physical, pain.
However, there are ways to avoid this feeling. There are ways to surmount the seemingly insurmountable tasks that are before us and to move the proverbial mountain one stone at time. Often, all it merely takes is a shift in focus. It involves changing and amending your mentality, moving your thinking in an entirely new direction. Why? The truth is that you get what you focus on. If you focus on feeling overwhelmed, you’ll feel entirely more overwhelmed.
Still, you’re likely sitting there and thinking that this is just some mumbo jumbo and that shifting your focus won’t help you fight the feeling of overwhelm. Well, not only will it help to fight it, you can almost entirely remove that feeling by starting with this simple shift in focus. Clearly, it’s going to take a bit more that that. In fact, there are likely hundreds of ways that you can combat this feeling of overwhelm, but there are 7 core methods of avoiding this from occurring.
I know that in my life, this feeling of overwhelm has stopped me from attaining and achieving the things that I knew I was destined to have. It’s because I felt overwhelmed that I often gave up in life or failed miserably then didn’t turn back around and pick up the pieces. I quit. I didn’t succeed because I was too overwhelmed to keep going. Know this feeling? I know it entirely all too well, which is an unfortunate fact of much of my early life.
Yet, failure and the feeling of being so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do with yourself, is all a part of life. It’s a part of the process to grow and mature, reaching new understandings about life, love and the people that surround us. Often, when we feel so consumed by things that it helps us reach a new bottom, that’s what allows us to eventually crawl back out of the hole, rebuilding up a life burnt to ashes and left asunder.
So, if you’re feeling buried or defeated right now, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t think that this is the end of your rope or that you can’t go on for another moment. You can and you will. Why? Because whatever doesn’t kill you will most certainly make you stronger. And if you’re reading this right now, you’re alive in this very moment. That’s what matters. Focus on that and on all the other positive things going on in your life.
I know that it’s often difficult to feel any positivity when you’re so immersed in one problem after another. It’s also not easy to climb out of a rut. But it is possible to do. Just keep in mind that you’re human, you make mistakes and you’re fallible, and that’s quite alright. Learn to forgive yourself for whatever shortcomings you might perceive to have, and push forward one step at a time. Don’t overthink things. Just keep going.
How Do You Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed?
Okay, so there are 7 distinct strategies that you can use to avoid feeling like you’re at the end of your rope. The next time you feel like this, give one or more of these an honest try. Don’t just brush it off. Take the time to really concentrate and focus your efforts so that you can move past these feelings. Often, this has as much to do with the culmination of events that we’ve been through as it does about what’s happening today, in the here and now.
#1 — Breathe and let go of the past
The first and most important way that you can avoid feeling overwhelmed is to breathe. Breathing exercises, where you focus on the number of breaths in, the count your breath is held for, and the length of exhalation, can help to do a number of things. First and foremost, breathing in deeply and holding that breath helps to deliver more oxygen to your blood. Second, that breathing exercise helps to calm the nerves while also detoxifying the body.
Breathing also releases carbon dioxide, which is essentially a toxin built up in the body, and it also rejuvenates the lymphatic system with the delivery of that oxygen. It also helps to stimulate and create hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, effectively making you happier. As you breathe in deeply, draw your breath for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and release for a count of 8. As you release, feel the negativity of the past leaving your mind and your body.
If you sincerely engage in this exercise, you will feel remarkably better. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be cured of your overwhelm overnight. But, it does mean that you will be taking steps to avoid the drastic affects that overwhelm can have on you. Do the exercises for at least 15 minutes every time you feel the overwhelm come back. If you don’t have 15 minutes, do it for 5 minutes, but do it wholeheartedly.
#2 — Release toxic energy through exercise
Exercise is a great way to help shift your focus when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Engage in vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes and pour your heart into it. If you’ve never exercised in your life, that’s more the reason why you should engage in a regimen when you feel this way. Exercise is a terrific way to get the blood pumping and more of those powerful happy hormones moving throughout your body and mind.
You also don’t need to wait until you feel so inundated with overwhelm that you need to work out. Decide to do a quick workout in the morning as you start your day. The best way to build up this habit is to commit to something incredibly small and build up. That’s the way good habits are created. Decide to walk for 5 minutes every morning around the block in your neighborhood but do it every day without fail for a week. The next week, increase by another 5 minutes, and so on and so forth until the habit is set in place.
#3 — Realign your values and your beliefs
We often feel overwhelmed when our values and our belies are out of sync with our goals. When what we’re doing on a daily basis doesn’t make us happy because it goes contrary to who we are or what we believe in, we feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is especially true when we experience problems as a result of the way we’re living our lives. When you feel this way, it’s time to reassess what you value and what you believe in.
You can do this by simply writing it all down. What do you value? What are the most important things to you in life? What do you believe in? Then, take a look at your goals. Are you actively pursuing your long-term goals in your daily life? Are those goals in harmony with what you value and believe in? The truth is that we often do things for the wrong reasons simply by thinking that we have no other choice when in fact we have a very powerful choice in the matter.
#4 — Do one thing that you absolutely love
One way to avoid the feeling of overwhelm is to get out of your patterns and go do one thing that you absolutely love to do. What haven’t you done in forever that you keep thinking you need to do? Well, what’s stopping you? If you love to walk on the beach, go to the beach and do some walking. If you love going to one particular park and reading a book, stop and do that. Maybe you enjoy a good steak or listening to a particular song. Whatever it is, get out there and do it.
Life can often throw so much at us that it can be too much to bear. We’re so used to watching the depiction and personification of wealth and the so-called American Dream that we constantly think about the plight that we’ve been faced with or the shackles of debt we’ve been confined to. Whatever blow life’s dealt you, don’t allow it to overwhelm you. Don’t succumb to the sheer strength and force of your problems. Break away and do something you love to do and allow time to heal the rest.
#5 — Implement a good time management system
Time is life’s greatest equalizer. We all have the same amount of time. No one has more than the next person. However, it isn’t about how much time we have; it’s about how well we use the precious moments that we do have. Are we wasting our time? Are we squandering it away pursuing things that don’t help us progress further along towards our goals and our dreams? Or, are we using that time wisely?
If you want to combat your general sense of overwhelm and find the time to handle everything in your life, you need a good time management system. If you can effectively manage your time, you won’t feel like you’re overburdened or overtasked with a million things to do that you simply can’t get done. Find a system that works for you and work it. It’s not a simple feat, but it is an achievable goal as long as you pay attention to the details.
#6 — Learn how to say no
The truth is that we often take on too many responsibilities simply because many of us are people pleasers. We just don’t know how to say no. Have you found a problem with this in your life? If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re simply too nice to say no when someone asks you for something, you need to make some amendments to your behavior. You don’t need to say yes to everything.
If you can learn how to say no in the right situations, you won’t feel like there’s always so much to do. It’s okay if you let people down a bit because they’ll get over it. They’ll simply ask the next person to help them or the next one after that. And that’s quite alright. Don’t let it dismay or dissuade you, because, in the end, it’s really about your mental and spiritual health over others. Don’t stress yourself out because you don’t know how to turn someone down when they ask you for a favor.
#7 — Limit and avoid distractions and bad habits
We all have a problem with distractions to one degree or another. We’re passionate about doing certain things. However, that passion can oftentimes spiral out of control. When the bad habits we have consume us, where we use them to deflect from our obligations, it can severely debilitate our ability to progress in life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re defaulting to time-wasters and distractions that include your bad habits, then something has to change.
This is especially true with things like substance abuse or over-drinking, gambling and so on. If you fit this category, then it must become a priority to take back control of your life. You will never defeat the feeling of overwhelm until you battle away the demons that are holding you back. Trace back to your goals in life. What do you want? Why do you want them? What are you willing to do to achieve those things? Don’t ignore it for another day.