I must admit I feel a little bit foolish right now. Here I am chasing my own dreams, getting ahead and thinking that things couldn’t work out any better. Until I sat at my chiropractor’s office and going over my test results that show clearly that I have been running at full speed without refueling for a bit too long. I am feeling overwhelmed. Big time. My body is telling me to slow down.
Why is everything a bit too much all of a sudden? Why am I feeling so overwhelmed? Am I not following my dreams with this blog, with going riding, with the dream job that I have, with starting to work out more, with daily affirmations, bullet journals and social media channels that want to be updated every day? Typing this all out it becomes obvious to me, doesn’t it? But I love all those things and they make me happy. As I said, I am feeling a bit foolish right now.
Maybe for the first time ever, I am extremely driven and determined, because I am following my dreams. I was and still am utterly surprised that this let to an impasse. Isn’t following your dreams the ultimate goal? Sigh, yes, but it needs to be sustainable. My mind tells me “blah blah” right now and all I want to do is poke my tongue at myself with every sentence I write. I should heed my own advice for a change and do all the things I write about. I usually do, but I clearly have not taken good care of myself in the last little while.
What to do when feeling overwhelmed?
So what would be my own advice? Taking a good look at my older posts about self-care, time management and all the bullet journal prompts, I came to the conclusion, that yes, they were all valid. So I decided to get to the root of the problem and assessed this whole mess. Where to start? Glad you asked.
Be gentle to yourself
Take a moment to breathe. Or a day, or two, or a week. Whatever you feel you need to catch your breath. Don’t judge yourself or how you are feeling. This feeling of overwhelm is there to protect you, as weird as it sounds. If you would not have noticed somehow, you could have developed a serious condition. We are experts at fooling ourselves and talking us into thinking that everything is fine when we should take it slow.
I was, and still am a little bit, convinced that everything was going fine, and I felt great. Honestly, this came as a shock to me. I’ll try not to feel defeated by this realization and rather use it as an impetus to tweak and grow.
Let’s start with a Brain Dump, where you dump all your tasks or any stray thoughts onto a page. I used my bullet journal for this. *winkwink*. Get it all out there. Let it sit and just look at it. Overwhelming? Go figure.
You could compare this to a download of information from your brain onto a page. You become more calm, regain mental space and quieten your mind that tried to hold onto every thought and task, running like a hamster in it’s wheel.
Categorize all your tasks into the following categories (or any that make sense to you):
- Necessity (don’t forget to add sleep and eat)
- Nice to have
- Health etc.
This practice will help you see a clear big picture. After putting everything on paper, it will become more evident what is important to you, what has to be accomplished and what could be postponed until some later time.
Strategize and cut back excess
Create, your daily schedule, because after all, a day has only 24 hrs. I followed Matt Ragland’s 15 Minute Block system. Fill in the hours with the necessities like work, sleep, eat, commute and family. Then add your wants as they are what make you happy: friends, hobbies, working out, ME TIME. Start with your current schedule and look for ways to optimize it, then run with it for a week. After a week of diligent tracking, you might have gained valuable insights on how to tweak things. Make sure you add breathing room or small pockets of me-time. Can you optimize your daily schedule or cut back to work on your dreams for one hour a day. You can achieve a lot in one hour per day. Check out my article about time management.
It is always a good idea to reach out to others and seek help. Simply acknowledging the fact that you are feeling overwhelmed is a good step in the right direction. Talk to your partner, a friend, a doctor or practitioner. You will know what is best for you. By noticing, acknowledging and working on the challenges that presents itself before us, we grow into an even better version of ourselves.
Keep focusing on the end goal, reducing stress and the feeling of overwhelm. Test out your new strategy or schedule and run with it for a week. If it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and change it. This needs to work for you and nobody else.
What I am doing about all of my mess?
I started to slow down. Then I decided to share this with you as it feels the most authentic to me. I would not be authentic if I couldn’t share that I too get overwhelmed sometimes. So finally, this past week, i heeded my own advice and assessed my own to-do list, daily tasks by using the brain dump method. Scaling back my own expectation was the biggest challenge for me. Now, I committed myself to the 15 Minute-block time-track challenge to assess the use of my time and see how I could optimize it. In addition, I prioritized going back to a regular Pilates routine and seeing my chiropractor to get back in shape. Even though I feel like I’d rather be an ostrich putting my head in the sand, I keep repeating my affirmation – you could also call them a mantra – “You can do this!”
Feeling overwhelmed is never a good feeling. However, that you notice what is going on is a huge step forward. You can only get better when you know that something is not going right. Give yourself a pat on the back for it. I mean it. Do it now. That’s nice.
Don’t forget to breathe and take it slow. As slow as you need. You will be able to get back on track!