Your intentions are good. You want to make the world a better place. You’ve found opportunities for yourself to answer the call and take action. you’ve volunteered and are pushing forward at an incredible pace. Then, as your energy and enthusiasm reservoirs begin to deplete, you can start to feel overwhelmed.
Your enthusiasm, willingness to be supportive and commit to positive action exceed personal capacity and you feel as if you’ve overcommitted, overbooked, overworked, and are overwhelmed. What can you do?
What to Do When Feeling Overwhelmed
Every now and then I need to remind myself to better enforce my own personal boundaries and just say, “No,” to some invitations to participate, even when I really, really want to play on a particular project.
Some basic methods to apply to your sense of feeling overwhelmed include a review of what you actually have to deal with. Take a look at your schedule and map out on a calendar all the things you’ve committed yourself to, while categorizing your activities. This might sound like a daunting task, but you can make it fun.
I’m a visual person, so I grab a few bags of Skittles before conducting a review and use specific colors for different categories of tasks. Each tasty morsel represents an hour (or a half-hour) of commitment.
If you’re like me, I do tend to let my enthusiasm overpower my capacity, and seeing this visual representation is eye-opening. It’s no wonder I feel overwhelmed. There are not enough hours in a day to process all these sugary colors of the rainbow. (See: Skittles Time Management)
Are there any of these candies that can be removed or delegated? Can you find better ways to reduce the time it takes to complete a task? Reducing a task from a row of five green Skittles to two could give you a huge advantage over your sense of feeling overwhelmed about that item.
If your Skittles are all in order and your obligations do not exceed your capacity, you can still feel overwhelmed due to limitations of your mental capacity. This is to say that some projects require more mental focus and may be more challenging than others, and this can cause you to feel more anxious and overwhelmed when engaged in them.
There is usually an element of fear associated with them, as they may be well outside your comfort zone. But note that the highest levels of satisfaction are achieved from working in this area, and the result is increased self-confidence and personal growth.
You may have fear associated with your ability to perform. You may have those negative inner voices telling you you’re not good enough, not qualified, not deserving, not born into the right family, not worthy of achieving your highest and best, when nothing could be further from the truth.
You may be fearful that things may not turn out the way you had planned. You may be afraid that other people will see you not perform as well as you had hoped. You may have tried something in the past that did not turn out well, or possibly even suffered some negative result from having tried at all, and this might have you afraid that something bad might happen.
These kinds of fears and activity going on inside your head and added stress felt in the body can exasperate your feelings of being overwhelmed exponentially.
When you start feeling overwhelmed and feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, you need to get a grip on yourself, and realize that most of what you are feeling is not real. I’m not saying that your feelings are not real. What I am saying is that your feelings are exaggerated by your thoughts.
So, if you can center yourself, stop all that activity that’s causing your mind to spin wildly and negatively, while calming your nervous system, you might be able to have a moment of peaceful clarity, possibly many moments.
Be still and meditate or find your place in space. Meditative practices, guided visualization, prayer, or just immersing yourself in a peaceful loving environment and state of mind can offer you this peaceful state of mind. You may also release emotional trauma with Tap Cross Therapy.
Focus your attention on being in the now of this present moment. Even though you may have felt as though you were in a state of panic, which is no surprise as your fight-or-flight mechanisms were triggered as if you were under attack and prepared for battle, just moments ago.
In this space, you will be able to have the peace of mind and fortitude to examine your obligations and rate them according to your values and priorities. Without being harassed by your mind and physiological responses to your thoughts, you may find that you’re not actually as overwhelmed as you thought you were.
You may also find that some obligations you’ve committed yourself to do not actually align with your long-term goals or life’s purpose. If so, you may need to find ways to gracefully bow out of these projects or offer someone else the opportunity to serve in that capacity.
Remember who you are, and seek to engage in activities that resonate with you and can lead you to living a better life, your best life, and make the world a better place.