Done with overwhelm?
Struggling to juggle everything?
Stressed out with too much to do and too little time?
You're in the right place.
A Practical Process to Get Out of Overwhelm
I've created a practical process for getting you out of overwhelm, available below in audio and written format.
I'm sharing this message with you because I've had numerous people reaching out to me across social media and email asking for support and tips on how to deal with overwhelm.
It is an increasingly important topic for us to talk about given the pace of modern life is so busy, and seems (on the surface) to only be increasing!
Firstly, I used to think this issue was primarily a western world problem. With our obsession with more, better and faster, which of course drives us to the brink of insanity with how much we try to do. We cram so much into very little time, attempting to be all things to all people!
Well, I discovered after a year of living in Bali that the issue of a busy life and overwhelm knows no boundaries, borders or cultural divide.
Even with the somewhat peaceful and more relaxed pace of life in Bali (compared to modern western life), when you delve below the surface the beautiful local people are dealing with their own version of overwhelm.
Most of them are up at 4.30am – 5am daily, working 1-3 jobs at a time, raising family, and preparing for, attending, or winding up from a spiritual ceremony almost every day of the week! All of which is done on tight budgets, alongside holding down their 1-3 jobs.
- No matter where you live in the world
- No matter what culture, ethnicity or faith base you come from
- No matter your age or what job you do, or how many jobs you juggle at once
- No matter how many kids you have or don't have
- No matter whether you have plentiful resources right now or are experiencing the evidence of limitations on your abundance…
This blog is a simple look at some KEY factors that contribute to overwhelm and steps to help you “unpick” what is really going on.
You can then make practical adjustments so you no longer have to swim in the murky world of overwhelm.
It's time for you to regain CONTROL over your experience of life…
What Causes Overwhelm?
In short, the primary causes of overwhelm typically come together in a combined equation, and it goes something like this:
- Too much to do
- Too little time to do it
- Expectations – that you have of yourself, of life, and that others have of you, leading you to believe you “should” be able to do it all and you “should” be able to cope
- A sense of trying to “keep up” with life, and a perception that if you can't then there's something wrong with you. So you soldier on, unwilling to allow that to happen
- Running on empty – going going going going going going going until you have no gas left in your tank! You become literally burnt out – exhausted, sleep deprived, and/or malnourished (physically and spiritually)
- Stress build up (including anxiety, tension, fear and worry). This takes a toll on you physically, mentally and emotionally. It's like trying to operate from within a murky fog and you never really feel clear or in control
- Limiting perspectives layered on top of all of that, which cause you to think there is no way out and no answers regarding how to change things
You feel like life is happening to you.
You feel like you are not in control.
You feel like things could change if you could just “get off the ride” for a moment and take a breather.
But you don't see how that is possible, and so you continue to sink down further and further under the weight of all of the above, day in day out.
Root Cause Issue
At the bottom of all of it is the fact that you LOSE YOURSELF in the doing.
While you are a powerful divine being with unlimited potential, creativity, inspiration, possibility, passion and intuition, you are also a human being.
That means you have a limited amount of physical, mental and emotional ENERGY to give into this world each day.
So you have to get really smart about what you give that energy to.
If you deplete your energy over and over again, and don't replenish, you go into deficit. And, you can only hold a deficit for so long before you crash and burn.
It's not rocket science, right? But it's due to the way your mind has been conditioned (with limiting beliefs, fear, expectations and societal pressure) that you struggle to live your life in a manageable, balanced and healthy way. You are unconsciously driven to push yourself further and further into overwhelm.
When you lose yourself in doing, it means you are entirely focused externally. You're all about action, coping, keeping up, producing results, going places, getting things, making things happen, meeting commitments. All of that ends up coming before your primary need.
What is Your Primary Need?
TO BE CONNECTED TO YOURSELF, irrespective of doing.
- Having a sense of calm inside yourself that you carry everywhere you go
- A sense of personal power and control over your life and your actions
- A sense of CHOOSING your direction
- Knowing you have the ability to create and hold a stillness within yourself (irrespective of how busy you are with actions)
- A sense of being tuned into your intuition and regularly tapping back into that every day (in between all the day to day errands, productivity and responsibilities).
The INNER (ability to be and manage your state of being) must drive the outer (your actions and way of living).
Unfortunately, overwhelm occurs when the OUTER drives the inner. i.e. when external life comes before any commitment to your inner state, and as a result whatever goes on outside of you in life is therefore dictating how you feel.
This goes to the heart of my message about “inside out” creating – we are inside out creators in every sense of the word.
People who are not enjoying life and are stuck, overwhelmed, stressed and unhappy are (99.9% of the time) living their life in an illusionary and warped paradigm. Their mindset is stuck in the reverse equation of “outside in” living.
Outside-in living is where they are focusing on doing over and above how they are being. People think their results create their happiness. They focus on the outside world for validation and recognition. They drive themselves to create, create, create, do, do, do, more, more, more, strive, strive, strive.
All of this without any acknowledgement of the fact that what they create and their entire happiness DEPENDS on their inner state of being first and foremost.
That means it depends on their paradigm – their beliefs, giving rise to their thoughts and generating their feeling processes. All of which they can consciously manage and direct, and thus manage any overwhelm as a result.
Take Back Your Power
Below are several key steps to help you “unpick” your overwhelm.
Then if you truly want to get out of overwhelm, I want you to change your paradigm, so that you have a healthy and accurate perspective of yourself and your life, getting you out of the limiting paradigm that society has conditioned you into.
It's time to FREE YOURSELF from the mind-made illusions that produce overwhelm.
With a healthy new paradigm, liberating your mind, you can take on A LOT in your daily life (responsibilities, commitments, task) and still maintain a sense of inner peace no matter what goes on day to day.
You've got to get your inner state set up solidly as a priority, so that you do have the capacity and energy to cope with a significant outer volume of demands, activity and pressure if you wish to.
If you continue to put pressure on a shaky foundation, it will eventually cave. You don't want that! I don't want that happening to you!
Below are some simple steps and questions to prompt you (in video and written format) to stand back and look at your overwhelm in new light today, and to regain control.
1. Identify the Extent
Is your overwhelm situational or pervasive?
This means are you primarily overwhelmed about a particular thing or series of things in your life, and outside of those situations you are able to find some ease?
OR, is the overwhelm pervading every area of your life, at all times, no matter where you are or what you do and it's not seemingly stemming from any individual commitment or situation?
This helps you gain clarity. Clarity gives a sense of empowerment, as you know what your starting point is.
2. Identify the Longevity
Is your overwhelm based on circumstances which you know are only temporary, or is the overwhelm related to something in your life that is seemingly “here to stay”.
What this really means is – can you see a light at the end of the tunnel because the triggers for your overwhelm are only passing through your life experience, or not?
This helps you gain clarity. Clarity gives a sense of empowerment, as you know what your starting point is.
3. Identify What Shifts Are Critical
You always have 3 options to empowered change in your life, no matter what is going on.
a) You change your way of BEING (inner – your paradigm, based on beliefs, giving rise to thoughts and feelings)
b) You change your way of DOING (outer – your actions, behavior, circumstances)
c) You change both your way of being and your way of doing simultaneously (shift your perspective and take new action)
In relation to your overwhelm, look now at what needs to shift and what you can change.
A shift in your paradigm is ALWAYS available to you and always important when in overwhelm. It is a must.
A shift in your actions/circumstances can also sometimes be important and possible. However, if you just change what you do and where you are with no regard to your inner state of being, then you simply carry the same old inner paradigm with you.
This means the potential is there for overwhelm to create over and over again in the future in the face of new triggers.
Ideally, getting out of overwhelm involves both a shift in your paradigm (bringing brand new perspective and new inner tools to work with) and a shift in your actions (thus affecting your circumstances).
4. Give Up Your Story
Most people who are in overwhelm have a story that keeps them stuck in it. This affects their ability to change their inner way of being and their outer way of doing.
If that is you, I empathize because I've been there.
But I also want to call you out on it, because you won't get out of overwhelm unless you start to see things in new light. Click here for more support with seeing and dropping your story.
Sometimes we get a little bit addicted to the drama of the cycle and stay trapped in a perspective about what is or isn't possible. We totally miss the fact that we could shift things if we would just release our attachment to our story for a moment and see things from a new angle.
The story that usually keeps people stuck is a combination of:
- I can't change my actions/circumstances because…. (list any number of reasons)
- I can't get out of this commitment/I have to do this because…. (sometimes valid reasons, sometimes not so valid)
- There is no other way to perceive/be about this because it's stressful/awful…. (this doesn't serve you, because stress, fear and related feelings are all symptoms of your perspective. And, a new perspective is ALWAYS available once you break down your story)
Once you look at your story, you will start to see what is keeping you stuck in overwhelm.
If you look at your 3 options for change (see the above section: “Identify What Shifts Are Critical”) and then look at your story, start to write down what you can shift inside yourself or outside of yourself to alleviate the overwhelm.
If you start to say, “But I can't because….” then your story is keeping you stuck.
In that case, I suggest you play a game that goes like this…
If I put all my reasons, evidence, excuses and blocks aside, and if anything was possible, and if those “buts” weren't real, what could I change inside myself or outside myself to move out of this overwhelm?
If “buts” are blocking you – click here to get my free guide 7 Buts You Must Kick in the Butt to shine a light and breakthrough!
We have this incredible way of blocking ourselves with these stories. For example, “I can't do that…” or “I must do that….” and leading ourselves down a one-way road to misery because we can't see any possibility for how things could be different.
Often when you drill down, with a little support to move past your own perspective, you'll find that there are many paths to any outcome. There are many ways to create small changes. There are many ways to rebalance priorities and many ways to reconnect to your inner self in order to regain control over your life experience.
It may be that you need a small inner shift. Or it may be that you need to totally change what you do (how you spend your time). The prospect of changing your life that way can be really scary – more stories can cycle out of that, like:
- I can't stop that because X relies on me
- I can't change that because that would mean I've failed
- I can't give less time to X because that would be rude/selfish
- X will judge me if I'm not doing Y and I don't know how to manage that
- Financially it's not possible, so money has to be come before my sanity and holistic health
And, I'll tell you right now, there are positive answers to ALL of the above.
You must first shift your inner perspective, and that will move your energy. Your energy is creating your life, so as soon as you shift your energy this way then things in your life will start to open up and change for the better.
Even if you haven't taken any action externally yet… just a shift in your energy vibration will begin the transformation of circumstances. You will start to come out of overwhelm and into balance.
For more help with dropping your story, click here to watch my coaching vlog on how to “Rapidly Breakthrough When Feeling Stuck“.
After the above, look really closely at exactly what you think is the external trigger for your overwhelm.
Remember – what is going on around you or in your circumstance is a trigger, not the root cause.
The root cause is always your disconnection from yourself. However, that sits below some external trigger that you can point to that seems to make you feel overwhelmed.
Look at your circumstances and all that you have going on in life, and ask yourself:
- What can I stop doing?
- What can I start doing?
- What can I remove from my life?
- What can I adjust?
- Where can I spend less time and reserve more energy?
- What can I add that will help me rebalance?
- What does my physical body need?
- Am I spending my time and energy on people/things/situations that are meaningless to me but I don't know how to extricate myself from?
- What does my intuition tell me that I need right now for mental and emotional relief?
- What is essential that I continue with?
- What is non-essential that I have made a priority and that I am stuck believing I must do?
- What are the major things I feel I can't manage/get away from or rebalance? Are these REALLY TRULY do-or-die? (Tip – often what we think can't be changed, or we wish we could walk away from or adjust, seems like do-or-die. But in reality it's often not. It's our default perspective that makes it so. Lucky for all of us – we can change our perspective just because we choose to)
- Have I linked my self-worth to any of these things I am trying hard to do/be that are causing me stress/burn-out? Is that why I can't seem to pull back and rebalance myself, because I've linked my value to them?
- Have I put external commitments over and above my very core physical, human needs to be well?
- Do I realize that I must rebalance right now (either inside, or outside, or both) because first and foremost life is about being happy, well and balanced? Do I see that everything else beyond that is a dance, a game, a play with life… all of which depends upon me being healthy and sane in order to participate? What if I keel over because I cannot sustain this overwhelm any longer?!
6. Anchor Yourself with Rituals
Often the overwhelm takes control when we do not have a counter balance in place for the stress, busyness and mind noise.
It is ESSENTIAL at all times of your life, no matter your age or circumstances, to have well-being rituals. These support you to be physically, mentally and emotionally at your best.
Well-being is not something that happens by mistake. It is something you choose and create.
Two people could be faced with the exact same circumstances and pressures. One person may sink because those pressures are the only thing they are giving their energy, time and focus to. The other person may sustain and manage the situation with greater ease because they are BALANCING the challenges with equally powerful positive energy through rituals.
Rituals are any activity or experience you consciously create and repeat over and over again for your benefit. This might be on a daily or weekly basis. These are activities specifically chosen by you because you know they help you.
They make you happy and relax you. They revitalize and rebalance you. They help you to stay present, by quietening the noise in your mind. They remind you of the deeper meaning in your life. They nourish your mind/body/soul.
I call rituals “Life Anchors”, because they ground and stabilize you as a regular practice, so that in stormy or busy times you don't get so knocked around by events/pressure.
The thing with rituals is this – they are not a “sometimes” practice. They are an “always” practice, meaning you don't turn to them when you hit rock bottom, and then drop them when you feel better.
Instead, you create them and live them all the time, because you know they are what keep you in balance in the good times and in the challenging times.
Often in crisis and overwhelm, people drop whatever isn't a necessity in order to free up time/space/energy to “cope” with the stress and pressure.
And guess what they keep? The things that cause them overwhelm!
And guess what they drop? The rituals that keep them in balance, health and happiness.
Strange uh! So strange! But that is what most people do. So, to avoid that, you can identify the rituals that will support you, put them in place, prioritize them and STICK to them consistently. Here is an article specifically about Life Anchors – The Importance of Life Anchors.
Such holistic well-being rituals can be as simple as basic daily meditation practice / daily deep breathing practice.
So, right now, if you are in overwhelm and you take nothing else from this blog, please please please please just implement just 10 minutes every day of deep breathing in stillness with your eyes closed.
Deep, slow breathing, while focusing your awareness on your breathing will help to quiet the noise in your mind. It will connect your mind/body/soul together and give you a sense of personal control.
Audios to Help You Get Out of Overwhelm
Click below for more resources to support a daily meditation practice and/or deep breathing practice to help you counter balance any overwhelm you are experiencing:
- Affirmations Audio for a Stress Relieving Mindset Shift
- 7 Minute Daily Breathing Meditation for Presence & Calm
Proactive & Reactive Strategy for Overwhelm
You can use audios like those mentioned above as the basis for a 10 minute proactive daily ritual to bring a sense of calm (e.g early morning when you get up, during your lunch break, or just before bedtime). AND, most importantly, any time you are in overwhelm while going about your daily routine, in reaction to that feeling here's what to do…
- Pause for a moment when feeling the overwhelm
- Go into a quiet place if you can for a couple of minutes (the bathroom, leave your desk/office for a moment and go outside, even if you are in a group setting just stand back a few feet).
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply and tune into the present moment (which helps you tune out of the noise in your mind).
- Remind yourself over and over again…
If these resources have been helpful in supporting you out of overwhelm, I'd love to hear. To share your experience or feedback, please scroll down to leave a comment below.
With love, Bernadette