6 Things to Consider When You Feel Chronically Overwhelmed

Do you ever look at your to-do list and feel the panic set in because there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it? You’re not alone!

To eliminate overwhelm, people swear by productivity hacks, prioritization strategies, and making big tasks bite-sized. Don’t get me wrong, these can all be helpful – but they will treat the symptom of overwhelm, not the root cause. Let’s talk about a few other ways you can manage your overwhelm so you’re rocking your life and it’s not rocking you.

1. First thing first: welcome your overwhelm

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out! Usually, when we feel overwhelmed we see it as a problem. And as humans, when we experience a problem, the first thing we do is rush to fix it. Or worse, we blame ourselves for having the problem in the first place.

What if just for a moment, your overwhelm wasn’t a problem? What if it’s just something you’re experiencing because it’s a thing that happens when you’re a human on this earth?

Nothing has gone wrong. Take a big, slow, deep breath in through your nose, and exhale out of your mouth like you’re trying to fog up a mirror. I’m serious – pause and do it!

How can you feel your overwhelm and just be with it without trying to fix it or eliminate it? What message is the overwhelm trying to tell you?

2. How often are you saying yes when you mean no?

There are times when we say yes to things we don’t want to do because we like our reasons for doing so. For example, you might say yes to your best friend’s bar crawl bachelorette party because you want to support her even though bars and drinking aren’t really your vibe. 

Saying yes when you want to say no gets tricky when the reason you’re doing it is because you feel like you “have to” to avoid disappointing or upsetting other people. That creates a big energy leak in your life and creates a fast track to resentment and burn out.

Time is the most precious and valuable resource that you have. If you viewed your time and energy like gold, would you still hand it out so freely? 

3. Intentionally fill your plate

Is your metaphorical life plate full of nourishing foods you love to eat, but you’ve realized there’s simply too much of it and there’s no way you can eat it all? Or is it full of foods you don’t like that you’re forcing yourself to choke down?

When you’re overwhelmed because too many great things are happening, that is different than being overwhelmed because you don’t like the majority of things you spend your time on.

Do you like the way your life is set up? If you look at an average day, do you like it? Would you want to live that day for the rest of your life? If not, it might be time to re-assess how you spend your time and if that honors what’s important to you.

4. Change your perspective about your to-do list

The funny thing about to-do lists is that they never truly end. It’s like a CVS receipt, that baby goes on for miles.

If you base your success on whether or not you complete the items on your to-do list or how close you are to the end of it, you will be chronically overwhelmed. The end of a to-do list is a moving target.

What if the goal shifts from getting things done to enjoying what you’re doing?

This can be done by creating more space in your day for rest or joy and/or making the blah, routine parts of life more fun. Have to clean the house? Listen to your favorite music or podcast. Need to workout? Go for a walk in the sun. Need to pay bills? Eat your favorite snack while doing it.

While not everything will always be fun, there are ways where you can infuse more of it into the things you’re already doing.

5. Speaking of rest…

Rest has become a buzzword in the personal development world with everyone and their cat preaching how vital rest is. I don’t disagree.

But what I see happen with rest is that people “rest” with the purpose of being rejuvenated so they can be more productive. It makes rest a means to an end instead of what it actually is – something you experience for the sake of experiencing it.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, but you don’t have to fill your cup just so you can empty it again. You can fill it up just because you want it to be full.

A note on resting when you’re overwhelmed or not used to rest – it can be really difficult to let yourself relax. As odd as it sounds, resting is a skill. So if it feels bad at first and you’re preoccupied with everything you need to get done, that’s okay. You’re not doing it wrong. Your brain may naturally wander, but stay committed and bring yourself back to the present moment.

6. Phone a friend

As a feminine-essenced being, you are a natural receiver. When you don’t ask for help because you feel like you “should” be able to handle it all or it makes you a burden to others, your inner feminine doesn’t feel nourished because she loves to receive with gratitude. Don’t shun that part of yourself because you don’t feel worthy of support.

If you were honest with yourself, what would feel incredible to delegate to another person? What would feel like a huge sigh of relief if you didn’t have to do it anymore? Think about who might be able to help you with that and go have a conversation with them! We can’t make it through life without support systems. Don’t be afraid to lean on yours.

Everyone feels overwhelmed by their to-do lists sometimes, and productivity and time management hacks can be really helpful. But if what you’re doing isn’t cutting it, it’s time to reflect on what your overwhelm is telling you about how you show up in your life and what (and who) you make yourself available for.

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