Do you feel overwhelmed on a regular basis? Particularly with your health? Overwhelm has become a constant state of life for many women.
It leaves you feeling defeated, stressed, anxious, irritable and without joy in your life. In this episode, I share why overwhelm is actually a choice we can choose not to feel in our life and my tips to act in your life to overcome it.
Before I jump into the material for today, I want to invite you to join me in my FREE workshop “2 Steps to Overcome Overwhelm.”
This is an interactive workshop and is designed to help you overcome the feelings of overwhelm. I hope you’ll join me!
The Need for Self-Awareness
One of my core teachings with my clients is the need for self-awareness. It’s literally the #1 skillset I want my clients to walk away with when we finish working together.
It’s simple, really. Because nobody can take it away from you. And because your mind follows you everywhere you go. Whatever situation you’re in, your mind is there with you.
It’s easy to know what you decisions you should make on paper. It’s easy to write out a plan to follow or make some goals.
What isn’t easy is doing the right thing when your emotions are ruling you.
But when you have a healthy self-awareness, you remove the emotion from the decision and take a more neutral stance, which leads to making decisions that lead to less overwhelm.
A Society of Stress
44 percent of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago. In the past 20 years, our society has seen a 60 percent increase in productivity, and to no great surprise, a majority of American adults are reporting that job-related issues are their main source of stress.
As a society, we are bombarded with information at a rate that we can’t process. There isn’t a lack of information in our world; there is a lack of time to do anything with it all.
So, when we want to introduce something new into our life, we don’t have any space to do so.
A Bad Case of the Mondays
I can so relate to this feeling of stress and being completely overwhelmed. When my husband, Justin and I decided to start our family, we knew that our goal was for me to be able to stay at home with our kids.
I was working as a high-school teacher and had been for 10 years.
I started a side gig so that I could grow it into something that I could do once I started staying home with our babies.
As it grew, I found myself working 2 nearly full-time jobs. I began to dread Mondays because I felt like I had no time off.
My list of things I needed to accomplish kept growing but the amount of time to get it all done didn’t. I was frustrated, Justin was frustrated, and I knew that something had to change.
I had zero margin in my life and it sucked big-time.
But what I came to realize was that feeling overwhelmed was a choice I was making. That’s right; I was choosing to feel overwhelmed.
What Is Overwhelm?
I’ve been using the word “overwhelm” a lot at this point so let’s stop for a minute and get on the same page as to what I mean:
Overwhelm is being defeated completely; giving too much of something to someone.
This is how my personal sense of overwhelm was playing out. I was giving away too much of myself to everyone else and absolutely nothing to myself.
Some of the symptoms of feeling overwhelmed are:
- Tightness in the chest
- Racing heartbeat
- Anxious thoughts
- Easily irritated, snappy
- Lack of joy
You may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms and not even realizing that it’s overwhelm that’s causing them.
Choose Your Story
I talk often on this podcast about the brain; first, because it’s such a fascinating thing to discuss, but secondly, because the brain is constantly telling us stories.
If you have a really crazy week one week, and you feel completely overwhelmed, your brain takes that information in and stores it away. You may feel several physical symptoms like a racing heart or being especially short-tempered.
But let’s say the next week is back to a more normal schedule and there’s no reason to feel the slightest bit overwhelmed.
The problem is that your brain remembers what last Monday was like, how overwhelmed you felt and the symptoms you had.
And here it is Monday again. So, guess what your brain does for you as a favor?
That’s right. It gives you all the feelings from last week to conserve energy. You don’t have to think about being overwhelmed or stress out over what you have to do.
Your brain does it all for you. Free of charge. And it will continue to do this for you until you tell it a different story.
What Are You Telling Yourself?
If I start thinking on Sunday evening how much I have to do in the upcoming week, that it’s too much, that I’ll never get it all done…my body will believe me.
And as my body starts to believe what I’m telling it, the physical symptoms begin.
Here’s where the game can change though:
I can change my thoughts and thereby change the way I react to them.
Listen, I know that it feels all too real when your heart is racing and you feel anxious about everything you have to do.
But just because we experience a physical symptom doesn’t make something real.
Did I have to shift my thinking in some pretty major ways? Uh, yes!! But here’s how I changed my thoughts –
Instead of saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so overwhelmed with what all I have to accomplish this week. I’ll never get it all done”, I started saying, “I am being blessed with endless opportunities this week. Endless opportunities are a gift, and I am going to embrace them as such.”
Overwhelm Is a Sneaky B*astard
Once you learn to deal with the glaring feelings of overwhelm you’ve been having, you might think you’re free and clear.
Not so fast.
Overwhelm will often try to sneak in the back door through thoughts or even things you verbalize, like:
- “I’m sorry, but I’m too busy to do that.”
- “That’s too hard. Thanks, but I’ll find an easier way.”
- “You’re like a unicorn! You’re just so good at handling everything that comes your way.”
Now, it’s one thing to recognize these thoughts; it’s another thing entirely to actually make a plan for dealing with them. We need a strategy.
I deal with these thoughts with clients in the same way I deal with other things like health, exercise, and food.
We assign them a name and we make a plan for the week that directly deals with them.
The thing is, if you live in a constant state of overwhelm, your brain isn’t going to allow you to add a single thing to your life. So, you have to deal with those emotions and feelings before you can move forward.
Why Are We All So Overwhelmed?
Why is overwhelm such a problem? I believe there are a few things that brought us here.
- Being a people pleaser. If you are constantly worried about pleasing everyone, you are most likely feeling pretty overwhelmed most of the time.
- An inability to say no. If you say yes to everyone all the time, you have to learn to say no to the things that don’t bring you joy. If it’s not a, “Hell, YEAH,” it’s a no.
I actually have clients that were packing lunches for their kids and even their husbands but weren’t packing anything for themselves.
Hear me: this is a fundamental belief issue. Too many women believe that to receive love. and affection, and recognition, you have to give all of yourself away to others. We have to rewire these thoughts in our brains.
How to Rewire the Brain
Okay, Amanda, you say I need to rewire my thoughts, and that I can choose not to feel overwhelmed. How do I do it?
- Reprioritize yourself. You need to become one of the people you seek to please. This is not easy, folks. We have to take an objective look at our lives and account for the time and energy we spend each day. Where are we wasting time that we could take for ourselves? Are we doing things inefficiently? Do we hate many of the things we do?
- Focus on one thing at a time. It’s time to stop trying to do all the things all the time. Multi-tasking doesn’t work, friends. Choose one thing that you know would bring you joy and focus on incorporating it into your life. Slowly build on that one thing over time.
I want you to walk away from this conversation with the understanding that overwhelm is a feeling we choose. It’s a story we tell ourselves over and over again.
We can choose to change the story. I am here to support you. Your first step is to sign up for my free workshop.
There may be many layers of this onion that you have to peel back before you get to all the root causes. If you don’t know where to start, I am here to help.
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