Ever have the sense that things are getting out of hand? That there’s too much to do and you just can’t cope? We’ve all been there. In a digital age where it’s hard to put the smart phone down and with so many things to get done in a day – it’s no surprise that things can sometimes feel out of control.
Feeling overwhelmed is one of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety, and one that can really interfere with getting on with loving life. According to Chloe Brotheridge, a London-based calm coach who helps women to become their calmest, happiest selves, there are a number of ways to future-proof yourself from feeling this way.
Ready to take action? Here are what Chloe says, are 7 possible things causing you overwhelm and what you can do right now to overcome them!
YOUR TO-DO LIST
If you’re anything like me, your to-do list is never ending, ever expanding and can sometimes feel like you’re standing at the bottom of Everest with no idea how you’ll get on top of it. The truth is, that you’ll never ‘get caught up’ or ‘finish’ your to do list, because there are always things being added to it.
So I do as ‘super coach’ Michael Neil suggests and I write two lists alongside each other on two post it notes. On the post-it on the right hand side I write the things I’d like to get done that day, and on the left hand post-it I write ‘The only thing I have to do today’ and then one of the things from the right hand list. After I’ve completed that task, I cross it out and write another thing from the right hand list under ‘The one thing I have to do today’.
That way I never feel overwhelmed by my to do list – after all, there’s only ever one thing I need to do!
Although it’s an incredible way to connect and learn about new things, social media has a dark side. Not only is it remarkably time sapping (who else has had that sense of overwhelm when you realise 10 minutes on Facebook turned into 2 hours and you discover how much work you actually have to do?!) but it can contribute to a sense that we’re missing out on something.
Everyone is posting their life’s highlight reel and if you’ve got your head down and you’re trying to work, the feeling that everyone else is having more fun than you can add to a sense of dissatisfaction and anxiety. If this causes you problems, try to keep social media usage to a minimum or unfollow people who trigger negative emotions in you. You could try the app AntiSocial which blocks certain websites within certain timeframes so that you can focus on other things without distraction.
YOUR SMART PHONE
I was once a person at the beck and call of my mobile. If it beeped, I jumped to see what new Tweet, Facebook update or email had come my way. I also felt compelled to reply right away. Having something beeping at you and vying for your attention is bound to make you feel overwhelmed, especially when you also have lots going on in the real world too. In 2013, I switched off alerts on my phone, so that I now have to actually go into the Facebook or Twitter app to find out about new updates. I have to say it was a life changer!
I’m more able to focus and get things done and I don’t feel the need to reply to every Tweet or email several times a day. Take it a step further and do as Tim Ferris suggests in his book, ‘The 4 Hour Work Week‘, and only check your email twice a day. It might be hard at first but the time it frees up and the peace of mind it creates make it worth it.
NOT TAKING ENOUGH TIME FOR YOURSELF
We hear a lot about the importance of self care these days but so often, even though we know we should be taking a walk at lunch time, or going to that yoga class, sometimes life gets in the way and it takes a back seat. Business and life coach Marie Forleo has a saying; ‘If it’s not scheduled in, it’s not happening’. Can you start to treat self care with the same reverence as you would a business meeting? Schedule it in and make sure you stick to it. Rest is as important as activity; see it as valuable time to recharge, leaving you stronger and more inspired than beforehand.
THE NEED TO BE PERFECT
There’s a difference between wanting things to be good and to do a good job, and the need that many of us have these days, for things to be ‘perfect’. If you have this sense that what you do is never good enough, you might be setting the standards for yourself unrealistically high.
The truth is, perfection is only ever another persons perception; it doesn’t actually exist. Often perfectionists will keep raising the bar for themselves to impossible heights, never feeling satisfied with what they’ve achieved. If this is you, try to take a step back and look at things as if from another persons perspective. Is what you’re striving for realistic or necessary? Can you settle for ‘good enough’ instead? Remember that you are lovable, worthwhile and valuable, flaws and all. You are also a work in progress, constantly moving forward and getting better as you learn. Take the pressure off yourself.
YOU CAN’T SAY NO
Do you find it hard to say no to things? Often we want to please or help other people, we want to move forward in business or we don’t want to miss out, so we say ‘yes’ to things that we might be better off declining. As productivity master and author of ‘Getting Things Done‘ David Allen says, ‘You can do anything, but not everything‘.
If you’ve got too much on, what can you filter out and let go of? If you’re worried about the guilt of saying no, remember that the quality of what you do say yes to will be so much richer, and you’ll have more energy for the project and people that you love.
I occasionally get the feeling that all the things I have to do, between now and next year, are happening right now, simultaneously, in my whirring mind!
When we live in the future, rather than in the present moment, it’s easy to feel as though things are getting on top of us. I’m sure you’ve heard this many a time, but meditation is simply the best solution for staying more present and dealing with life in the here and now, one thing at a time. Apps like Headspace make it most accessible, while yoga centres and Buddhist centres will often have group meditation classes you can join.
Despite living in a crazy, hectic world, peace of mind is possible, but it only happens on purpose, don’t leave it to chance. Carve out time for yourself, learn to unplug and remember that you’re here to enjoy and ‘be’, not just to ‘do’.
Chloe Brotheridge is a calm coach at www.calmer-you.com helping women to become their calmest, happiest selves. When not blogging or seeing clients, Chloe is attempting to create up the perfect sugar-free brownie, annoying her neighbours with her singing or trying to lose her self in one of London’s parks.