6 Things You Can Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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In this day and age it seems wildly easy to feel overwhelmed.

I’ve definitely had my share of days where I felt like I couldn’t manage one more thing.

In fact, it wasn’t too long ago when I had the feeling that I was looking up at my life… seeing all the chaos going on… but feeling like I didn’t have an ounce of ability to change anything. I just felt far too depleted.

Luckily I’m in a MUCH better place now, and that’s greatly thanks to some of the tips I mention below. I know there are MANY things you can do, but to avoid overwhelming you more, I’m giving you my top 6. All of them are excellent in helping you manage overwhelm:

1. Choose one or two main things to work on. A lot of times stress is generated because you have a lot of competing priorities and not enough time or focus to work on all of them.

So let’s say you’re working on 5 different projects.

The first thing I’d suggest is to look at NOT having all of those projects if you can.

How many of them are really bringing you in revenue or other major value? A lot of times we work on things because it’s easy to stay busy. We don’t think about WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. If the projects you’re working on aren’t contributing much to you… it’s time to cancel them.

And for the projects you have left, I recommend focusing on one or two per day. My friend Ernest recommends “shrink wrapping” your days.

So let’s say you need to work on marketing, content creation, running through your finances, and call-making. Ernest suggests doing one thing per day. So all of Monday, work on marketing. All of Tuesday, work on content creation, Wednesday work on finances, and so forth.

Our brains were NOT made to multitask, so honing in your focus and having as few priorities as possible should help you a lot.

2. Change your physical state. A few weekends ago I was at a business retreat and had to give a presentation to a group. We were learning how to become effective presenters and I was charged with the task of making everyone in the room feel liberated.

Basically, people in the room would stand up once they had the feeling of liberation in their body. I had to keep trying different techniques until everyone in the room was standing.

I began the presentation by telling a story that was a bit intense and sad, thinking that I’d get towards the end and tell them how the story changed, manufacturing the feeling of liberation…

However, the facilitator interrupted me and told me to try a different method – one that would get people to “liberation” much faster.

I tried a new strategy using hypnosis, but people were still feeling really intense from what I’d said before. It was very hard to shake them from the intensity of what I had been talking about. I was doing my best but everyone still felt way too intense to be able to even think of feeling liberation.

So I asked everyone get up, jump up and down, move their limbs, shake their jaw, make some noise.

By doing this, they felt WAY better. And 2/3 of them immediately stood up and said they felt liberated.

Changing your physical state is a great way to knock yourself out of a feeling.

(This is also why exercise works so well.)

3. Infuse magic in your work environment. One of our Staying Accountable clients recently told me that she was having a hard time getting things done.

I mentioned that it might help her to create a work space that she loves to work in. One that’s organized, maybe has great music playing (I love classical music for work), has beauty around her (fresh flowers perhaps, or candles, or pictures of people she loves).

By working in a space that feels good, it feels remarkably easier to get things done.

She immediately wrote back and said, “Wow, you’re right! I remember one time I worked from Dunkin Donuts and the motown music was playing in the background and it felt so good to work there. It was so much easier than working in my cluttered office with breakables and interruptions. I got things done much faster!”

4. Take a deep breath. This might sound obvious, but it’s incredible how helpful it is when you actually do it. Worrying can take up a LOT of energy. Deep breathing helps your body balance out and delivers you a sense of perspective.

To deep breathe correctly, make sure to get your stomach involved. You should deep breathe from your gut so that with every breath in and out, your stomach rises and falls.

Work up to a 8 seconds of breathing in, then 8 seconds of breathing out.

Do this a few times. I like to go 10 times or so. By then, my sense of peace is far greater and I’m able to step out of overwhelm.

5. Ask for help. I highly recommend asking other people for help when you’re feeling stressed. This could look like outsourcing, or asking your friends for ideas to make things easier, or signing up for Staying Accountable.

Just yesterday I was reminded of how much other people can help. I’d mentioned to a friend that I was feeling overwhelmed about something (yes, me too ;)). I don’t even know why I told my friend because I didn’t think she could really help, but she ended up giving me really great feedback.

She helped me get clear on realizing why I should cancel a project. She also offered a suggestion that ended up saving me $3k/month ($36k a year!) and alleviated a lot of stress going on in the back of my mind.

Other people are able to have perspective on things that we just can’t see. So it makes sense to have as many of them in your corner as possible.

6. Organize your projects. I love making long-term goal lists and then working backwards from them. This helps me know that everything I’m doing has a purpose. You can learn more about this here.

:)

What do you think? Does this help you?

What are some of YOUR favorite tips to manage overwhelm?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts! :)

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4 thoughts on “6 Things You Can Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed”

  1. This was a very helpful post Rachel. Someone really close to me just said a few really mean things to me that is making me feel really really down. There is a part of me that just wants to punch him in the face. Anyway, happy thoughts. It’s not worth it focusing on such things. I am just going to focus on my task at hand and that’s it.

  2. Very good Rachel! I’ve done some of those things but it’s good to have it clearly laid out and explained as you did. Recently, I decided that choosing one focus for the day is good. For example if I’m editing chapters in my book, I do those. Another day I’ll write blog posts and another day something else. I group like tasks. Also, I joined a productivity group to hold me accountable and that has made a huge difference in moving my business forward.

    Thanks for writing this. Very helpful!

  3. Great tips, Rachel! I needed this today – I'm in project overwhelm. I try to do too much at once. I also appreciate the deep breath and changing your physical state advice. Quick fixes that really help.

  4. Great tips, Rachel! I needed this today – I'm in project overwhelm. I try to do too much at once. I also appreciate the deep breath and changing your physical state advice. Quick fixes that really help.

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