Do You Ever Feel Like It’s All Just Too Much to Handle? Try These.
It’s ok to admit that sometimes things are just ‘too much’. We tend to distract ourselves the moment we begin to feel overwhelmed, piling things on our plates until we’re ready to crack.
But what is actually causing you to feel that way?
It’s important to acknowledge when you’re feeling the pressure and work out what is causing you to feel that way.
Only then, will you have the strength and knowledge to change your habits and pull yourself out of what you’re feeling.
Although a lot of our worries are out of our control, there are 6 important things you can do right now, to reduce the feeling of overwhelm
1. Categorise your complaints
There’s a little principle I learnt last summer, known as the stress-reducing TOP method;
Totally in my control
Out of my control
Partially in my control
Make a list of at least three things occupying your mind right now. These might be:
- Unhealthy food choices and tight fitting clothes
- People not behaving how you expect them to
- Extreme fatigue from health conditions
Categorise them using the TOP method. With the list above, I’d say that the first point was totally in my control. I could eat better foods or go on more walks, for example.
The second and third points are partially in my control. I could avoid judging someone by their actions, and be understanding of the fact there could be more to the story than I’m aware of. I could also give up expecting them to behave a certain way (out of my control.)
Although my health conditions are mostly out of my control, I could help reduce fatigue by sleeping earlier, watching less Netflix and drinking less caffeine than I do.
There might be some things on your list that you realise you have no control over at all. If this is the case, remind yourself that there’s nothing you can do. Whilst hard at first, the important thing here is to let go of them, accept they are out of control and preserve your energy, so you can focus on the things you can control.
2. Find the root cause
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in today’s society. Our brains operate at 100 miles per hour and we have an ever growing list of things to do with limited time. But rarely do we stop to acknowledge what is actually causing us to feel overwhelmed, and the reason it has such an adverse effect on our lives.
First, take a moment to note down your overwhelming thoughts or items on your to-do list.
Next, stop and ask yourself what about these items is causing you to feel overwhelmed by them.
3. Transform your story
Our thoughts often make us unhappier than the situation itself. It’s usually our own imaginary scenarios, expectations or the stories we tell ourselves that lead to unhappiness. This can be seen with the ‘categorise complaints’ example.
When we write down our stressors and decide on the steps we can and will take, we see that there are some things we simply have zero control over. But, our negative self-talk is what makes these scenarios much worse than they are.
To combat this, start paying attention to the thoughts you have. Take a moment to establish:
- Where the story or narrative came from
- What evidence you have to support it
- Whether this story is helping you or holding you back in areas of your life
Once you tune into the stories you are telling yourself, you can decide whether or not you want to live by them. What you make of your situation affects the experience you’ll have.
4. Focus on the step in front
Don’t focus on the whole task ahead of you. Instead, just break things down into little manageable chunks that you can handle. Last month, I sat next to an old man on a flight to Barcelona. It was a white-knuckle ride for me, as I’ve overtime developed an irrational fear of flying. He could see this and started talking to distract me.
“I used to be the same as you,” he said. “I had so much anxiety inside of me that I could barely get out of bed in the mornings when I knew I had to fly.” So, what did you do? I asked him.
“I reminded myself that I could physically leave whenever I wanted to. And that stands for most things in life. Sure I had work and commitments and felt like I needed to fly. But I was also in control of my health. I told myself, just get yourself up and see how you feel. If that feels too much, then go back to bed. When that was ok, I told myself I just had to get dressed, then pack, and then get in the taxi. If at any point it felt too much, I kept reminding myself that I didn’t have to get on the plane. Before I knew it, I was going the full distance because it all felt manageable.”
It’s so simple but one of the most powerful pieces of advice I’ve ever received; you can always leave when you want to.
5. Stop shoulding on yourself
We feel additional pressures when we believe we should be doing more or should be acting a certain way. The “should” word dangerously implies that we’re doing something wrong or could be doing more than we are. It increases the disappointment and overwhelm we feel when we aren’t doing something.
You can reduce the unnecessary stress and pressure on yourself simply by changing your language to something more empowering. Swap out the “should” for wants or musts instead, and notice instantly how much more calm and controlled you feel.
6. Remember this feeling is fleeting
We begin to feel more overwhelmed the moment we believe our current situation is permanent. We imagine scenarios and tell ourselves “I can’t cope with this forever” or “how could I possibly have the strength to battle through this everyday?” But it’s helpful to remember that the feeling is fleeting, and often only something we feel at our worst times.
I used to torture myself with these thoughts when I’d walk down the street and see everything moving. How could I possibly live forever with this constantly moving world? But, I’d sleep and feel different the next day. My eyesight didn’t change, the world still spins. But I began to understand that certain times are worse than others. I no longer allow myself to get overwhelmed with ‘forever’ and instead focus on the fact the feeling is fleeting. My ability to cope fluctuates, meaning I can have good days as well as difficult ones.
Start to note down times that are worse for you. Are there certain triggers or situations that make you feel worse? Tune into these so you feel more in control and take comfort knowing that your ability to cope will fluctuate too.