I have always been a huge proponent of the “work until you’re dead” mindset. I know, I know – it’s unhealthy, it’s stupid, and it’s not what life is all about. But over time, I’ve slowly learned that overwhelming myself is not necessary or good for me, and I’ve come to a better understanding of what to do when I am overwhelmed.
In this post, I am talking about those sudden bursts of overwhelm. If you’re feeling constantly, consistently anxious or overspent, that’s a different conversation. I’ve found that meditation and breathing techniques have helped a lot with this over time, but I’ve also gained so much from talking to my doctor about how I’m feeling and being open about it.
1. Go for a walk.
When I worked from home, things got wacky, very quickly, and at the beginning, I often would lock myself down until it was dealt with. But I learned very quickly that the more I made myself deal with whatever was causing me stress without taking the time to breathe, I felt worse and ended up drained and exhausted, and my patience wore thin.
After that, every time things got a little wacky, I took 5 minutes, left my phone in the house and took Theo out for a quick walk around the apartment complex. I loved that for five or so minutes, I focused entirely on Theo – does he need to potty, is he walking like he’s supposed to, does he behave well when he meets a new person or a dog? – and not on the immense to do list I left inside the house.
And if whatever I left behind couldn’t wait five minutes… well, that was fine.
2. Drink an entire glass of water.
Get up from your desk, fill a glass with water and drink the entire glass.
Not only are you probably not drinking enough water, but this is a simple, easy task that clears your mind and can be done anywhere you are.
3. Fold laundry or make your bed.
Maybe folding laundry isn’t relaxing to most people, but both folding laundry and making the bed are easy, monotonous tasks that are probably low on your to do list but will need to get done eventually.
You’ll feel so much better to say, “Hey, I did this thing!” than you will if you keep pushing yourself to get stuff done.
Feeling overwhelmed in an office or another space without household tasks?
Look for another simple task that you’ve been putting off – do you need to rinse out your coffee mug? Do you need to take a document to another department or run to the post office? Is your office plant looking a little droopy and in need of watering? Finish something easy that you’ve been putting off.
4. Write down 10 things you’re excited about.
Whether that’s the date night you’ve got planned or the delicious dinner you’re about to make, give yourself a list of things to look forward to. I love doing this in my bullet journal – I can look back on it whenever I need a little push, and just writing some happy things down brings me back to center.
5. Call your mom.
This is the only one where technology is encouraged, but at least you aren’t staring at a screen. You don’t have to call your mom, necessarily, although I usually will – call your dad, or your significant other, or your child, or your best friend.
Call one person who will have something good to say when they pick up on the other end. Avoid the friends who will have a laundry list of complaints.
Bonus points if you get up from your desk and take a walk or at least pace while you talk.
I’ve recently started using Headspace to meditate, and it is the best. I spent $20 on a six month subscription during a promo and I am so glad! (If this is still a thing for everyone, JUMP ON IT! it’s a little pricey otherwise.
This hits pause on the constant cycle of “I am overwhelmed, I am overwhelmed, I am overwhelmed” replaying in your head and gets you focusing on your breathing and your inner self.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?