Overwhelm (verb): Bury or drown beneath a huge mass; give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.
Raise your hand if you’re overwhelmed? If the common refrains — I’m so busy, I don’t have time, I’m overwhelmed — have taken the place of, “Hi. How are you today?” then you might need to do some serious re-evaluation.
The truth is, we live in an overwhelming time where information, news and the blistering pace forces us to move faster, produce faster and live faster. There’s often little time to process, balance or enjoy the fruits of our very active labors.
Being overwhelmed is an easy place to drop into. It’s comfortable to become victims to our busy schedules, to realize that you haven’t taken a single day or moment for yourself in…oh, I don’t know, maybe ever?
This overwhelm is the new normal and has infiltrated itself into our careers, our health and even our personal lives. We are in a constant state of hustle, even when we’re grateful, even when we’ve gotten everything we ever wanted and are so happy to be where we are.
Case in point:
Last week, I came home from a really long day (15 hours, to be exact) that was a great, successful workday. Life being what it is, I hadn’t had time to process any of it. When I came home, I went straight to my office, shut the door, turned the lights off, played some soothing music and started sobbing in total gratitude.
I was overwhelmed by gratitude. But I was also overwhelmed by life.
I’ve come to realize that being overwhelmed means multiple things. While we usually think of overwhelm as a negative state, when you embrace what is truly happening and what it is you’re manifesting, it’s often hard to carry it all in your heart, mind, body or soul.
There’s simply no time to process because it’s just so damn much.
But if there’s time for effort and striving and stressing, then there’s also time for being. There’s time to manifest the emotions you want to feel in daily life, in business, in your relationships, in your dreams, before you actually get what you want. Getting into alignment can look like a lot of things for different people. Whether it’s drinking a green juice, sleeping in, laughing or hanging out with your dog, if you’re an observer to yourself, if you do things that feel good to you, if you detach from the granular tasks of daily life, you can stop to feel the way you want to feel.
You just have to act the way you want to feel before you feel it. And realize that when one area of your life is amazing, other areas are going to slip.
Imagine this: Your life is spread into glasses of water.
There’s a family glass, a health glass, a job glass, a friend glass, a relationship glass. No one’s glasses are 100 percent full 100 percent of the time. If you’re crushing it in your job, chances are your relationship is going to take a hit. If your relationship is on point, your friendships might suffer. The glasses go up and down, and that’s okay, because this is a long game.
It’s a long game in a short-term world, where we think about today and tomorrow, but not what’s necessarily going to matter to you years from now.
If you want to build a life by design, you have to commit to staying true to that design. While I quit my big corporate job so I could design my own schedule, to stop to smell the roses, to take a yoga class or an entire day off, I find myself often saying, “I have no time.”
Why? Because I have to get shit done. But I also have to conquer the feelings of overwhelm and gratitude and stress and joy because there will always be highs and lows. There’s no singular state.
This is a long game after all.
How to Conquer Overwhelm in Five Easy Steps:
1. Put your phone on airplane mode before you go to bed. If you’re someone who wakes up and reaches for your phone first thing, this tip is for you. When you wake up to a clear phone with no immediate notifications (AKA: other people’s agendas), you can actually take a few minutes to think about how you want to feel instead of what you have to do.
2. Let yourself feel it. We so often say what we feel — I’m stressed, I’m tired, I’m exhausted, I’m sad — but we don’t often make the space to feel it. So, have a breakdown, cry, scream, break shit. Feel everything. Suppressing your feelings and running on empty is going to break you eventually, so just let them out.
3. Schedule time for yourself. No, really. If your calendar is packed to the brim, schedule in real time for yourself, whether it’s taking yourself to a movie, getting a massage, going home and taking a nap… Do not waver, even if something else comes up. Do this every single week, and watch how the overwhelm slips away.
4. Find your happy place. What makes you happy? Whether it’s working out, cooking, reading a good book, jumping out of planes — learn to have more fun in micro ways. My happy place? I put this song on blast and dance around my office like a maniac. #Truth.
5. Don’t engage with toxic people. We all know the people who suck your energy and make you feel heavy, not light. But what if those people are family members or work colleagues? When they get negative, simply don’t engage. Don’t comment on what they’re saying. Don’t let their energy affect your energy. And most importantly? Don’t take it personally, even if it feels personal. By leaning into the emotion you want to feel — happy, inspired, light, excited — acting as if you do, even before you are feeling that way, shifts the energy around you.