can’t do, can do
Right, back to the topic of overwhelm and what you can do to manage it.(Coping with Overwhelm-Controlling the Uncontrollable)
How can you care about the world around you, be involved and productive and make a difference, yet still live and function? How do you cope with dealing with the paradox of it all? Of being happy in a world where bad things happen? Of keeping moving when it all seems too much? Of feeling that what you do or say doesn’t really make a difference in the bigger scheme of things?
Well, I have a few strategies that work well for me. Hopefully there might be something here are you too…
Tips For Avoiding Overwhelm
1. Turn off the TV/Phone/Laptop
We live in a world of information-too much (negatively-biased) information. We are bombarded by it all day long. No wonder we get stressed and overloaded. Of course, when it comes to the media there is no drama in providing good news, so most of the news we see is bad. That contributes to a feeling of hopelessness. We become overloaded with bad stuff.
So, turn off the TV or, at least, turn off the news. Skip reading the papers- buy a personal interest magazine instead. Read a good book or listen to music. It’s amazing the difference it makes. Try it for a week and you’ll see what I mean…
2. Take your “Important List” and make it as tangible as possible.
E.g. it is not physically possible for me to be saving the rainforest in Borneo (after all, someone has to stay home and feed the dog!) but I can plant trees for my local Bush Care group and I can pick up rubbish off the beach each week or volunteer at the Animal Rescue Centre.
Then choose a couple of bigger picture “causes” that you feel passionate about (e.g. Save the Whales or Cancer Research-something that has meaning for you ) and support those with donations/ e-mail campaigns etc., knowing that there are other people as dedicated and passionate as you out there supporting the other things you care about. Trust that they have it covered…
3. Break it down into baby steps.
Overwhelm makes us powerless to act and keeps us stuck in our thinking. Sometimes the issue seems so big that we don’t know where to start. That’s when we need to bring our attention right in and focus on one specific thing. “My life is a mess!” So, decide to start by sweeping the kitchen floor… then do the dishes…Or write one letter, or pay one bill or clean one cupboard…Focus on the things you can do rather than on what you can’t.
Just make it one simple thing at a time, which leads us to…
4. Take Action, Keep Moving, Start!
Override your head (which is busy telling you all the reasons why it can’t happen/ won’t happen/ won’t matter if you do/ is not worth the effort) and simply stand up and do one thing! Quite often this unblocks the flow. One of the biggest problems we have is our inability to get off our bum and actually start to do something. (Knowing vs. Doing)
5. Yes or No?
Sometimes it’s the little things that tip us over the edge and into overwhelm. Say no to anything that depletes you, overloads you (or makes you silently groan inside!)
On the other hand, say yes to anything that lightens you, empowers you or allows you to grow.
6. Be realistic, gentle and focus on the good things.
Care for others starts with you. Nurture yourself and be realistic in your own expectations of yourself. It’s not your job or my job to save the world but, if we all focus on our little bit, it’s a job we can do together. Imagine what we could accomplish if each of us was willing to just do a tiny part…
Search out the good news stories of others who make a difference. There are plenty of websites/blogs/forums/facebook sites dedicated to those who make a difference, each in their own way. Join them and fill your mind with good news. It starts to change how you see the world. Read inspirational biographies or watch “feel-good” movies.
Remember to take good care of yourself- (We need people like you!) Good self-care has a huge impact on our ability to cope and to thrive.
Hope these are helpful for you and love to hear some ways that you deal with overwhelm!