I openly admit to feeling overwhelmed from time to time. Sometimes it’s short-lived and other times it hangs around, as I write this it’s hanging around. I wanted to share the top 10 easiest things I do to stop feeling overwhelmed.
It might sound silly but a few good, deep breaths can work wonders. In fact, a recent chat with my psychologist had her reminding me that I had forgotten how to breathe.
Too often we take quick and/or shallow breaths. This can add pressure to our heart and reduces the available oxygen to our body and importantly our brain.
Taking slow, deep breaths helps us to feel calm – an important factor to help us stop feeling overwhelmed.
2. Change the scenery
A change of scenery does wonders for our health. It can disrupt our thoughts long enough for us to forget what was concerning us. Being outside with a cuppa, going barefoot in the grass for 5-10 minutes, or even taking a 30-minute walk can all act as circuit-breakers for mood and thought patterns.
The benefit is that exercise and being outside are shown to increase the happy endorphin hormones which can help stop you feeling overwhelmed.
The other way you can change the scenery is by changing room, task, or getting up and taking a dance break in your office. All are great ways to break out of the pattern you find yourself in and can be the circuit-breaker you need to get back on track.
Are you saying ‘yes’ to things when you should be saying ‘no’? Are you up late (or early) answering emails or doing work because it’s what you believe is expected?
Boundaries help you to keep the time you have available in check and not overscheduled. Boundaries teach people how to treat us. Boundaries aren’t mean, they’re self-care.
(Did you know that I don’t have work email on my phone, that’s a boundary I’ve had for many years)
4. Reconsider expectations
We are our own worst enemy. We put the highest expectations on ourselves. So, it’s no wonder that we become overwhelmed when we put this pressure on ourselves.
As business owners, we often feel like we need to do “all the things” but do we? Would we expect a friend, loved one, or staff member to do all we do?
I know that too often I expect too much of myself, more than others do. It’s a key to Imposter Syndrome and reducing my expectations of myself has helped me to stop feeling so overwhelmed.
The other side to this is ensuring that the expectations others have on you and what you do are fair and reasonable. You have the right and should set clear expectations with your clients. Not managing expectations can lead to resentment as well as overwhelm.
Proper time management, including boundaries around procrastination and distraction, was key to me no longer doing things at the last minute or feeling under the pump.
Another thing that has helped me is using a bullet journal and scheduling work for particular days. Rather than one long to-do list, I assign tasks to particular days. This means I can work better with deadlines and it also gives me flexibility. It’s much nicer to see two things scheduled for one day than 10 things for one week.
6. Schedule time for things you enjoy
Honestly, I’m pretty bad at this when I’m feeling fine, it’s when I’m feeling overwhelmed that I tend to step it up. While it’s not exactly too late then, it would be better if I was consistent. Pre-covid I used to take 3 trips, either interstate or overseas, per year for business; I love to travel and it gave me something to look forward to. Now I’m scheduling time to catch up with friends, time to go to the theatre, time to take myself out for a meal (I highly recommend taking yourself on a date), and I’ve even got a business trip booked in.
Regardless of what you enjoy, book it in! Book that time for you. You need that space where the life pressures are different or minimal and you can just be.
7. Ask for help
Yeah, I used to be bad at this one too. I always thought that I was better off doing things myself and that the money was better spent elsewhere. Wrong! There really are people out there who love doing the boring jobs you hate and that will do it faster than you would because of it. I also discovered that most of the time, it’s a better use of my money because it frees that time up for me to do more productive tasks that I enjoy.
The other part of this is asking for emotional and psychological help. I’ve done this a lot lately and it has helped me stop feeling overwhelmed personally and consequently in my business. This doesn’t have to mean booking in for counselling, though it can, it can mean reaching out in your community for help. There’s a good chance that someone can help you.
8. Next best step
I learnt about this two years ago. I was so caught up with planning, strategizing and doing ‘all the things’ that I was often overwhelmed by the enormity of what lay before me. What I didn’t realise is that all I was required to do was to take my next best step. The beauty of this is that when you take that step, the next will appear before you and then you take that one. It’s also how you eat an elephant.
9. Reduce comparison
In the early days of my business, I used to watch and learn. The problem with that was that I would compare. I would look at where these other business coaches were at and I would not only feel inadequate but totally overwhelmed with what I believed I should be doing and how to get there.
It eventually got to the stage where I had to stop watching. When I stopped watching, I had nothing to compare to and so I eventually stopped feeling overwhelmed about where I wasn’t at in my business compared to others.
10. Talk to someone
You’re not alone. Running a business can be a lonely business, especially when you’re the only one in your friendship group and/or family (me) who runs a business. They just don’t understand and honestly, why would they. But you’re actually not alone. The best thing I did was to join two communities of business owners, one local and one global, where we lend an ear and guidance to our fellow business owners.
Talk to a professional. Too often I see posts in groups looking for free advice. Did you know that most professional services, designers, web developers, accountants, lawyers, bookkeepers, and coaches, will offer a free initial consult? Ask them!
Talk to a professional. When you can’t stop feeling overwhelmed, please seek professional help from your medical practitioner, mental health professional, or mental health helpline. You don’t have to keep feeling this way.