How to Beat Overwhelm

Do you have a pit in your stomach every time you think about your to do list? Is your mind constantly jumping from what you’re doing to all the things you haven’t done? Does it leave you exhausted, overwhelmed, and paralyzed?

We all have things is our lives that stress us out, thats the nature of growing up. Mom and dad stop paying for things and you are left to fend for yourself. Chances are you ignore the less desirable duties and push them to the back of your mind. What starts off as ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’, turns into ‘how did I let it get this bad’ and thats when overwhelm takes hold. Want to know how to beat it?

You live in society that promises all of your problems can be solved over night. Any kind of burden you’re facing will disappear using a magic pill, exercise routine, or online program, all for the low cost of $48.95.

This isn’t true… At all.

The thing is marketing firms are paid a crap ton of money to convince people that their problems will all go away with whatever product they’re being paid to promote. Some do a really good job, so it’s important to pay attention and really ask yourself “will this product benefit me in the long run?”

Lets take this fake marketing campaign as an example:

Is frizzy hair making you feel awkward and uncomfortable at all times of the day? Do you constantly put on cowboy hats, or duck behind office plants to avoid eye contact with people? Do you ever consider shaving your head and tell people you’re going through chemo treatments, just so they wont stare at your hair? Well with our unique, patented, and extremely overpriced Frizz Fucker, you can fuck that frizzy hair. You’ll banish those feelings of inadequacy and dominate every social setting. **Enter model, flash smile, and laugh at inaudible conversation with fake coworkers.**

This is an exaggeration, but not by much. If you really pay attention to advertisements the subtext is that their product or service will drastically improve your entire life. And hey, if frizzy hair is all you have to worry about, then buy up and be happy.

But for everyone else, it’s not just one thing that is making them feel stressed, overwhelmed, or awkward. It’s a culmination of many different factors. They are stressed over bills, plus dealing with a health scare, paired with working under an overbearing manger, and to top if all off they have frizzy hair.

Things add up in the mind quickly, and when there is too much for it to process every problem becomes insurmountable. When this happens, you’re in a mental downward spiral and even small things become intensely vexing.

So what can you do about it?

Get present. In this moment, what is happening right now. Get out of your head and focus on what is in front of you, literally.

Take 3 deep breaths and follow these steps. Do each one for around a minute, it doesn’t need to be exact, just long enough to really draw your attention back to now.

1.   Look at what is in your space with intention and purpose. Find a color, it could be of a wall, a book, your bed sheets, etc. Find a color and really see it.

2.   Touch something that is close by. Pick it up (if possible) and pay attention to its texture and shape. How does it feel in your hands? What is it’s weight?

3.   Take a deep breath in through your nose and see if you can smell anything. Is the aroma of food wafting? Do you have on cologne? Can you smell the chill of air conditioning?

4.   Listen. Don’t put on music (unless it is already playing), pay attention to what sounds are being made organically. Focus in on it, intently. If you’re at a coffee shop can you listen to what someone is ordering?

5.   Now, pick one thing that is causing you to feel overwhelmed. When you have it ask yourself “What action can I do right now to help me solve this problem?” Do whatever is the first, realistic step that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter how small it is, just do it. When you decide on a step and take action to solve it you will automatically feel a sense of relief and empowerment.

If at any point you get side tracked, it’s okay. Just draw yourself back in and start again from wherever you got off.

By following this exercise you are training yourself to stop the avalanche of negativity that you’re typically swept up by. It will be challenging at first, and you probably wont get the full benefit the first couple of times you try it. The important thing is not that you do it perfectly, the important thing is that you do it.

Write down the spark note version of the technique and use it when anxiety or overwhelm is getting to you. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to use in the crunch times.

Remember that everyone from bums to billionaires experiences anxiety and overwhelm. What separates those who buckle and those who overcome is the ability to self monitor and change direction.

Use todays technique to catch yourself in the downward decent, and stop it in its tracks. Remember you have all of the power to change your life. Rediscover your inner badass and let them take the drivers seat. When they’re the one calling the shots instead of fear you will see amazing changes in your life.