It happens to all of us. No matter how skilled, or strong, or capable, we all eventually hit that moment. We’ll be going along, doing our thing, when suddenly we realize it’s just all too much… We become overwhelmed. Some call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, or maybe the age old “when it rains, it pours,” but it will happen.
And honestly, it sucks.
But guess what! It’s at least a little bit preventable. I mean, it’s part of life, but you can definitely decrease the likelihood of your day going under. Much like taking your car in for an oil change can reduce problems later, taking the right steps now can prevent overwhelm. So, how do we do it? Let me share some of my favorite ways!
How to prevent overwhelm
So, before I get too far, I want to say that none of this is a guarantee. By taking action now, it’s possible to reduce the risk of that extensive stress, but it’s still likely to happen at some point in life.
Another important point is that a lot of this advice may actually seem really common sense. If you’ve been in therapy or surrounded by a loving support network, chance are you’ve heard a lot of this. That’s fine! And that’s good! For those of you in those situations, this post is more a quick reference/reminder for those times you need a little kick in the pants.
So, without further ado… Let’s look at how to prevent massive overwhelm!
Allow myself to have downtime
I’m starting with the biggest one. The next ones are very important, too, but this is the trick that gives me the most immediate relief. I know a lot of times this is much easier said than done, but it’s worth it to try to carve out a little time. Whether it’s reading your phone in the bathroom, or putting the kids in front of the TV while you check your messages, it’s worth the effort.
Downtime is a big deal when you’re suffering from a chronic condition, physical or mental. If you ask your doctor they’ll say the same thing. Honestly, even if you’re just sitting for a couple minutes, or putting your favorite song on, you’re doing good things to help your heart and brain recover. So! Don’t neglect it!
Share the load
This is what support networks are for. You should always have a few people in your corner that you can ask for help when things get messy and difficult. But more than that, you should have people that can assist you even before you fall apart.
Remember earlier when I was talking about downtime? A solid support network can provide the assistance you need to get that time! Have someone else watch the kids so you can grab yourself some coffee (yes, even that 5 minute trip can be valuable downtime). Your kids old enough for sleepovers? Send them away to stay at Grandma’s or even a friend.
Moral of the story – Don’t wait until you’re falling apart to ask for help… if you know you need it, better to just ask for it.
Pace yourself (Use a calendar)
Okay, so this one is a bit more personalized to me, but it’s crazy handy. Use a calendar!
I know, you’re probably thinking “Hows that supposed to make a difference? Then I’d just be stuck looking at all the stuff I have to do!” In some ways it definitely seems even more panic inducing than helpful, but stay with me here.
Yes, you’ll be able to see all the things you have to do all at once. Yes, it may look overwhelming, too. But, well, that’s kinda the point. By putting everything all out in black and white, you really are forced to look at everything going on in your life. In our modern world, it’s easy to overload your schedule, especially if you’ve got kids. I can count the number of times I said “sure!” to something, only to realize a week later that I already had two major things going on that day.
So, you write it out, take a hard look and decide what you absolutely need to do that day and what you can shift off or completely skip. If you absolutely can get out of multiple draining tasks, then plan some cushion for yourself so you can relax and recoup before barreling on to the next thing.
Here’s the nice thing… your calendar can be pretty much anything you’d like. The goal is just to have everything in one place. Go grab a fancy planner or a plain legal pad. Hell, staple together a bunch of scrap paper, just do what works!
Note: Personally, I’m a bullet journal fan (which I wrote about here) but you can really use anything you’d like!
Take care of yourself!
Last, but not least, take care of yourself. It’s so easy to put our kids, family, and work first, but that’s not a sustainable life. Sometimes, you have to put yourself in the lead. What does that mean?
Well, a really simple example would be to look at my last three tips, and then actually do them! Easier said than done, which is why this is something that needs to actually be said. All the time, we hear about self care and why it’s important, but they neglect a key note which is that you actually have to do the things they talk about!
So! Get your butt out there and start making it a priority!
Remember: Only you can prevent overwhelm (spoken in the voice of Smokey the Bear).
Wait…do people even remember Smokey the Bear?