How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
When we have fallen behind on our list of things to do, we often feel like there is more to do than humanly possible. We feel as if our building is on fire and there is no way to escape. When in reality, you are in a safe environment with several accessible exit doors. Here are some steps to keep calm and stay motivated:
- Be realistic. Make sure each task is manageable. Set approximate time frames to each task. If it’s not adding up to a typical 40 hour work week– delegate tasks, ask for help, request extensions, let it go or simply say “I’m not able to do this.”
- Remove unnecessary distractions. Physical clutter can cause us to feel distracted. Start by keeping desk clear. Put projects in piles or use a file system. Keep your cell phone in drawer, turn off Instant Messaging systems and email notifications.
- Remove mental clutter. Focus on what you are currently doing, while you are doing it. It is literally the only thing you can do right now. Writing a budget proposal while thinking about staff evaluations is a waste of your precious time.
- Re-evaluate. Do you really need to do all of this by today? Sometimes we put harsh deadlines on ourselves to stay a busy bee. What would happen if this didn’t get done today? Sometimes the answer will be “I absolutely need to reply to our top client by 5pm.” And other times things can wait. Is it worth your well-being to complete this? Is it worth skipping lunch, losing sleep, and missing exercise class to complete this task?
- Increase motivation. Noticing all of the things you accomplished each day is fantastic for your mental health. Stop only noticing the things that didn’t get done. This causes you to beat yourself up and have thoughts such as “I’m not good enough.” With negative thoughts come self-destructive habits such as skipping workouts, eating junk food and drinking alcohol. Make a written list of all the things you did accomplish at the end of each day. This will help reduce your anxiety and increase your motivation to tackle the days ahead.
- Take a break. Studies have shown taking 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes increases productivity and creativity. If possible, stand up and stretch. Take a walk, make a cup of tea, eat a few almonds or chat with someone. Then, jump back into what you were working on—feeling less overwhelmed.