How would it be if you could spend a few moments reading this short blog post, and by the end have the one question that I and other use to help you move beyond overwhelm?
Overwhelm, is very common – you’re not on your own. Overwhelm is where someone becomes swapped – maybe they say ‘everything is going badly’ or they place a ton of expectations on themselves – the feeling of not knowing where to start (for some people feeling overwhelmed can be a real challenge and bring out feelings or symptoms of anxiety). Overwhelm can be quite paralysing and can make people feel like they are really really stuck – “I just don’t know where to start – I’ve got sooooooo much to do!” Well the good news, it that by following a few simple steps you can reduce or eliminate this feeling …
One of the best tried and tested tips include taking a short break from the situation – sometimes it’s useful to go and make a cuppa! Not only do us Brits love a brew, but it takes you away momentarily from the situation, it changes your focus and allows your brain the chance to relax a little so that it can find the solution (it is after all like a muscle – over worked and under pressure many of our little brains just need a break). Some people may say this is procrastination (putting off what you need to do) but I think we should listen to our bodies. If the feelings of overwhelm come into your awareness, that’s a sign to me that I need to do something differently – like the start of the little noise my Gran’s pressure cookers used to make when it was starting to reach high pressure.
I’m no scientist (although I’ve picked up a few things here and there along the way) but when your body is suffering from a stress reaction the messages from the brain to the rest of your body change as does the make up of chemicals in your system (e.g. the stress hormone Cortisol increases in the blood – which can have adverse effects on the body – in essence you don’t want to be relying on this basic human reaction to stress for too long – check out psychology today for more on this).
I always find that getting up and going for a short walk can also help – the challenge for us is that if our stress levels start to rise – some of us think the solution is to force ourselves to have an even more intense focus – whilst the effect of this intensity may be an increase in adrenaline in our system (which increases the heart rate, elevates blood pressure and boosts energy) my experience is that this is often not overly helpful longer term (and being an adrenaline junkie is really quite exhausting – it’s almost like you get an adrenaline hangover afterwards as your body tries to rebalance itself!). The great thing about going for a walk is that it helps with both the physical and mental overwhelm. By moving the body we are increasing the supply of oxygen in our blood, which goes to the brain (which helps it function), we start to move our muscles (e.g. swinging your arms as you walk can help loosen up the muscles around the shoulders – where many of us carry stress), and you take in lots of new information – you see things, you feel things, you hear things and you smell things with each step that you take.
So what’s the question to ask yourself when in overwhelm …
Last night I had the pleasure of talking to a great group of Business Women at the Gwent Business Women’s Network (GBWN) – a wonderful group of welsh women in South Wales with ambition to grow and succeed (if you live in South Wales you should check the group out). At the session I talked about a ton of stuff, but we also briefly covered the NLP Hierarchy of Idea – which is a model that allows us to logically move up or down through the levels in which we communication (and think) between abstraction (big picture) and detail. The concept has a ton of uses in business and life more generally (which we teach on our NLP Practitioner course) and when it comes to overwhelm how is it relevant? Overwhelm is when you are focusing on everything (almost like being up in the helicopter scaring yourself as you peer down below and see everything you believe you have to do right now). What we need to do when we’re in a moment of overwhelm in to ‘chunk down’ our thinking – so we’re not focusing on everything – we’re getting into the detail so that we can take take action. The question I always ask myself (which is pretty basic, but powerful none the less) is …
What is the very first thing I need to do?
It allows you to chunk down into the detail and get to the first step – and then you can take action.
I hope this helps today – let me know how you get on.
Laura is passionate about helping people realise their potential, and achieve the results they deserve. If you’d like to find out more about Unleash Your Potential, you can check out our NLP courses, coaching options, and link up with us via our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or link up with Laura via LinkedIn. You can of course also email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org