OVERWHELMED BY LIFE: 11 TIPS TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR WAY
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, it’s difficult to know how to make changes and what changes to make. In this article I’m sharing some little tips to help you find your way if you’re feeling overwhelmed by life and need to reset.
DO YOU FEEL OVERWHELMED BY LIFE?
How are you? Busy? Busy seems to be a default response for many of us when asked how we’re feeling.
Maybe you answered that question differently. Perhaps you said ‘frustrated’, ‘unsettled’, ‘bored’, or conversely ‘happy’, ‘excited’, ‘fulfilled’, ‘grateful’.
I think for most of us we hope to feel fulfilled in life and content but we acknowledge that life is a mix of ups and downs.
For a few, you might have answered ‘overwhelmed.’
Overwhelm can be caused when the balance in our lives shifts too much in any negative direction. We all have stresses and strains, commitments and responsibilities but when they’re not balanced out by some good things, that’s when the balance is skewed and overwhelm sinks in.
Further reading: Why we need balance in life
“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”Paulo Coelho
FEELING OVERWHELMED BY LIFE? TIPS TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR WAY
People feel overwhelmed by life for different reasons but there are some common causes which affect many of us. I’m sharing these here along with some tips to overcome them if you’re currently feeling overwhelmed and want to find a way out.
I’ve also given you a clear action point to help you to the next stage. I know that sometimes, when it’s all too much, we need a little guidance to help us take clear, strategic action!
1. You are too busy
Maybe you have too much to do and too little time to do it in. If your days are busy then it leaves little wiggle room and freedom to do what we WANT to do and WHEN we want to do it. Day after day of being too busy is bad for our brains and bodies.
Action point: See if you recognise these signs of being too busy and what to do about it.
2. Your priorities are blurred
If everything is important then nothing is. The word ‘priority’ is singular but we’re so accustomed to making it plural – priorities. When you’re not totally sure what’s a priority and what’s not, then we confuse those priorities and make everything important.
Define your priorities so you can give your time, energy, focus and attention to what matters most. The rest may be important but it’s often not all a priority, particularly not all at the same time.
Action point: Read this post on how to define your priorities and get your own copy of my Define Your Priorities worksheet to help you.
3. You don’t have boundaries in place
Boundaries are your invisible forcefield through life. Having clear guidelines about what you will and won’t accept in your life, relationships, time etc mean that you don’t have to make millions of tiny decisions every day. Make some over-arching decisions to protect yourself from the pushes and pulls of the modern world and feel less overwhelmed by the detail of daily life.
Action point: Read my post on why boundaries are important to explore what boundaries would work in your own life.
4. You’re not self-aware
I’m a great believer in gut instinct but, in the past, I’ve also been very good at ignoring it to my detriment. Your body and brain can often give you clues about whether you’re in sync with your life or whether you’re headed for burnout and overwhelm.
Trust your inner voice, heed the signals your body gives out when it needs rest and commit to a regular journal practice to reconnect with yourself.
Action point: Try these journal prompts for self-discovery and self-reflection.
5. You have too much clutter
Too much stuff in your home can make your home feel cluttered and uninviting. More than that, your home needs to be a place where you can relax and recharge, not spend your time cleaning and tidying up.
Instead of focusing on looking after the stuff in your home, concentrate on looking after yourself and your loved ones at home. Laugh, play, talk, have fun together.
Action point: Read this article on reasons to own less stuff, this article on how to create a calm family home or this article on how to declutter if you feel overwhelmed.
6. You’re disorganised
Declutter first but then organise. Organisation and planning are the key to running your home and life on auto-pilot. Organisation comes in many forms but you could consider meal-planning, following this monthly checklist or getting ahead for the week with these things to do on Sunday for a productive week ahead.
Action point: Try these 25 ways to be more organised as a good starting point.
7. You have too much mental clutter
Clutter isn’t just the visible stuff that takes up space in your home. Clutter can take up space in your mind too. When we have too much mental clutter, we can’t focus or think clearly. Let alone make rational, well thought-out decisions. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, this is precisely when you need clarity of thought to help you create an action plan!
Clearing mental clutter is about working out what makes you feel sad, frustrated, anxious, stressed out and overwhelmed and take steps to overcome this.
Action point: Try this exercise on brain-dumping.
8. You don’t have healthy habits in place
We all fall into bad habits, sometimes for a short time, sometimes for a long time. However, having some healthy and positive habits in your life can really help you keep on top of things and feel less overwhelmed, particularly when life gets a bit sticky and challenging.
Action point: Check out these ideas for life-changing habits for your daily routine to see if they’d work for you in keeping things ticking along.
9. You don’t make time for self-care
If you feel overwhelmed by life, I suspect that you might not be taking great care of yourself. Perhaps you think you don’t have time, or lack energy or motivation, or feel guilty and selfish for putting yourself first. If you take a moment for you, are you worried those plates you’re spinning will drop?
When we feel overwhelmed is when we need to look after ourselves the most, but prioritise time for us the least. If you need permission to give yourself some TLC, try this article on how to slow down.
Action point: Try this gentle, free Self-Care Challenge for daily emails over the next 5 days to encourage you to slow down and look after yourself.
10. You don’t face up to problems
Whether it’s financial, health, relationship worries or something else, small problems are easier to tackle than bigger problems. If you leave a problem to fester, it might sort itself out, but often it just gets bigger.
Stop putting your head in the sand, face up to your problem head on and create an action plan to deal with it. Stop making excuses, hiding, procrastinating or blaming others. Don’t be afraid to seek support from others if you feel you can’t deal with your problems alone.
11. Unrealistic expectations and self-acceptance
This is something I’ve experienced personally! I’m a perfectionist and I strive for 100% in everything I do. Although this means I have a great work ethic and am very motivated, perfectionism regularly trips me up. More than that, in the past it’s made me undervalue myself and my life and compare myself unfavourably to others and the version of myself that I think I should be.
Unrealistic expectations, whether they stem from perfectionism or something else, are overwhelming. The constant chasing, comparing, measuring and forcing mean that we don’t appreciate all that we have (and are) right here and now.
Action point: Read more about the struggles of perfectionism and how you can develop a daily gratitude practice to refocus on what you have, not what you wish you had instead!
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN LIFE FEELS OVERWHELMING
Lastly, I wanted to share a few reminders when life feels overwhelming. They certainly helped me keep things in perspective when I was dealing with burnout and needed to simplify my own life. Maybe they might help you too?
1. Things change
What feels overwhelming right now probably won’t feel overwhelming forever. Life changes, we change, our pressure points and responsibilities change. With the passing of time and the changing seasons you might feel that what overwhelms you now, won’t overwhelm you next month or next year.
2. Our thoughts are not our life
When you’re overwhelmed by life remember that it’s possibly your mind (and body) that feels like that. It’s not necessarily that your life is all going wrong but rather your reaction to that life. You can change your reaction to life by saying no, setting boundaries, prioritising the things that matter, taking care of yourself and clearing clutter from your home, schedule, heart and mind.
3. Seek support
Don’t be afraid to seek support. It’s not a sign of weakness. Chat with trusted family or friends or explore professional guidance and services if needed.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
I’d love to know what you do to combat feelings of overwhelm, stress and tiredness. Do you prioritise self-care when you need it most? Or, do you go into overdrive and then wonder why you feel burnt out and worn out? What overwhelms you the most? Leave a comment below!