3 tactics to support you to avoid overwhelm

At one point or another, all of us will have experienced overwhelm. We will all experience overwhelm in different ways. For some, it will be a sense of panic, for others, it might be a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, or walking around feeling like there is a cloud hanging over you. How does overwhelm feel for you?

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People will also feel overwhelmed by different things and scenarios, we all manage and react to life’s stressors in our own unique ways. Overwhelm happens when the amount of stress we are facing is more than our capacity to handle it. If you’d like to know more about this – the idea of the 'stress bucket' is a good one to explore.

Regardless of how overwhelm manifests for you, the impact it will have on your behaviour and capacities can have a really detrimental impact on your sense of well-being. If you feel overwhelmed for a longer period, this can lead to exhaustion and eventual burnout.

When you feel overwhelmed, you may find:

  • You have less compassion for yourself and end up giving yourself a harder time than usual.
  • You find yourself being snappier with those around you, having less patience and being irritated by things that usually wouldn’t annoy you.
  • You are less able to think clearly; your mind is busier than usual and you cannot seem to get hold of any of the thoughts or noise seemingly swimming around in your head.
  • Your choices may start to feel limited and instead of feeling able to overcome, or work around barriers, you feel stumped, blocked and trapped by them.
  • You spend less time doing things that you know are good for you and support you to feel well.
  • You may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach issues or feeling short of breath if you reach a state of panic.

A few tips for handling overwhelm can be found here.

How can you avoid overwhelm in the first place?

1. A simple self-care routine

Simple being the operative word. What is one thing that is absolutely non-negotiable for you to do for yourself each day? For me, it's a morning walk. It might be writing in a journal, a yoga practice, or a quiet cup of tea… choose one non-negotiable.

When we start to feel overwhelmed, our self-care can be the first thing to slip and that can only ever have a negative impact.

So many times, I have spoken to clients who are feeling overwhelmed and, by the end of their first session, they reach the conclusion that self-care is the first thing to put back in their routine before they can begin to work through the other issues.

2. Recognise when you need help and act on it

As soon as you recognise that things are slipping, even if just the smallest of things, ask for help. Talk to a friend, a colleague, or a professional. See if they can support you to find a solution before it builds up and overwhelms you.

3. Are you procrastinating? 

Oftentimes, overwhelm can go hand in hand with procrastination. If we procrastinate, tasks can get bigger, they can feel more difficult and overwhelming. This only really supports us to procrastinate on our goals further because we don’t know where to start with them – a double-edged sword.

How can coaching help?

Putting time aside to plan ahead with your goals can be like magic, and working with a coach will support you to do this if you’re not sure where to begin. Ensuring your goals are the right size for you to manage – not too big, not too small. Ensuring that your goals are realistic and attached to your own motivations and values is essential. Without our goals thought through and planned, it can be easy to become overwhelmed as we are constantly working towards a moving or non-existent target.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Peterborough, Cambs, PE6
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Written by Emma Humphrey, Coaching (Dip. Personal Performance Coaching)
Peterborough, Cambs, PE6

Emma holds a distinction level diploma in personal performance coaching (via the Coaching Academy). Her mission is to support people through coaching to be well, feel well and live well through making changes in life, career, mind, and body.

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