Managing Overwhelm

by @natalieferrigno

April is #StressAwarenessMonth and a time to recognise what triggers we might face which cause us stress, and how to deal with them. Feeling that you have too much to do is a really common problem and can cause anxiety if it’s left to fester. Many of us lead such busy lives with our career, social and family commitments leaving us feeling constantly switched on.  The constant ping of our phones with messages, e mails and notifications means we are often left feeling that everyone wants a piece of us and we don’t know where to direct our energy to first.  The pandemic offered some relief from that but as life starts to open up and we adjust to a faster pace of living what if that adds to the overwhelm? Some people may not feel ready to embrace social events or use public transport. There’s a feeling we’ve adopted Stockholm syndrome, a psychological response to a situation where we’ve become so accustomed to being indoors it’s become our normality and a fear has developed of reverting back to the social side of pre pandemic life.

As we adjust to this changing environment or if you generally feel you always have too many plates to spin here’s some tips to take on board.

Go at your own pace. It may feel like everyone is suddenly out all the time and you feel like there’s pressure to keep up. Firstly the likelihood is it’s probably not as much as it seems and social media in particular can make us feel that compared to everyone else we aren’t doing enough. Remember it’s only a highlighted reel of other people’s best bits most of the time. And if they are going out more?  So what?  Do things when you are ready - you do you!

Break the day up into manageable chunks. Recognise where and when you work most effectively and in what areas. You may find your ability to concentrate is better in the morning so may choose to allocate 9-11am as solid head down at the computer and that you work more creatively in the afternoon.

Remember self care.  I’m a great believer you can’t pour from an empty cup so make time for something that makes you feel good every day even if it’s just 10 minutes.  That may be exercising, reading or arranging a coffee with a friend .

Ask for help if you need it. This is a tough one for lots of us. We are often reluctant to ask for help as we don’t want to bother people. But if you’re really struggling you’ll be surprised at how willing your family and friends will help out – they don’t want you to suffer alone. It may be someone looking after your children for a few hours, doing a load of laundry for you or that you just need to delegate more. Women especially tend to do more for their partners and children when we could stop feeling guilty, outsource the help and free up some precious time.

Don’t be a slave to tech. Let’s face it most of us of have our phones with us all the time. They are brilliant at keeping us connected but the flipside is the feeling that we are always available to everyone all of the time. Nir Eyal author of ‘Indistractable’ advises hack back tips to limit your phone usage such as switching on do not disturb whilst enjoying family time, in meetings and giving your eyes and mind headspace before bed. Uninstall apps that you don’t regularly use and turnoff social media notifications as they tend to break your concentration. You can allocate a separate time each day to look freely and that can reduce the incessant urge to act on notifications allowing you to be more productive with your time.

Lastly be kind to yourself.  Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Imagine what you would say to a friend if they came to you feeling like this. We all have the same 24 hours in one day you can only do what you can do and remember whatever you achieve,  you are always most cetrainly enough.