More On Being Overwhelmed


How do you feel when your to-do list keeps growing and growing, your e-mail messages keep piling up, you are having to work after hours to catch up, something is taking longer than expected, etc. This can be overwhelming.

Some ways to respond constructively include

i) breathing (take long slow breaths rather than deep breathing

"...slow breathing helps you stop panicking and take a more long-term focus as it activates the brain's prepare-and-plan mindset. If you focus on breathing out like you're blowing up a balloon slowly, your breath in will naturally regulate itself..."
Alice Boyes, 2018

ii) healthy self-talk

"...The best self-talk helps you feel calmer and in control. It combines self-compassion and appropriate responsibility-taking (not too much, not too little). Feeling excessively responsible is associated with a vulnerability to worry..."
Alice Boyes, 2018

iii) focus on one thing at a time (this include prioritising, ie focus on what is urgent and important first)

iv) focus on 'shoulds' rather than 'prefer' or 'could' (this will reduce anxiety and increase feelings of empowerment)

v) focus on and prioritise what is the best action to do right now (this will reduce ruminating and/or procrastinating about the past and/or worrying about the future)

vi) accept that you will feel overwhelmed sometimes (make adjustments as needed)

vii) record your time spent on different activities (most people exaggerate the hours they work as the brain jumps to conclusions based on your emotions, eg

"...when you feel anxious about work, your brain will overestimate how much you're working, which in turn makes you feel more anxious and sets up a self-perpetuating cycle..."
Alice Boyes, 2018

You can feel hopeless, depressed, anxious, etc and become avoidant.

Limit brief work-related activities in non-working time like my checking your phone voicemail, e-mail, etc. However

"...small bursts of meaningful non-work activities can help your life feel more balanced..."
Alice Boyes, 2018

This can include playing with your children, partner/wife, hobbies, etc

viii) check your assumptions about other people's expectations

"...We often self-generate rules we expect others to follow..."
Alice Boyes, 2018

An example is expecting immediate responses to e-mail, text messages, etc. An alternative approaches include

- only respond during office hours

- seek clarification about other's expectations, ie when do you need a reply or action by

 - advise others when you will get back to them

ix) examine your assumptions about what success requires (this involves understanding self-generating ,incorrect thoughts (or unconscious bias) about what it takes to be successful. For example, perfectionism will result in you trying to work harder than anybody else which can become a problem, especially if you are in a group of other over-achievers. Be careful of assumptions that cause unnecessary stress as displayed by procrastination, paralysis, etc.

It is a good idea to write down your problem assumptions alongside realistic alternatives.

x) start taking time out now instead of waiting for the right moment (become less anxious and more relaxed about your workload.

"...A classic Catch-22 in psychology is that people wait for their emotions to change before changing their behaviour. However, changing your behaviour is probably the best and fastest way to change your emotions (and thoughts)..."
Alice Boyes, 2018


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