We all get overwhelmed from time to time. In our fast-paced society, this feeling is becoming more and more common. I am not immune. As a creative entrepreneur and self-employed woman, I have many occasions and opportunities to succumb to this particular condition. To combat the paralyzing effects, I’ve developed a method for overcoming overwhelm. When I start feeling like I’m in over my head, I P.R.E.P.A.R.E.
P = Pray
I am firm believer that prayer changes things. When overwhelm sweeps over you like a tidal wave, step one is to go to the Father and seek His peace in the midst of the storm. You might be overwhelmed, but God isn’t. He sees what’s happening, and He understands. He can guide you through the difficulties and help you learn and grow as you walk through the situation with Him.
R = Release
Make a concerted effort to let go of the anxiety, stress, and fear that accompanies overwhelm. Step back from the situation and relax. Allow yourself some time to refresh and regain your footing. You will have a better perspective to deal with the problem if you give yourself some time and space to recover your calm.
E = Evaluate
Do you know what’s causing your overwhelm? Identifying the source is essential to correcting the underlying problem and getting back on track. Is the overwhelm emotional or physical or both? Are you trying to cram too much in your calendar? Are you struggling with a big life change? Do you need the help of a mentor or educator to teach you what you need to take the next step? Once you identify the issue, you can make some adjustments to alleviate the pressure.
P = Prioritize
Make note of what’s on your to do list and determine which activities will have the greatest impact on your well-being or quality of life. What’s most important to you? We live in a busy world with activities and obligations everywhere we turn. If you’re anything like me, you can fill your schedule from dawn to dusk with stuff—work, committees to serve on, volunteer activities, housekeeping, kids’ sporting events, hours on Facebook, etc. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything you could do. Defeat overwhelm by being intentional about how to spend your time and energy. Don’t let life run you. You run your life! Let go of responsibilities and possessions that are weighing you down. Simplify whenever possible and free yourself to focus on what’s important.
A = Ask
Ask for help. We all need love, help, and support. That’s part of being human. When you come to a difficult place in your journey, reach out to a friend, family member, or mentor and tell them about your struggle. Ask for their support. Let people love you and help you through your difficulties.
If your feelings of overwhelm stem from a lack of knowledge, seek out the help and answers you need. I see people encounter this form of overwhelm often. They reach an unfamiliar place in the road, a problem they’ve never encountered. They don’t know what to do next, and the fear of not knowing overwhelms them. They shut down and all progress ceases. When you come to an obstacle that overwhelms you, remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Ask for help. Someone has been where you are. They have faced this same difficulty and found a way around it. They can help you find the answers and solutions you need to get moving down the road again. So ask!
R = Reduce
When we try to do or process more than we can handle at one time, overwhelm can result. I experience this dilemma every time I start a new novel. My novels are 300 – 400 pages typed and double-spaced. That’s a LOT of information to keep straight. It’s a lot of words to get down on paper. For the first 100 pages I usually feel lost and in over my head. I conquer this feeling by reducing my novel to manageable pieces, breaking the plot down into chapters and scenes, then thinking only about one piece at a time. With a little work and perseverance, it all comes together.
You can only do so much at any given time, so you have to work within your limits. Looking at the big picture can be intimidating, so don’t look. Reduce a task or situation down into manageable steps. You can’t pay your mortgage off today, but can you put $100 extra toward the balance? Break it down until you are facing one step in the process, then put the bigger picture out of your mind. Learn to narrow your focus to just one thing at a time and tune out all the other noise.
E = Enjoy
Do you enjoy your life? Sometimes overwhelm is a mindset. When we learn to live from an attitude of gratitude, to appreciate what we have, to find things to be thankful for, suddenly the problems don’t seem so big. So now that you’ve dealt with your overwhelm, take some steps to head it off at the pass before it can creep in and take hold of you again. Embrace the good in your life. Make time for things that edify you. Express yourself creatively through a hobby or art. Explore new horizons and avenues every day. Life is a gift, one meant to be enjoyed to the full, so don’t waste another minute!
So when you start to feel overwhelmed, P.R.E.P.A.R.E.!
And you will overcome your overwhelm!