This morning while preparing a workbook for a client, I came across an old worksheet that I’d created for another client. I was feeling messy, disorganised and overwhelmed and the questions on the worksheet hit me square in the face. A little voice said ‘This is what you need – right now!‘ So I delayed work and took ten minutes to do the worksheet. Here are my answers.
Q1: Describe in one sentence what is making you feel overwhelmed.
I feel overwhelmed because I feel I have so much stuff to do but am not organised so don’t know what to do.
Q2: When you are feeling overwhelmed what thoughts keep running through your mind? Identify words, phrases, ‘shoulds’ & ‘whys’ that you keep repeating to yourself. What do you keep saying over and over to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? Write these down.
It’s all such a mess.
I’m so disorganised.
I’m wasting time and time is so precious.
What can I do?
What should I do?
I can’t cope with all the clutter.
I’m so useless.
Here I am again!
I’ll never have a successful business if I don’t sort this out.
I’ll never sort this out!
Q3: Take each one of these thoughts and rephrase it in a more positive, accepting, compassionate way. This will be difficult, and you will probably not want to do this. Step over this resistance, and force yourself to do it. Tell your gremlins, or your inner critic to back off. If you are still fighting it, just do one. But make sure it is your most dominant thought in times of overwhelm. [I just did two combined into one]
Overwhelmed thought: ‘It’s all such a mess, I’m so disorganised.’
Rephrased thought: ‘ I’m feeling disorganised and overwhelmed with the mess around me and my To Do list – and that’s OK. It’s only natural to have times every now and then when things get chaotic. Instead of running around like a crazy thing in a panic, I can remember to breathe. I can notice the spring flowers and the blue sky, the bright sunlight streaming through my office window and the hum of a distant lawnmower. I can let peace and gratitude into my heart in this moment. I can nourish my soul and use my intuition to take a first small step . Compassion and action will help me. When I feel stronger I can work out how to be and feel more organised and gain more daily clarity. For the moment I am feeling calmer and happier – and that’s OK too.
Q4: Finally, look at your rephrased, kind and positive thoughts and try and pull them together into one general statement that you can use in times of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. You can still use all the rephrased thoughts aswell but it is useful to have one ‘motto’ which you find easy to remember when you need it most. Below are a couple of examples:
I don’t want to be perfect. I am doing a good job, keep going.
Take your time and prioritise. Take a deep breathe and be kind to yourself.
My motto for today: Take a deep breath, notice the moment, and the world around you and be kind to yourself. You don’t always need to be in control….let it go….
Strangely this worked wonders. It took the pressure off and I started thinking and feeling ‘Oh, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. That’s alright then. Maybe I can just start with making some notes on a new blog post.’
When we do feel low, anxious, stressed or overwhelmed we often get stuck in our negative thoughts which makes the situation worse. Accepting the situation for what it is – not what it could lead to and what it means about us – and distancing ourselves from it allows the judgements and the pressure to dissolve. Not completely perhaps, but reducing it enough for us to take care of ourselves and get back on track.