Perhaps you find yourself getting upset, angry or despondent at times, feeling as though life is spiraling out of your control. It’s not a good state to be in – and you know that. But breaking away from those panicked feelings can be tough.
Here’s a few simple steps that can help you get back on top of things.
#1: Take a Quick Time-Out
It’s important to take a few minutes to breathe and focus. If you’re in the middle of a stressful situation – perhaps the house is a complete mess, or work is a huge, chaotic rush – then it’s hard to get any perspective.
Go for a quick walk, grab a shower, or just sit still with your eyes closed for a few minutes. Give yourself a chance to calm down, before you start trying to plan.
#2: Make a List
Once you’re feeling calmer, grab a piece of paper, or open up a document on your computer, and make a list of everything that you think you need to get done. If something’s on your mind, put it down – however big or small.
Your list may well have some urgent items (“clean kitchen before mother-in-law visits tomorrow”) and some which are more long-term, but important (“lose 50lbs and get fitter”).
Once you’ve got everything out of your head and onto paper, you’ll feel a lot better. Hopefully, you’ll already be able to see some items that can wait a while and others that can be checked off quickly. You might even want to start sorting or prioritizing your list, to make the next couple of steps easier.
#3: Start With Small Wins
Obviously, making a list isn’t going to get you far. (As a kid, did you ever make an elaborate, color-coded study plan for your exams? Did you actually stick to it?)
You need to start taking action – and a great place to begin is by tackling any “small wins” – simple, quick tasks that you can do straight away. They might not be especially important, but by doing them, you’ll start to build up a sense of momentum.
Small wins are especially powerful when they relate to tasks that you’ve been putting off – a phone call, perhaps, or sending off a letter.
#4: Ditch, Delegate, Delay
If your list still looks overwhelming, then it’s time to get rid of some tasks.
Can you ditch anything? Perhaps you don’t really need fresh-baked cookies for when your parents visit – you could just buy a packet from the store.
Can you delegate anything? If you’re overloaded at work, can you get a colleague to take over a few tasks? If you’re the one who does all the housework at home, how about assigning specific chores to your partner or kids?
Can you delay anything? If you’re rushing to get everything done before you head off on vacation, can you put off some things until you get back?
#5: Take Care of Your Health
Finally, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, it’s especially important to take care of your health. You know all the basics:
• Eat sensibly – don’t skip meals because you’re “too busy”, or grab junk food.
• Exercise regularly – even a 20-minute brisk walk every day can make a huge difference.
• Get enough sleep – cutting back won’t make you more productive, as you’ll end up slowing down during the day
If you get sick, you’re going to find it even harder to get things done – so make sure that your health is a priority.
What tips do you have for dealing with overwhelm? How do you get back on top of things when life is hectic?