“I feel overwhelmed”, is a phrase we are hearing more and more in the therapy room. The state we call “Overwhelm” is not the anxiety and impatience that is experienced when our list of “To Do’s” is too long, but a very uncomfortable emotional state when there is a sense of being stuck; a lack of motivation to do anything; an inability to decide what’s important and what can be left, and a tendency to ignore what has to be done. Those who experience “Overwhelm” are likely to be short-tempered and confused, feel bodily tension and have a general fear of impending catastrophe.
“Overwhelm” doesn’t happen overnight. It is a state that is reached gradually and we need to recognise when we are feeling overloaded by the demands upon us and take action before we reach a tipping point.
There are certain thought patterns and behaviours that increase the likelihood of reaching this uncomfortable state. Those who try to please everyone by always saying “Yes” thus taking on more than they can handle is common. Perfectionist thinking when individuals have high and often unrealistic expectations of themselves and others can lead to feelings of incompetence and being out of control. Those who demand a lot of control and feel highly responsible can also fall victim to “Overwhelm”.
If any of this applies to you, it is necessary to acknowledge your feelings and become aware of self-defeating thoughts and behaviours so that action can be taken to avoid “Overwhelm” or resolve it as soon as possible.
Learning to find comfortable ways to say “No” and accepting that you can’t do it all, nobody can, is an important step.
It is helpful to spend ten minutes every day visualising how you would like things to be and how you would like to feel. See yourself achieving your goals easily with time to spare and enjoying your activities. Imagine feeling motivated, in control and easy about everything you do.
And if you do have a “To Do” list that is bothering you, try Franklin Covey’s method of prioritising. It works for us!
Go through your list labelling each item with one of following letters:
A = urgent and important
B = important not urgent
C = urgent not important
D = not urgent or important.
If you only achieve the As in your allotted time, you can be confident that you have completed all that is essential.
Phrases for the Tappers (reminder phrases are underlined)
Even though I feel overwhelmed, I accept myself and all my feelings
Even though things are out of control, I accept myself and how I feel.
Even though I can’t decide what is important, I choose to relax, breathe and take it slowly.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed