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How to conquer Overwhelm


The feeling of overwhelm can hit any of us at any time. When you feel you cannot cope any more with too much to do and too little time, when the pressure gets too heavy or when the task seems insurmountable, that’s when many of us see no way out. In that state the brain only sees the problems and no solutions. Once you have reached overwhelm it can be difficult to get out from under it.

Signs of approaching overwhelm

Don’t let it get that far. The important thing is to see the warning signs before overwhelm hits. These can be:

  • Always rushing
  • Regular procrastination
  • Constant indecision
  • Dread of what the next day may bring
  • Regular headaches or upset stomach

We all have some of these symptoms sometimes, that doesn’t mean you’re close to overwhelm. But if several of these symptoms are part of your daily life, you might want to take a step back and re-evaluate your current situation.

When you reach overwhelm, you cannot be productive as your mind does not work properly in this state. It is therefore important that you calm your mind back down. You can do this by breathing deeply for a few minutes, just concentrate on your breath or you may want to meditate. Or go for a short walk, dance to your favourite song, do something you enjoy. You are not accomplishing much else, so don’t worry about a few minutes lost; it’ll benefit you in the long run.

Once your mind is in a calmer state, you can look objectively at your situation and create a plan. Here are some ideas that might help.

One huge overwhelming task?

If you have one overwhelming task, break it down into manageable chunks. Make these chunks as small as possible. What one small thing can you do now that will move your big task forward? It’s just like the Chinese proverb “Even the longest journey begins with one step.”

A tangle of spaghetti in your brain?

Is your issue that you have too many things to do and you can’t concentrate on any of them? Then pen and paper are a good solution. Simply write down all the things you need to do. Whether you use a long list or a mind map, that’s up to you, but write everything down.

Next group the things logically. This could be by context (put all the phone calls you need to make together, all the errands in another group, etc.). Then you can tackle one group at a time. This is the “Getting Things Done” technique by David Allen.

Another grouping could be by projects; put everything that belongs to the same project together. Decide which project is the most important right now, then do the task that needs doing first for that project.

Different approaches work for different people.

What you need to avoid is the temptation to multitask. Back in the 1990s multitasking was THE in-thing. But we have come to realise that multitasking is one the biggest obstacles to productivity there is. The brain can’t actually multitask. Our brain functions best when it concentrates on one thing at a time; that’s when we get the most done. During multitasking the brain constantly has to switch between different tasks, so nothing gets done well.

How hypnotherapy can help

If you cannot find your own way out of overwhelm, a hypnotherapy session can help to get you back on track. I can teach you relaxation techniques to help you reach a calmer state of mind, so you can get back on track and use any of the above techniques.

You could start by requesting my complimentary 3 minute breathing space recording; please email me at sam@livewellpractice.co.uk.

My name is Samantha Culshaw-Robinson and I am a clinical hypnotherapist. For more information and for a complimentary introductory session, please get in touch either via email sam@livewellpractice.co.uk or by phone 075 222 777 22.

If you would like to book in for a session, please fill in your contact details on my consultation page.

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