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System Overload: How to Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed

System Overload: How to Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed

We live in a world riddled by choice — the first world, that is. There is so much opportunity at our fingertips, it makes decisions sometimes seem impossible. The more uncertain we are about our choices, the more our system becomes overloaded and overwhelmed.

Too many choices lead to overwhelm and indecision, which leads to self-doubt. We feel out of control, stressed, anxious, useless or worse — depressed. Most of the problems we create are out of sheer boredom. Our lives are too easy and too convenient that we end up catastrophising the smallest things, creating big, scary monsters that make us feel out of control.

How do I know if I’m making the right choice? What if I miss out on something? What if I make this decision, and it blows up in my face? We can drown ourselves in questions, but until we actually take the plunge, we will never know what’s on the other side.

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Building self-awareness allows us to make hard choices and stick to them. There are no bad decisions, there are the ones we believe in and the ones we don’t — in the end, it’s all a learning experience.

Here are a few tricks to protect yourself from total system combustion:

1. Box breathe.

It seems simple, but we often forget, especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Long, slow deep breaths. It grounds us in times of uncertainty. The breath is our anchor to presence. In through your nose for 1, 2, 3, 4. Holding for 1, 2, 3, 4 and exhaling through nose for 1,2,3,4 and holding for 1,2,3,4. It’s called box breathing and it has been used by all walks of life from yogis to firefighters to soldiers. Leave a post-it note somewhere you can see it to remind yourself to just breathe.

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2. Write your thoughts down when feeling overwhelmed.

Your writing doesn’t have to be the next New York Times bestseller. It doesn’t really need to make sense. When we’re overwhelmed, we don’t think clearly and our emotions can often become erratic and all over the place. When we take those erratic emotions and throw them onto a page, we can then look at them as an outsider looking in — from a different perspective.

Thoughts take us down darker and darker rabbit holes when we keep them locked inside. In Brene Brown’s new book Rising Strong she calls this exercise an SFD — Shitty First Draft. Write down the emotions you’re feeling, how they’re manifesting in your body and what you’re thinking about. Write for about 15-20 minutes. Once you’ve cooled off, take time to reflect on what you wrote and what you can do differently next time.

3. Prioritize.

Make a list of what matters most when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Simple, yes. Effective, yes. You just have to actually do it. This can also be part of your writing therapy. It will help you decide what really needs to happen now and what can wait. We can’t do everything at once. We think that we’re really good at multitasking, when we’re just giving ourselves the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time. Read the book The One Thing by Gary Keller and you’ll understand what I mean.

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4. Trust yourself.

It’s important to work on building enough courage to pick yourself up after you’ve fallen down. You’re overwhelmed because you can’t make a decision. Just make one and go with it! The circumstances don’t change, we either believe in the choices we make or we don’t. Watch this TED on How to Make Hard Choices.

5. Replace FOMO with JOMO.

Our fear of missing out has us saying YES when we should be saying NO in order to fulfil expectations we put on ourselves or the fear built around letting someone else down. This can cause you to feel overwhelmed. It’s important to be authentic and self-aware when identifying the right times to buy in or bow down.

Brene Brown said it best, “Every time we say yes because we’re afraid of missing out, we say NO to something. That something may be a big dream or a short nap. We need both.”

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Replace FOMO with JOMO — The Joy of Missing Out.

6. Break your state.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re just thinking about me, me, me, me. We need to get out of our heads and over ourselves. The best way to do that is to break your state. Make a fart noise with your mouth or bark like a dog. Just do something ridiculous to get yourself out of your head.

And remember when you’re feeling overwhelmed, choice is a blessing, not a curse.

Featured photo credit: 184; Stress level: Midnight/Sara V. via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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