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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 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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