I’ve been there, wondering how to get my life together. There is no denying how overwhelmed we all are amidst global pandemics, natural disasters, political challenges, economic downturns, family drama, and work deadlines. It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands, jump in bed, and pull the covers over their head until 2030. Yet, every storm has an end, and you are strong enough to weather it.
When you are overwhelmed, you feel like things are too much to deal with. Put simply, there is an all-consuming sentiment that emotions are just too strong. Overwhelm can be situational or general.
Situational overwhelm is linked to a particular set of circumstances, like when there is a big project due at work, but you are not sure if it will go well and your promotion is hanging in the balance. General overwhelm is linked to the everyday pressures of showing up for yourself and others. Regardless of which type of overwhelm you encounter, it can be a truly challenging ordeal.
Everyone gets overwhelmed from time to time, but overwhelm doesn’t have to upend your progress or thrust you into a downward spiral. In order to help you navigate these treacherous waters, here are some tips to help you get your life back together when you feel totally overwhelmed.
1. Slow It Down
The first thing you need to do when you feel flooded or overwhelmed is to slow everything down. The sensation you are feeling is like an alarm. Your body and spirit are trying to bring your awareness to something important, and now they have your attention. In order to process the data you are being given and assess what is happening, you have to slow everything down.
The breath is your best tool for slowing it down. The power of your breath is incredible. Since the respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems are connected, any intentional manipulation of the breath is going to directly effect your blood pressure and emotional state.
Doing something as simple as taking a moment to take three slow deep breaths when you are in the throws of overwhelm can start to slow everything down. You can check out some other simple stress-relieving techniques in the video below:
When you give yourself permission to slow down your thinking, it is as if you have put the brakes on. You are forcing yourself to be present for what you are feeling and thinking in the moment.
The experience of overwhelm can feel very chaotic and out of control, but when you slow it down, you are reclaiming control over the experience. Lean on the people in your life who care about you, and talk through your problems. This will help you step back and slow down.
2. Step Back, Reflect, and Reframe
If you’re wondering how to get your life together, it’s time to step back and reflect on what led up to the overwhelm. Some good questions to ask yourself are:
- Did I put too much on my plate? If so, who can help me? What can I set aside for now?
- Am I prepared enough? If not, what else can I do to prepare? Is there anything getting in the way of my preparation?
- Were there signs I ignored that would have kept me from getting to this point?
- Is there any self-sabotage at play?
- What is the single most important thing I can do right now that will move me towards my long-term goal and personal development?
Reflecting is great because it helps you to sort through the data you received from being overwhelmed. Taking the time to decipher this data will also help you to better understand what your body is trying to tell you in the future if you experience these sensations again.
Reflective journaling is especially helpful. It involves thinking of an experience, interpreting what happened, and analyzing lessons learned from it.
Having a frame of reference for overwhelm ahead of time is invaluable. Instead of it feeling like a chaotic incoming tornado siren, it will feel more like a monotone, preventative, early warning system.
Reframing happens when you have collected, processed, and reflected on the data and can now place the experience in a new perspective.
For example, when I failed the bar, I thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I was overwhelmed by the thought that I had wasted $140,000 in loans and would not be able to pay my bills, get a job, or create the life I always wanted. My body felt sick, weak, and tired, and my mind was heavy with all manner of negative thought patterns. I didn’t know what I needed to do to get my life together.
Yet, when I gave myself permission to slow it down, step back, and reflect, I realized that I would have hated being a lawyer. It took a while, but I was able to reframe that experience as a blessing that allowed me to identify my true calling – helping others achieve the success they truly desire.
If you’ve experienced a negative set of events recently, focus on your short-term goals and the small steps you can take to put your life back together. Over time, living your life will get easier through personal growth and improved physical and mental health.
3. Release, Regroup, and Redirect
It’s easier said than done, but when it comes to overwhelm the best thing you can do is let it go. Your effort to slow down, step back, reflect, and reframe have made it a lot easier for you to release the cause of your overwhelm.
Once I gave myself permission to reframe failing the bar, I was able to release it without any regrets. The release of the source of overwhelm is critical to the “getting my life back together” component of this process.
In order to truly get your life back together, you have to regroup and redirect. The overwhelm put a chink in your chain, which halted your progress. Now that the chink has been worked out, you can place your chain back on the cogs and get back to work.
Regrouping is important because it allows you to close the feedback loop on all the slowing down, stepping back, reflecting, reframing, and releasing. It is like a metaphorical period on the sentence of the lived experience. It allows you to hit the reset button, and with all you know now, you can move forward in an informed, prepared, and empowered manner.
The last act is to redirect. Thankfully, all the work you have done leading up to this moment will make it much easier for you to identify your new trajectory. Remember that redirecting doesn’t mean you must move in a radically new direction; even if your trajectory only slightly altered its course, that’s ok!
What is most important is that you have processed, integrated, and learned from your overwhelm so that you are both better prepared for future overwhelm and more equipped to avoid it all together.
We have all been overwhelmed and wondering how to get our lives together. However, your progress doesn’t need to be completely compromised because life throws you problematic situations or toxic people. You are strong enough to overcome it and get your life back on track.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to slow it down by using your breath. Give yourself permission to step back and reflect on what led up to the feeling of overwhelm because there is valuable data there. Reclaim your power by reframing the experience and releasing the source of overwhelm.
More Tips on Getting Your Life Together
- Three Steps to Overcoming Overwhelm
- How to Be Stress Free at Work and End Overwhelm
- 8 Important Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Featured photo credit: Francisco Moreno via unsplash.com
|||^||Harvard Business Review: How to Deal with Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed|
|||^||NPR: Just Breathe: Body Has A Built-In Stress Reliever|
|||^||PsychCentral: Overwhelmed? These 6 Strategies May Help|
|||^||Journey Cloud: How to Write a Reflective Journal with Tips and Examples|