First of all let me say that overwhelm is not real! I know, I know it feels very real when we are experiencing it, but it really is all in our heads. You feeling that way does not take you any closer to your goals or the life you desire to live. It is a very negative emotion and can only bring more negativity to you. It paralyses you and so instead of powering through your list of things to be done you are like a rabbit caught in the headlights as a moving truck speeds towards you.
So how can you stop the feeling of overwhelm. Easy, feel good instead!
Does that sound too simple?
When we are thinking happy thoughts our brains can work at a much faster pace, and be more creative. Allowing ourselves time to focus on a happy thought acts like a reboot to our mind, taking ourselves out of the negative feelings of overwhelm and into a place where we are ready to get some stuff done.
So, next time you feel you are in a state of overwhelm, panicked about your next move and not achieving anything, I want you to try this:
Think of one of the happiest moments of your life. It might be your graduation, wedding, a lovely moment with your kids or spouse. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you find it to be a memory that fills you with joy. Don’t worry about your choice, any one will do for now, it doesn’t have to be your absolute most favorite moment ever.
My favorite changes from time to time. Right now it is when we visited Disney when my kids were little and my daughter was pulled into the parade dancing with Cinderella and Prince Charming. I can’t think about it without smiling and if I let myself dwell on it I get a bit choked up.
Now that you have picked your moment I want you to savor it. Remember the sights, sounds and smells of the moment. What happened right before and afterwards. Draw it out.
The goal is to think about it for 15 seconds of continual thought. It seems trivial but you might not be able to do it for a full 15 seconds at first, particularly if you are feeling overwhelmed. Practice until you can. Start when you are feeling calm and keep practicing until you can call it up even when you are agitated.
You will find that your mood changes instantly. Negative thoughts disappear. Your brain literally reboots like a computer.
Practice often over the next week. Anytime you are waiting in line, sitting in traffic or have a quiet moment at home.
Once you can call up your joy on demand you have a weapon against overwhelm…
Reboot and your way forward will become much clearer and you can approach it with calm certainty.