Do Away With Overwhelm

Oct 13, 2015 | Simplicity

Perhaps, for generations, it has always been the norm to feel busy. Yet, it feels like these days busy-ness has become a new way of living, a new habit, or even a new expectation or trend (aka. “the glorification of busy”). And like a drug or alcohol addiction, we’re secretly keeping our increasing overwhelm hidden behind closed doors, for fear of judgement, ridicule, or just that heavy sense of failure being exposed. At the root of it all is the underlying sense of not being (good) enough. On the surface it seems like we don’t have enough (money, friends, success), so we keep pushing and striving in the hope to get somewhere which we believe promises us a sense of freedom, value, and significance.

Don’t get me wrong, without a doubt it is important to have a vision, to have dreams, and some clarity around where you’re headed in life. But in my own personal experience, and through interactions with others, it seems there is no stop to the dreaming, hoping, and planning; and therefore no real presence on-going. It’s tiring. It’s tedious. No?

We all wish to do something of great value in our lifetime – of service to others, as well as ourselves. The lines often get blurred when we’re going a million miles per hour. If we take a moment (or few) to stop, to take a step back, it feels like we will fall behind, and then it will be more challenging to pick up the pieces once again.

I’ve just returned from a truly magical adventure in India, hosting a yoga retreat. I gave myself a day (stop over) in Hong Kong (my old stomping grounds) on the way home. To do this it required 2 red-eye flights, which completed shattered me when I returned back to Australia from my rather rejuvenating and heartfelt Indian retreat experience. As usual, I dove straight back into teaching, emails, plans for the next retreat, plans for our next family holiday, private clients, and the like. A day or so after landing (at least physically) I recall feeling like I’d been drugged.

I’ve only just come up gasping for air a few days ago.

It felt like I was drowning.

…Can you relate?

There seems to be this ridiculous pre-determined concept that as a Yogi I (we?) must be able to keep it all together. Always maintaining composure, tranquility, and a sense of ease and self-care is a given. Right? We must always be able to tap into our yoga, implementing the principles we have come to know and experience directly, such as breath, concentration, equanimity, and a state of calm. Ah, no.

This building, and building, of layers of pressure that I’d placed on myself created a state of obvious internal tension. No major meltdown was had. No tears. No arguments. Just an immense heaviness of heart, and an intelligent familiarity; like an I’ve-been-here-before-and-I-need-to-get-out-now kind of knowing. I started to witness myself – whilst handling things with a-ton-better-than-I-would-have-ten-years-ago type behaviour. And this enabled me to get clear of the knowledge pool I’ve accumulated to support me in getting out of an overwhelm rut. Clarity is seriously the way to lighten the load! And, I wanted to share my simple and straight-forward insights with you.

Make a Public declaration.

Don’t just dump on the person or people who might be adding to your stress. Tell everyone – your friends, family, colleagues, your entire social media account. And then see the flooding of love and support that comes through. Phew. All of a sudden you realise others are in complete empathy, and are grateful for your humility. Immediate relief. You no longer have to appear like you’ve got it all together.

Write a(nother) list.

Have a complete brainstorming session on a piece of paper (get away from technological distractions). Write out everything that needs to get done – email replies, work, appointments, phone calls, household chores, tidying up, anything and EVERYTHING. Purge.

Now, go over that list and look at what is most urgent and what is most important. Write out two lists: Urgent and Important. Keep them aside for reference.

The Top 3

This is a lifesaver. Everyday, go over your urgent and important lists (which you’re no doubt adding to). Pick the TOP 3 things that need to be done. Write a separate list with those 3 things. Keep them in front of you (on your screen, counter top, fridge), wherever you’re going to see them most. Do not add to the list. Stick to 3.

Now, you have only 3 things to get done. Go do them.

Auto… pilot

Inbox overwhelm? Set up your personalised email Auto-Responder. Doesn’t matter if you’re not in business yourself. Even if it’s for friends and family. Set up a cheery auto-response, stating that you’re only checking your emails on specific days, and even specific times (or twice per day). Whatever is realistic, and honest. Tell them when they can expect a reply e.g. in 48 hours.

And, turn off all email notifications on your devices.

(Social) Media

Turn off all notifications on all your apps.

Switch your phone onto aeroplane mode most of the time (and if you have an iPhone you can set up access for your ‘favourite’ contacts to get through in case of emergency).

Do your yoga

Because when you don’t have time for it, is when you need it the most.

But you’ve heard that already right? Lets rephrase:

When you don’t have time for it, is when you will benefit the most. More clarity. More calm. More progress. Hello health and happiness.

Anything else I should add to this list? What are your go-to techniques to help you combat the powerful force of overwhelm? I’d love you to share in the comments below – someone else might benefit from your insight.

Nothing like an ‘a-ha’ moment.

With thanks and love,

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