Feeling Overwhelmed: Tools To Help Reduce Stress

So feeling overwhelmed is something that a lot of people feel, especially lately with people being worried about losing their jobs. Let’s face it: with more things to do and the same amount of time (or less) to do them in, life can get a little ridiculous at times. There are times, when yes, even I,  get overwhelmed. Wanna know what it looks like when I feel this way? You’ve probably seen it before:

Yep, that’s right. In case you weren’t sick of my Matrix analogies, I’ll make one more. Nothing says overwhelmed like the Burly Brawl in The Matrix Reloaded. Even the music is intense and emits a feeling of overwhelming odds. 

I use this analogy because I think it best describes how I feel when I’m faced with a demanding amount of tasks that just won’t go away without a substantial amount of speed or time. Just as one thing gets dealt with, another one comes up, and another, and before you know it, you’re at the bottom of a pile of problems, just like Neo in that scene.

We know what happens next, right? He just uses his muscles…or something, and plows out of the pile. He recognized he was overwhelmed, and that he couldn’t win, so he left. But our problems don’t go away like that do they? So what can we do to deal with these feelings? Here’s what I do:

1. Do what you can today. You only have one today. Tomorrow is tomorrow, not today. Focus on what you can accomplish today and get that done. Don’t waste your time beating yourself up about what you didn’t do yesterday, or what you want to do tomorrow (for the Christian readers, this is actually scriptural – Matt. 6:34). Set your priorities for the day and get them done.

2. Recognize what’s NOT in your control. Neo could not control the number of Smiths coming at him. For the most part, he could only handle one at a time and sometimes more than one. But soon the number increased, and he couldn’t change that, no matter how hard he tried. By recognizing what’s not in your control, and letting those things play out, you allow yourself to be free to manage what is within your control (see “What is the WATER Method?” for what is in your control).  What you can’t control will occur with or without your consent, desire or happiness in mind. Letting those things go is key to not feeling overwhelmed.

3. Set boundaries. Gotta tell ya, this is a big one. People bite off more than they can chew, so they end up getting overwhelmed. Set boundaries with your work, home, extended family (if you can), leisure time, etc. Everything has a time and a season to it (Ecclesiastes, anyone?) but you have to set some of those times and seasons so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Anywho, this is what I do so I don’t get lost in the insanity of life. I run a business, counsel about 30 clients per week, blog, twitter, facebook, write a book, walk my dog, and water my garden. I am cook, laundry man, occasional maid, and have a fulfilling relationship. All of those things have a time and place in order for my life to have balance. So I challenge you to consider what you can do so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. What does feeling overwhelmed look like to you? Does it help you change your way of thinking about your problems? Comments Welcome!