5 Tips To Deal With Overwhelm
By Hallie Bulkin
Ever have that feeling that there is just SO much on your “To-Do” list that you just feel frozen? Paralyzed with overwhelm? For most people when there is just too MUCH to do, they become paralyzed in their actions. It’s interesting because I am actually quite the opposite. The more I have to do, the more I get done. I thought this was normal, until I realized that what I was doing was implementing a strategy (or two) to get it all done.
There are many reasons why you or your child may feel overwhelmed. But today this article is for YOU, the parent! I want you to know that this feeling is something that many people feel. If you are feeling overwhelm in your life, especially during the holidays, you are not alone. It can come from having too much on your plate in one area of life or many areas combined. Upon meeting many of my clients parents they particularly struggle with overwhelm in caring for a special needs child and with dealing with everything that comes along with tasks of every day life.
I am going to share with you some strategies as to how you can effectively deal with overwhelm in your life. These strategies have worked with friends, parents and clients, putting them in a forward moving motion instead of keeping them in a state of inactivity. So whatever it is that you are trying to get done, give these strategies a try to help you move past that feeling of overwhelm:
- Create a “To Do” List. I know some of you may HATE lists (I personally LOVE them) and it REALLY helps me to write my tasks down for the day. I do it the night before or first thing in the AM. After I make my list, I ask, “What are the top 2 items that will make me MOST successful?” and then I do those first. If you are familiar with Brian Tracey’s book, “Eat that Frog” then you know that these are your largest frogs that you have to eat first! You can then number the other items according to priority. This will give you your starting point and each next step, too. Remember, just focus on ONE thing at a time and you will move forward.
- Create a “To-DONE” list. If you are like me then you LOVE crossing things off a list. If you’re not, that is okay! What I found was that when I crossed things off on my daily calendar (yes, I use a paper and pen system) I was able to see what I got done at the end of each day. Being able to reflect on what I DID do was motivation to keep moving forward the next day. (Hint: If you use a dry erase board or another non-permanent system to make a list, sit down at the end of the day and physically write out what you got done that day). Reflecting brings a huge sense of accomplishment.
- Journal. Buy an empty journal and start writing down your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes having a safe place to put your thoughts and feelings is enough for you to pick up and move past the feeling you are experiencing (in this case, overwhelm).
- Join a Community. You need a community in which you feel a sense of belonging. You will be at your best when you feel that you are a part of a system or group that “gets” you. You can do this in person or online. It’s easier than ever to go online (e.g., Facebook) and find a group to join these days. These groups can be groups of moms or dads with children with special needs, or some other group that would help you feel a sense of belonging. The place that your sense of overwhelm is coming from should help give you insight into the focus of the community you should join.
- Find a personal outlet. Finding a personal outlet will allow you time to decompress. You need to build this into your schedule. This could be anything from taking a bath and reading a book to going to the spa for a treatment or taking a walk around your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be extreme, but it should be implemented weekly.
Give these tips a try and let me know if you have any suggestions of additional tips that you personally use or recommend for others to work through their overwhelm.
Hallie Bulkin, MA CCC-SLP