When You Feel Overwhelmed, Go Back to The Basics

There may come a particular time of the day, year, or month where you start to feel overwhelmed. Whether it be trying to hit your monthly budget, starting a new job, or dealing with what life throws your way, we all have experienced a time where we use up all of our mental and physical energy. As we get older, our lives become increasingly demanding. We learn to ‘adult’ by dealing with new and complex challenges that are thrown our way. Add in personal or family issues, and it’s easy to feel stress.

Our typical response and the natural tendency is to do everything at the same time. We want to save money, get fit and learn how to become productive simultaneously. Because we’re trying to reach success in every area, the amount of energy we exert doesn’t allow us to achieve it all. To recalibrate and manage our performance, we can go back to basics and implement strategies from the ground up, so we don’t have to spend each day of our work and personal lives fighting stress.

You will find that the strategies imposed will work with each other. When you implement Strategy#1, it becomes much easier to achieve Strategy#2 and so forth.  


feel overwhelmed blake de vos


Basic Strategy#1: Find Out Why You Feel Overwhelmed


Quite often, without thinking, we attempt to accept feeling overwhelmed without understanding the reason behind it. It leads to expensive and irrational decisions where emotions and exhaustion builds and builds until one day, the bubble bursts. If you feel the onset of stress, there are a couple of ways to address the root of the problem. 


Accept anxiety


Try to remember that anxiety is a normal part of the human experience.
Take some deep breaths and allow your body to respond in a relaxed state.
Where possible, use acceptance as a way to challenge yourself to move forward and feel what you’re feeling.

Reverse Engineer your thought process


Your thoughts can either add fuel to feeling overwhelmed or slowly start to put the fire out. Thoughts and feelings of unpredictability naturally add to your mental state and can cause significant distress. To manage these thoughts, ask yourself this one question: “Is what I’m currently thinking unhelpful?” Using this response will help unpack new, positive thoughts that help change the way you think. It will take consistency. 


Basic Strategy#2: Make Deadlines Work For You


There’s one thing not many of us enjoy- Deadlines. Whether it’s showing up to work on time, having a project due, or having dinner prepared, we work with deadlines daily. Some we inflict on ourselves, and others are set for us. When there’s a set time to finish a task, it creates unnecessary stress. To reduce stress and improve productivity to reach a deadline, understand your ideal stress level effectively. A way to do this is to look at the type of project you have ahead of you and review how your stress levels impact performance.

What you find is more manageable tasks yield better results when there’s a high level of stress. But when you’re experiencing those high levels, a more difficult task becomes harder to perform. That’s where the onset of feeling overwhelmed sets in. Before setting deadlines or agreeing to them, ask yourself how you manage stress from start to finish. Break down the deadline into smaller tasks, decide on what’s easy and hard, then review when you can perform at your best, without distractions. 


Basic Strategy#3: Plan Your Day


When we feel overwhelmed and exhausted, it’s often because we are time-poor. Either we take on too much, or we’re not effectively managing our days. By getting back to basics, you can put in a daily plan that sets you up for performing high energy tasks at the most optimal times. While everybody’s schedule is different, the ability to plan effectively can lie in what you think about the evening before.

You will have an idea of what times you have the most energy. Plan out those tasks and remind yourself the night before what it is you hope to achieve and when you will achieve them. Although initially you may need to use a little bit of willpower, the consistency in performing at the appropriate times reduces stress and provides exceptional results. 


Basic Strategy #4: Create Tangible Targets


Whether you’re an entrepreneur, athlete, career-focused professional, or anyone seeking performance, the feeling of not moving forward can be frustrating. Many of our efforts lead us to conceptual results, meaning we see only see improvement in our heads. The disadvantage of this means that we believe we haven’t progressed as far as we really have, leading to a feeling of overwhelm and anxiety. To overcome this, by creating something tangible, we can visually see the progress made. Whether it’s reaching certain stages in building a product, hitting targets, or simply completing a small task, there are opportunity and clarity in creating tangible targets. Have something to show for what you’re working on. 


Basic Strategy #5: Ask For Help


One of the most significant factors in reducing stress is asking for help. Something I’m consistently working on, whether it’s reaching out to a friend or outsourcing work to make my life easier. Quite often, we spend the most amount of time on minor tasks. Those tasks can be solved by simply a) understanding how to solve the problem or b) merely solving the problem. We often get fixated on finding a solution ourselves, no matter how small or large. Asking for help isn’t a character flaw; it’s a sign of character. It’s determining when you’re having diminishing returns on a project or task, then using that leverage to keep stress and anxiety at an adequate level.  


Feel Overwhelmed? Challenge Your Assumptions 


When it all becomes too much, It’s likely that what we assume is keeping us stuck in unproductive behaviours. For example, “If I don’t do X, then I’ll fail at Y”. Or “If I don’t work longer hours, I won’t be viewed as a productive worker”. These patterns can incur a buildup of stress. By continually identifying our behaviours and the cause of what makes you feel overwhelmed, you can mitigate the frequency and extent of anxiety. 

As yourself this question: “What is the next step I can take to make my life easier?”