5 Steps: Go from Overwhelmed to Productive and Calm

How are you feeling these days?  It’s September now and summer is officially over today –it’s the first day of fall.  If you have children, they are back in school, you probably feel like you are getting back into your routines and hopefully ready to welcome fall and all it has to offer…cooler temperatures, spiced lattes, the leaves will change colour and so on.

That said, how many of you are feeling a bit anxious about ramping up?  How is your commute?  There are children to watch for, school buses stopping for children and have you noticed, with summer vacations over, there are so many more people on the roads again?  Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that is coming at you, at home or at the office, even if it is new opportunities or as a business owner, new business?  Perhaps you are approaching your company’s fiscal year-end or other deadlines?

Well, I can safely say, that you’re not alone AND the good news is, you can transform that overwhelmed feeling into feeling more productive and calm.  How?  Here are 5 simple steps and a few gentle reminders that I shared recently in a Transformational Tuesday Workshop with my colleague and friend, Jessy Morrison.  These steps were well received by our participants and they are real easy to practice each day.

  1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling – this is the first step because it’s the most important step. Until you acknowledge what you are feeling, you will have a tough time moving forward.  Take a few moments and quietly honour what you are feeling and where you feel that overwhelm.
  • If you feel tension in your head (you may experience headaches or sinus pressure) when you’re stressed.
  • If you wear your heart-on-your-sleeve, you may feel pressure or tightness in your chest, have ‘trouble breathing’ when you’re stressed.
  • If you are a gut person, you may experience an ‘upset tummy’ or ‘achy feeling in your gut’ when you’re stressed.

These are all very real sensations and individual to you.  Pay attention to any of these signs… they are real signals that you are feeling overwhelmed and your body is stressed.  You will not be productive in this state.  Alleviating or releasing your feelings can come in various forms; write in your journal, express emotion solely or with someone you trust, talk and/or vent with a friend or partner.  Listen to music, do a meditation or yoga, go for a walk or a run.  This is a critical step.  Recognize your feelings, acknowledge them and give yourself permission to allow your feelings come out.  This is healthy, very normal and will serve you well.

  1. Talk nice to yourself – you are so nice to others, you give them the benefit of the doubt, and you make excuses for why they didn’t finish something or arrive on time. However, when it comes to yourself, you are cruel, you call yourself names and beat yourself up.  You start to doubt yourself, your abilities and your strengths.  You may even have self-destructive thoughts and feel negative towards yourself.  One of the best ways to begin to transform the feelings of overwhelm, is to practice positive self-talk daily, throughout the day.

Sample Positive Message: I am able to get stuff done.  I can achieve my goals because I am good at what I do.  I have the power to say “no” when needed and am worthy of putting myself first, to ensure that I can perform at my best.  I deserve abundance and to be happy.  I will set aside at least 1 hour a day for me – it’s not selfish, it’s self-care.  I know that self-care is important to continued personal growth and success!

  1. Refine your to do list – you are great at creating stress and putting added pressure on yourself each day. Right?  How?  Well, let’s see… you conjure up a list the length of your arm, of what you’ll do before work, during your lunch hour, after work, before you even get home to cook dinner… and convince yourself that you have to get it all done.  What happens?  You become paralyzed by these unrealistic expectations!

How can you overcome this?  Create your list (the night before whenever possible), highlight or put a star beside the Top 3 (yes, just 3) tasks you would like to or need to accomplish each day.  Review your top priority tasks with a coffee or tea in the morning and once complete, check them off or draw a line through it and celebrate your success, you deserve it!  We’ll go into more depth on this in Step 5!

  1. Be focused – we all love the idea of ‘multi-tasking’. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are not built for multi-tasking.  When you multi-task, you often give up effectiveness for efficiency.  When you multi-task, you use it as a method of coping with all the stuff you need to do.  The truth is, humans are not meant to do multiple things at one time.  We have one set of hands, one set of ears and one set of eyes, all of which need to work together to accomplish a task.

Think about it.  Next time you go to answer the phone, try to respond to an email or file some paperwork and pay close attention.  You will find yourself typing the conversation you’re having, causing you to back-space and re-write your email or worse, having to retract it!  You will also be on the phone twice as long because you will ask the person on the other end to repeat themselves over and over.  Likewise, even if you’re just trying to catch up on some filing, you are more likely to file incorrectly and have to repeat the task again later.  My point?  Focus, breathe, be in the moment and stay on task until it’s complete.  You will be much faster, more satisfied and feel amazing when you cross another task off your list!

  1. Keep up the Momentum – once you have refined your to-do list and you are focused, be sure to keep up the momentum and celebrate each success, great or small along the way. It is so gratifying to complete a task or a project!  So go ahead, celebrate or reward yourself and watch your productivity increase along with your motivation!  Remember, rewards may include: enjoying a hot cup of tea in the afternoon and/or reading for 20 minutes, taking a walk.  Practicing self-care is great because it doesn’t have to cost anything and it’s good for your health!  Other benefits include: feeling accomplished, increased productivity and best of all, you will feel calmer.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Give these simple steps a try, they do work, if you pay attention and follow through.  You are a human being, not a human doing.  You feel before you think, so doesn’t it make sense to pay attention to how you feel, take care of yourself, so that you can think and be productive?  I believe this 100%.  What are your thoughts or feelings about this?  We love hearing and interacting with you, so be sure to leave a comment below.

Written by:

Heather Wilson, ATC