Stress, time poverty, and overwhelm has become incredibly common among women — in fact, it’s almost become a badge of honour!
And it’s no wonder. In a society where we’re largely expected to function linearly, exactly like men (although our biology is totally different), not to mention the association of busyness with personal value and the constant barrage of “Do more, be more, have more,” overwhelm isn’t a possibility … it’s pretty much a guarantee.
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course — that’s one of the biggest things we teach at One of Many, a different way of being that plays up your natural advantages as a woman. But this is a process, and sometimes you need something to deal with the overwhelm right now!
Enter my process for stopping overwhelm in its tracks:
Step one: STOP
Seriously, just stop whatever you’re doing. When you’re in a state of overwhelm, there’s no point in trying to push yourself forwards; you’ll most likely end up doing more harm than good. So as soon as you notice that you’re overwhelmed — maybe you’ll start crying, or get angry or anxious, maybe your back goes out — just stop.
Step two: nurture
I’ve got this theory that the frontal lobe of the brain (the bit that makes the decisions) can only make a certain number of decisions in any one period of time. Any more than that, and you hit a wall and go into overwhelm.
When you hit this point, think of it like there’s a little hurting child inside of you who’s exhausted. She stayed up too late playing with her friends, and she’s wasted. She had too much sugar, and she missed her afternoon nap, and stayed up late watching the fireworks or whatever it was, and now, she’s overwhelmed.
What do you naturally do for this little girl? You don’t berate her for being unproductive or shout at her for crying, you comfort her! So as soon as you stop whatever it is you were doing, go into your Mother archetype and give some lovely, nurturing energy to that little girl. This is absolutely vital, so don’t skip this step!
Step three: prioritise
After you’ve been in your Mother archetype and grounded down a bit more into your breath and your body, you can take a look at all the things you have to do. Now, there’s a longer process that you can go through with this that I teach step by step in BeFruitful, but the highlights are to list out absolutely everything that you have to do, then prioritise all that stuff — and for many of the things on the list, the priority is going to be “extremely low” to “never”. Your whole focus now is on getting extremely focused on only those things you must do right now.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down by chucking things that don’t really need to be done and deciding to delegate anything you possibly can, then you prioritise everything that’s left according to ABC:
Absolutely must be done today
Bloody nice if it gets done today
Could do it today
Step four: replenish
Next, leave your list alone and go do something else. I know, it goes against the grain if you’re used to pushing through, but you have got to replenish yourself a bit before you can even think of starting to work again. So go have a cup of tea, take a bath, take a walk … do something for at least 20 minutes that’s going to nurture you a bit. Again, this is really important, so don’t skip this step!
Step five: start eating the elephant
Finally, once you’ve replenished, you can have another look at your list. If there aren’t any “As” on it, then the best thing you can do is to call it for the day. Just give yourself the afternoon off, answer the very clear call from your body to stop and rest for a while.
If you do have some “A”s, then start on just one tiny thing off that list. Remember the old saying about eating an elephant? You can’t eat an elephant in one mouthful, but you can if you do it one bite at a time. So do it like that — just take one bite, and then do a little replenish, and then take another bite.
Why not practice now? List out one way that you can replenish yourself in the comments below … and then do it, whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or not!
If you’re in overwhelm right now, or would just like to know you’ve got a helping hand in place when things do start to get too much, check out the Overwhelm First Aid Kit.
It includes our step-by-step guide to get you out of overwhelm in super-quick time, a workbook to help to apply the process AND a printable handy reference guide that you can tuck into your diary or pin on your noticeboard for instant access. And it’s free! Click here to get the First Aid Kit now.
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