When we’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s easy to feel stressed, confused, and at risk of burnout.
I recently shared a post across social media along the lines of “One of the best lessons in life is to master how to remain calm if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work”.
This single post created a lot of engagement, which is nice, but not the focus of this article.
The comments I received led to this article. Things like:
“I really wish I would know how”
“I really need that”
“Would love to be able to master this”
“It’s a big challenge for many, including myself”
“I need to work on stop feeling overwhelmed at work”
Our daily lives throw up a lot of pressure and uncertainty, both in our business and at home.
There is a sense for many that there is too much to do and too little time. This creates a feeling of overwhelm at work at in our home lives, which often leads to procrastination, stress and fearful inaction.
Rather than staying calm, simplifying and prioritising we can get flustered and overwhelmed with the number of things we think we have to do.
Instead of being productive and moving forward we stay rooted to the spot.
Here are 10 simple strategies you can use when you feel overwhelmed at work and in your personal life:
1. Use The If/Then Method
Rather than react to everything that’s happening around you at work, the things that cause us to go from calm to stressed and overwhelmed, think about choosing and creating your response.
You have the ability to choose whether to take things in your stride or let external stimuli throw your off course.
We all face different pressures every day, but a lot of them we have seen before.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, try setting up your internal response in advance.
Ask yourself what your ideal response would be if certain things happen., so you know “If X happens, Then I’ll do Y”
If you can create a number of scenarios in advance, when you’ve experienced overwhelm before, you’ll know your responses in advance.
This will help you maintain balance, equilibrium and a sense of calm when overwhelm comes up.
2. Create A Freedom Hour
When you’re overwhelmed at work, taking a freedom hour is a great habit to create.
A freedom hour is an hour out of your day just for you. This is about creating balance in your day and rejuvenating your mind and body.
This could be going for a walk, reading, meditating, doing yoga or just sitting and thinking.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, take this time away.
Your body will go into a relaxed state and help you see think more clearly, reassess any sense of overwhelm and calm your mind.
3. Focus On Achieving Three Things Every Day
The first step here is to be clear on your goals. This bring clarity and focus.
When you break each goal down into an Action Plan you know what you need to do and by when, which calms feelings of overwhelm.
If you set an objective to achieve three major things each day, it is much harder to become overwhelmed at work, rather than having 10 or more things on your to do list.
You will have the calmness of being clear where to focus your time and through ongoing success you will build momentum and confidence.
4. Focus On One Thing At A Time
Multi-tasking is one of the core drivers of overwhelm at work and stress.
Jumping between projects, often giving up one to start another one and never finishing the first one.
There is often a mindset of keep doing more and more rather than doing just one thing really well.
Wouldn’t it feel better to focus on just one thing rather than having 8 or 10 things floating through your mind?
Do just one thing. Complete it and then move onto the next project or task.
5. Don’t Let The Small Stuff Overwhelm You
I hear many people talk about how busy they are, how overwhelmed at work they are. But often, they’re just taking passive action.
They’re staying in their comfort zone and working on lots of small things rather than challenging themselves to shoot for bigger goals and opportunities.
By working on lots of small tasks that can often feel important in the moment, they experience overwhelm instead of focused action.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the bigger picture.
6. Be More Flexible
Sometimes we just need to adapt when we feel overwhelmed at work. Everything will not be perfect and go according to plan every time.
One thing you can do is build tolerances into your timeline. If you believe a project will take a day to complete give yourself a day and a half.
This will give you a higher degree of comfort if things take you off your ideal path, reducing the chance for overwhelm.
Another tip is to just take a step back and spend 15-30 minutes recalibrating and planning your next step rather than just reacting and jumping in.
You will stay more calm and focused.
7. Believe In Your Original Path
If things happen that derail you from your original path the simple question to ask yourself is “Was the original plan correct?”
If it is, step back, dust yourself down, deal with the thing, but then move forward. If you are confident about where you’re headed any setbacks will be short-term.
8. Focus On The Positive
Sometimes our mind can make up stories about situations that are far bigger than actual reality.
When this happens fear and overwhelm often set in, leading to inaction.
If you look at the situation through a frame of positivity your mind will stay calm. If things haven’t gone well, ask yourself what can you learn from the situation.
If one route isn’t working, become solution driven rather than letting the overwhelm sweep over you.
9. Talk It Through
If you’re struggling to see through the trees and feeling more and more stuck sometimes the best course of action is to talk it through with someone.
The other person is not ‘in the centre’ of the situation and can provide a different, calmer perspective and advice.
10. Breathe Through It
When we are anxious and overwhelmed at work it’s hard to get anything done. We also often make bad decisions as we’re not thinking clearly.
If you already meditate, sit quietly somewhere and just breathe through it.
Another simple technique is to take a deep breath through your nose and then release it through your mouth. Repeat this 10 times, or until your feel calmer and in control.
Ready to jump to the next level?
Mark Pettit is a Business Coach who helps successful entrepreneurs create a vision of their ideal future and then build a plan and path to create it. By having this clarity, his clients are able to expand their freedom and multiply their revenue and growth.
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