How To Manage Overwhelm
Last week, I had the first week of kindergarten (the first year of "big school" for those of you not from Australia). Let me rephrase that, my daughter had her first week of kindergarten, not me. But she is fine, and I was not so fine!
Everyone I have said this to has replied with, "yes, it's very emotional" and "oh it's so overwhelming". For me, I didn't find it so emotionally overwhelming, I wasn't sad about my daughter going to school. I was excited, even though I cried on the first day (normalised by everyone else doing the same thing).
It was more the stress that got me, the pressure of the rest of the week looming ahead. Part of that was self-imposed, and part of it was all of the new rules. The structure of school and trying to adapt to that got me in a state.
I processed all of this by talking about it (as I do, if you know me). If anyone asked, I spoke about how I was feeling and why, dealing with this as I moved into the second week of school life.
Part of processing this for me was acknowledging my anger towards the situation. I was frustrated in the male/female split of duties, which is the self-imposition I mentioned earlier. I had changed all my client times so I could be available for drop off and pick up, being present for the morning and the afternoons. This was all extremely stressful to deal with solo, especially having to adhere to the strict school times.
As I spoke about this further with people, I realised I needed to ask for support.I couldn't do it all on my own (hats off to those who can/have to).
This whole situation caused me to start thinking about overwhelm in other areas of our lives - what process do we need to move through to address this? What helps pull us out of overwhelm when we're really in it?
Here are the steps to use for when you're feeling overwhelmed:
1. Recognise what pressures you are putting on yourself.
Sometimes I think, "I have to do that" or "I must do this" and I feel like I need to take on everything. Which is simply not possible!
What can you delegate? What extra support can you take advantage of?
Which leads me to...
2. Ask For Help
Feeling all the overwhelm amongst this school time, I simply turned my calender to my husband, with clients booked in all over the place, and asked what we were going to do about it!
Needless to say, as I write this he is picking our daughter up from school.
Now, I know not every situation is this easy, but ask whoever you can to help out and don't be afraid to admit you need help!
Look at your calender the week before and start to make plans. Organising yourself and your family can be a big task BUT it certainly takes much of the overwhelm out of the equation.
Most of all, look at your schedule and see if there is anything you can remove to make some space.
We're so busy most of the time, but what do we actually NEED to be doing, what do we value and what are we just doing because we feel we have to?
Make sure most of what you are doing is enriching, giving you something back, sparking joy (blog on that here).
4. Be Forgiving
We are so hard on ourselves, a lot of the time. There is that guilt around are we doing the best we can for our kids, should we be doing more. And even if you don't have kids, you feel this guilt around yourself or your pets or your work or your partner, it's overwhelming in itself!
My daughter's lunchbox has stayed the same since day one because, that's the best we can do right now! And I won't feel guilty about that. She is getting a nutritious lunch and I am not having to spend hours in the kitchen creating a Masterchef lunch experience. It's such un-necessary pressure that we put on ourselves.
5. Make Sure You Do Something For You, Too
Self care is so important during times of overwhelm, yet it's the first thing that we sacrifice.
I have been going for a swim everyday, even on the weekend when I didn't want to get up early. I've been taking the family so the kids can be entertained whilst I swim laps. Even though my time on my own is reduced, I am making sure I carve some time (somewhere) out for myself.
You need to prioritise yourself, it's probably the most important step of them all!
Do you need some support around managing overwhelm in your life?
I would love to chat to you about some strategies we could put in place to help get you thriving, not just surviving.