When the Overwhelm Creeps In


I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a lot of weeks over the past couple of years when the overwhelm creeps in on me. Things pile up. Work gets busy. Home gets busy. Throw in an unexpected emergency, and I feel like I can’t get ahead of anything. And BAM. Overwhelm hits me.

Back in February, I was planning out March and early April. I thought I had plenty of time to get everything done. My eldest son would be home for his Spring Break week. I wanted to work a lighter schedule that week. I had two courses I was facilitating online, and they would both be wrapping up. My brother got married last weekend. I planned my work schedule accordingly and thought everything was in hand.

Best laid plans

It was little stuff at first, and then it was big. My wife changed jobs and our daily schedule changed. We had a medical scare with the youngest. My dad became ill. He landed in the ER on the morning of the wedding rehearsal. Our carefully laid plans went up in smoke.

There were several extra doctor’s appointments to manage. The schedule change meant my working hours were suddenly shortened. The wedding meant extra people in the house for a few days. The added stress of worrying made it harder to calmly handle all the extra tasks.

You can’t always predict that it’s coming, but you can have a plan for responding to it. How could I get better at responding to the overwhelm in the moment?

So, what can you do? Here are 3 ideas.

  1. Identify what you need. In these super stressed moments, I know what I need. It’s usually to slow down, take care of myself, breathe, and get some things off my plate. Identify ONE THING you need as a starting place. Otherwise, you’ll just contribute to your own overwhelm rather than managing it.
  2. Ask for help. Put down the Super-Person cape, get over your pride, and ask for help. People probably like you and are happier to step in and help carry your burden than you realize. Four fingers pointing right back at me on this one…
  3. Realized you said yes to too many things? Politely ask for forgiveness and back out. Yes, it really is that simple. People are more forgiving than you think. And if they aren’t, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

That’s all I got. Overwhelm creeps in more often than I’d like. These strategies won’t solve the world’s problems, but they do help me in the moment. I hope they help you, too.

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