Can overcoming overwhelm exercises help me avoid burnout?
We all know the feeling, that moment when EVERYTHING starts to feel “too much.”
When the job we once loved starts to feel too demanding or when our calendar is filled with event after event. Those moments when life pushes us too close to the edge and we’re dancing between overwhelm and burnout.
Those seasons where you’re barely making it through the day, not getting enough sleep and getting up and doing it all over again.
You feel like screaming, you’re maybe struggling to just breathe. You’re there wondering how can you do this, and am I having a panic attack?
So, what do you do? How do you stop yourself from falling apart entirely?
Know one thing – burnout is not inevitable! Overwhelm doesn’t have to define your life.
You can overcome the overwhelm and avoid burnout in life, with these 7 tips. Think of them as daily coping strategies for stress and overwhelm.
7 Ways to Overcome Overwhelm and Not Burn Out
#1. Create and Respect Your Boundaries
When you don’t create or mark your boundaries clearly, people start encroaching. They use up your time and energy in ways that benefit them without a care for your deadlines, obligations, goals or comfort.
You end up scrambling for time and playing catch-up on everything without actually making much progress. The result – burnout. Looking and being busy might sound productive, but isn’t necessarily so. You might be busy all the time without actually getting anywhere like the hamster in a wheel.
Learn to say no for the right reasons and the right way. It’s a life skill that’ll help you in a million other ways besides reducing unnecessary stress in your life.
Remember, it’s more about saying yes to a more balanced approach to life than turning someone down. But, you’ve to respect your own boundaries before you can encourage others to do so.
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For example, if you decide on not carrying your work home, stick to it. Don’t make exceptions. Because once you do, you’ll convince yourself again of another one, which you simply ‘have to do’.
Ultimately, you’ll end up with working in the office, at home, on the weekends and hurtling towards overwhelming without any brakes on.
Personal and professional boundaries help you:
- Stay focused on what’s important.
- Increase efficient productivity.
- Ensure you’re physically, mentally and emotionally healthy to effectively work towards your life goals.
- Enjoy and actually live your life rather than just trudge through it.
#2. Introspection and Mindfulness
Changes can be stressful but unavoidable. The world around us changes and so do we. Some quiet time set aside for yourself will give you the opportunity to introspect and be mindful of what currently makes you happy, what don’t you like anymore and how your expectations from life have changed.
It’s important to check regularly whether your actions are still relevant for your possibly changed priorities, likes, dislikes, and goals. Because if they aren’t, then they’re using up valuable time, energy and resources while likely adding to your overall stress.
I like Shamash Alidina’s (author of The Mindful Way Through Stress) take on mindfulness to handle stressors. He calls it the four ‘A’s of stress management. It’s mindfulness in the sense that you pay undivided attention to the issue, how you feel, what would make you feel better, and how you feel while executing the strategy.
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Here’s how it works.
- Adapt – Look at the stressor as a problem to be solved, a challenge. A positive mindset helps you with this approach.
- Alter – If the situation is too big to handle and thus overwhelming, break it up into smaller parts that are more manageable. Attending a 3-day work summit stressing you out? Focus on reaching there and finding your bearings. Then focus on going to the first meet. So on and so forth.
- Avoid – If avoiding the person or situation causing stress is possible and won’t make much difference, then, by all means, make your life easier, avoid it.
- Accept – If the stressor is absolutely unalterable, accept it. Reason it out. Get into the ‘why’ behind it. This reduces stress before it turns into overwhelm.
#3. Become an Organized Person
“You have a choice in life. You can either live on-purpose, according to a plan you’ve set. Or you can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others.” – Michael Hyatt
Nip the problem in the bud. Get your life and actions organized.
It might sound like a lot of work and well, maybe adding to the stress. But, it actually is going to reduce a lot of uncertainty, which is one of the major causes of stress and overwhelm in our life.
An organized home and workspace will save you loads of time guessing and trying to find things. Not to mention, clutter creates stress. An organized approach to time will leave you with clear blocks of time for personal and professional commitments.
Here are a few ways to get more organized:
- Spring clean your life of the clutter
- Embrace minimalism in your daily life
- Create a capsule wardrobe
- Plan your days and week in advance
- Clean up your paper clutter and organize your files
- Get organized with the cloud
- Use a digital calendar and set reminders
When you use energy and efforts in an organized way, you’re more productive and efficient while still having time to actually have some fun. Overcoming overwhelm becomes smoother when you can follow a plan, reduce uncertainty and get a realistic idea of how much you can comfortably fit into a day.
Take small goal-oriented steps each day and let those add up to maybe something even better than what you had planned for.
#4. No failures, Only Learning
Failures or what I like to call ‘unsuccessful trials’ can be a source of a lot of stress not only because of what couldn’t be gained, but also what it’ll make others think of us. Look at these not as proof of your shortcoming or inadequacy, but as reminders of where you need to put in more effort or what changes need to be made.
When you change your attitude towards failure, the emotions and feelings it evokes also changes. Bring out your positive outlook on life and look at these as opportunities for growth and challenges to be won.
Be proactive in identifying and dealing with stress that any little failure causes. Left alone, they build up into overwhelm making any kind of action a challenge. Remind yourself of your strengths, your positives and learn to reframe your misses at success as just another point on your learning curve.
#5. Positive Outlook and Problem-Solving Attitude
With a positive outlook on life, you can turn stress into a stimulant rather than a source of overwhelm. Nurture a look-for-the-silver-lining kind of attitude so that you can turn stressors from being black holes for all motivation into problems to be solved.
Limiting beliefs have a tendency to amp up stress in any situation. Say, for example, you’re an introvert and have been requested (which you can’t decline) to host a gathering of 20 people. You can react in 2 ways – a) freak out, or b) exercising your positive attitude, figure out how it can be good for you without bringing your introverted discomfort into the picture.
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It’s a no-brainer that the first option pushes you towards stress and overwhelm. The second option, however, helps you shift your focus to what’s important so that you stay motivated with a justified ‘why’.
When you have a problem-solving attitude, what you’re basically doing is taking the overworked emotional equation out of it. Emotional overdrive causes overwhelm. When you face life hurdles as problems to be solved, you react more rationally and productively.
#6. Tune Down Self-Judgement, Show Self-Love
Stop comparing yourself or your life to anyone else’s. Psychology Today calls it social comparison theory – deciding our “self-worth based on how we stack up against others we perceive as somehow faring better or worse.”
When we compare ourselves to others, we think of the qualities that don’t match up as our shortcomings. So tone down that inner voice that tells you-you’re not successful or happy or whatever because you don’t match up to someone else.
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Show some self-love and accept yourself for who you are, not how you measure up to some invisible standards. Rephrase your supposed limitations. For example, think of ‘introverted’ as ‘good listener’.
Introspect and analyze where your barometers for desirable life qualities are coming from. Because if the reason is ‘because it just is’ or ‘that’s what is generally believed to be true’, then you certainly need to dig deeper. Chasing dreams based on such beliefs can lead to overwhelm pretty quickly.
#7. Stress Relief and Self-Care
“You don’t need new ways to manage your stress, you need to prevent it from overwhelming you in the first place.” A piece of very valid advice from Dr. Samantha Brody, author of Overcoming overwhelm: Dismantle your stress from the inside out.
Making relaxation, winding down, cozy contentment, unplugging and basically self-care a part of the daily routine (even if you can squeeze in a bare 20 minutes), will go a long way in overcoming overwhelm.
When you create healthy habits like exercising or meditating regularly, you do more than just take care of your physical health. You actually are nurturing resilience towards stressors that might cause overwhelm in the long run.
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Avoid Burnout by Avoiding Overwhelm
The most important thing for overcoming overwhelm is changing your thoughts because they control your feelings.
When you feel buried under stifling stress, stop and introspect. What are you telling yourself about your priorities, about your must-dos, about the source of your self-worth, and about your life in general?
Because these thoughts are powerful enough to guide your actions towards the mindful realization of your personal and professional goals or towards busyness and overwhelm.
Spring Clean Your Mind Checklist
Feeling overwhelmed, and in need of a mental break “from it all”? Get the Spring Clean Your Mind Checklist, it has 12 easy ways to focus on your mental and emotional health day.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu
What’s your equation with stress?
Does it help you get better results or is it something that affects your quality of life?
How will you overcome overwhelm and avoid burnout?
More About Guest Contributor
Hi, I’m Nandita from Nandyz Soulshine. I help and encourage better life believers on their journey of personal growth. Sharing with an open heart whatever I’ve learned through hard-earned experience and curiosity, I hope to motivate positivity seekers towards the conviction that – We have the power to change our life story if we believe in ourselves and take one small step in the right direction every day.