Signs of Overwhelm & Ways to Move Forward

Overwhelm…. oh overwhelm!

Overwhelm can show in various aspects of life. For various reasons and in different ways, depending on who you are speaking to. I had overwhelm show up recently, in this journey in Business.

Before I had the awareness of what overwhelm looked like for me, I did not know the warning signs and would not see it coming.

In my previous blog on  Boundaries I wrote about how the result of going full-on in life and not taking breaks and time for self-care landed me out of commission and sick. My body literally shut down forcing a much-needed break.  I believe there is great correlation between overwhelm and denying the moments needed to break and rejuvenate which leads to illness if we are not listening to our inner selves. Essentially overwhelm is the precursor to burn out, if I do not catch overwhelm “in its tracks”.

As I develop new skills and habits and continue to grow, I also get tested and that’s exactly what happened with me with overwhelm, very recently!

This time I didn’t see it coming! And it all felt so familiar, I was coming up on another two-weeks of “full steam ahead”, another full schedule jammed with all things in life.
Amidst the mayhem, I had time set aside for ‘down time’ to unplug for a few hours and reconnect. Despite knowing that downtime was coming, I was spinning my tires. I started stressing about time; time to complete things and wondering if the downtime scheduled would be ‘enough’.


When the overwhelm hit hard for me, I was in a business class. I had debated going due to timing and other commitments. Being a fairly extroverted person (Though, I find myself transitioning into introverted ways as time goes on), I figured I would get to the class and get re-energized and all would unfold wonderfully!
The class started out well and I was extremely engaged and enjoying the class. It was about half-way through that I felt exhaustion take over. I suddenly felt overloaded with the information being presented, struggled to focus and I found myself running a ‘disaster film’ in my head. A ‘disaster film’ of the lack of knowledge about the subject and “how I would ever manage to ‘master’ it all”?
…And the ‘to do list’ and deadlines that I had circling in my head didn’t help!
Signs of Overwhelm:

  1. Lack of focus in the present moment
  2. Stress about a future event(s) that has not happened yet and running a disaster film
  3. Dreading thing(s) you have to do/attend
  4. The inability to say ‘no’

    Keys to keep in mind;
    *Overwhelm looks different for different people
    *Overwhelm for one person can look different at different times
    *Overwhelm is as much a physical as it is a mental piece and isn’t necessarily about getting to work.

Once I was home and, in a space, where I was able to decompress, I realized that I was creating this spin of overwhelm. The biggest “ah-ha” was that I had stressed over deadlines that were self-imposed! AND I had a conversation with a classmate earlier that night about how some times, we humans get so set on doing things ONE particular way. As if that there is no other way, no adjustments that can be made.

A few hours later I had the opportunity to experience learnings from said conversation first-hand. The deadlines I created, I was able to change and adjust. It allowed me to create more space mentally. I also had the opportunity to look at the commitments I made for the rest of the week to see where I had flex time, where I was able to add time to complete the extended deadlines, etc.

It was an incredibly important reminder that for me, when overwhelm creeps up it is a great BIG sign that I need time for ME. To slow down.

I need to take time to fill my “cup” so that I can in turn, fill the cup of those around me.

Questions to ask yourself & actions to  overcome overwhelm:

  1. Step back, step outside if you are with people, if you cannot step away set the intention to take time to take time and space as soon as you can be alone, even for a few minutes.
    – Meditate; whether listening to a guided meditation (Many available on You  Tube – one of my favourites ~ Freedom Meditation)

         – Use essential oils if you have access to them

  1. Journal or write a list of what is on your mind; it could be one item, it could be five items, whatever number it is for you, get it onto paper
    -If you are auditory, record a voice note on your phone
  1. Let a task go, if feasible to do so
    -Is there anything that can be adjusted?
  1. Set a limit of how much you will do that day and move what can be completed on another day
  2. In the kindest way possible; Are you making Sh*% up? Ask yourself: How do I know that this is ABSOLUTELY true

It has been a process of un-learning. Unlearning that all things in life do not have to happen one way or no way at all. There are so many ways to do life; family, friends, business projects, creative expression, how we process emotions and significant life events and the list goes on.

When I could see that there was choice, flexibility, alternative ways to tackle the tasks on my ‘to do’ list and the opportunity to ‘do overwhelm differently’, I could breathe again. I felt relief in that I had MORE ability for success because my mind was clear and I had worked through the overwhelm.

Life rarely flows in a straight line. It often zig-zigs, up and down like a rollercoaster.  I choose to embrace the flow of life and allow myself to adjust as needed. To flow when possible and be present.

Dream BIG my friends <3

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