Overwhelm is a feeling of being out of control which, if not addressed, can lead to stress and anxiety. We need to gain back the control, but are we letting our perception of time control (and overwhelm) us?

We often complete tasks depending on how long we think we have to do them in; if we think we have 3 months to complete something we’ll typically take 3 months to do it. But if we’re forced to do it in 3 weeks, we will do it in 3 weeks – therefore we had the time all along!

Author Jen Sincero advises that we must improve our relationship with time for ourselves and others and get organised. Using our calendar to block out realistic time for tasks and turning up for personal and professional appointments on time (or early!) is recognised good practice.

To focus, we first need to recognise our own individual distractions and then take measures to protect ourselves against them.

Use your phone clock alarm – set it 30 minutes before you need to leave the house to pack your bag, change clothes etc. Eliminate the last minute fluster in finding the keys, changing your mind about which coat to wear etc. You may well need longer if you’ve kids to organise.

‘Chunk down’ and get unstuck. Chunking down a large project into manageable tasks will help you get started as well as prevent feelings of overwhelm:-

Write down your goals and their relevant tasks. Allocate a grade to each task for how important it is to you and to what extent doing that task will take you closer to achieving your goal and do those first. Consider which tasks must be done by you versus those which could be delegated to others.

Pay good attention to your own tasks before giving away your attention to other people’s priorities.

This may sound tricky at best, and selfish at worst. However completing a number of tasks necessary to moving you closer to achieving your own goals and objectives, before responding to messages from other people will move you forward and focus you on the right things.

This should ultimately leaving you with more time (which you could choose to spend supporting others if desired).

“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day” (‘Why We Sleep’, Matthew Walker)

We all know that gaining more time in slumber will improve our daily focus. It also helps build our resilience to overwhelm. Napping can be an effective way to boost cognitive function, but it should not be used as a substitute for a full night’s sleep.

So are we actually developing the necessary habits required to increase our sleep time every night?

In her podcast, Mel Robbins suggests working backwards to identify your REAL bedtime:

So we’ve smashed the above technique and we’re in bed ready for sleep.  So what do we do about the mind chatter which creeps in and stops us from slipping into our blissful slumber?

Managing our state is not only beneficial for when we want to get to sleep, but it can calm us when we’re feeling under pressure and want to manage feelings of overwhelm.

4-7-8 Breathing

Also known as relaxing breath, 4-7-8 breathing is a deep rhythmic technique based on pranayama practices. It involves a pattern of inhaling, holding the breath, and exhaling to reduce anxiety and feelings of overwhelm as well as promote relaxed sleep.

Try this breathing exercise using five steps:-

1. Empty your lungs completely by letting your lips part and audibly exhaling through your mouth.

2. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale quietly through your nose while counting to 4.

3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.

4. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 8.

5. Repeat this cycle around 6 times before returning to normal breathing.

Breathing exercises become more effective with practice, so persist in incorporating these exercises into your nightly routine. Try this exercise alongside other helpful habits for sleep promotion; maintain a consistent bedtime and resist drinking coffee and eating large meals in the latter part of the day.

A benefit of consciously relaxing our muscles is that we silence our ‘mind chatter’. When we intentionally focus on relaxing the different parts of our body, we focus less on troubling thoughts. It’s amazing how much tension we hold in our bodies without realising it (I find the jaw a particularly good one to focus on relaxing).

Try adopting a number of these strategies as routine – after all, we all need and deserve to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

We offer individual Coaching to support you in overcoming overwhelm and in gaining balance for the achievement of your personal and professional goals. To learn more, click here.