Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Feeling overwhelmed??? Gain control with these easy, doable 6 steps

We’re coming to that time of year when things start to get a little stressful. I know it is the season for  crackling bonfires, Christmas parties and mulled wine (my favourite!) but it is also common for it to be one of the most stressful, and stats back this up. Christmas is said to be the 6th most stressful life event, with divorce, moving house and changing jobs in the running, but probably made worse by the fact it is an annual occurrence (unlike the others).

As we approach the end of the year, it becomes ridiculously busy both at work and at home.

picture from http://masteringtoday.me

It means ensuring the activities on our business plans are complete and we’re already thinking of next year’s projects, plus trying to organise the perfect Christmas for the family (catering for fussy eaters and impressing your mother-in-law) which is no mean feat.

Chuck into the mix that the weather is god dam depressing and that our inevitable over-eating and under-exercising is going to affect our energy levels… I am knackered just thinking about it!
So it is easy to see, how easy it is to be over-whelmed!

Whilst you can’t take the stresses away (short of telling your boss to ‘do one’ and sacking off the seasons festivities completely, which if you do, please enlighten me!)  you can do something about how you keep calm and focused.

The first step of course is to know the warning signs so you can banish that overwhelming feeling and regain control. I had this feeling of “there is too much going on at once” recently and these simple steps helped me quickly regain control within a matter of days.

Listen in…

Top tip 1: Write a to do list
First off, before you lose it, write yourself a to-do list. It really does help to get it all out in black and white so you can see what you have to tackle. When 101 things are whirling through our head at once in no systematic order, it is easy to think we have more to do than we really have. Getting it out of our head and into some order can instantly help reduce the stress and sense of feeling overwhelmed. Whether it is finding the perfect presents for the kids or wowing your boss with the report, write the tasks down.

Top tip 2: Prioritise  
Once you have your to-do list, then go throug h it and highlight items that need to be done but ones that can be delayed, eliminated completely or delegated. Just because it is on your to do list, doesn’t mean it has to be done instantly!

This is something I sometimes fight myself over – if I have something on my to-do list, even if it isn’t urgent or important at the current moment, I am itching to get it done and ticked off. A way to help reduce that feeling of having too much on, is to learn how to prioritise! Number them in order of importance if this helps.

Remember, you don’t have to do everything today – Rome wasn’t built in a day so they say.

Top tip 3: Don the lycra 
Ok, so the lycra isn’t mandatory but exercise is. Luckily I am one of those people that loves a good workout, and getting a sweat on makes me feel refreshed, energised and ready to tackle the world. It totally banishes that feeling over being overwhelmed.

However, even if you’re not a gym bunny or not happy to potter around in lycra, getting moving will help. You don’t have to pound the pavement or engage in a downward dog for an hour to see the benefits. Gentle stretching, going for a walk on your lunch break or enjoying a dip in a pool will be hugely beneficial to reducing your boiling point.

Top tip 4: Don’t do other people’s dirty work
Let’s be honest, we have all done it ourselves – we have fobbed off a job we’re less than keen to do to a colleague. Perhaps it’s because you can’t be bothered to find out the correct SOP or find the original email with the instructions, or you think that this task will take longer than expected.

But in order to reduce the stress, reduce the amount of dirty work you pick up from others. I am not saying that you become the office Grinch and never help anyone ever, or that you never offer to help your partner with the dishes. I am just saying to be a bit careful what you agree on and when you can deliver it by. See what you can eliminate from your to do list.

For example, we’re eliminating the stress of Christmas dinner by taking the family out to a restaurant. No shopping, no prepping veg, no arguments over who got the biggest pudding or the most pigs-in-blankets.

Adding to your plate, means adding to your stress.

Top tip 5: Sleep
I used to think sleep was for wimps, that scrimping on sleep was the way to gain more hours into my day. I read on numerous occasions that this doesn’t work and you’re not cheating the clock, just your own energy. Turns out all that advice was right! Sleeping is not for wimps, it’s for success and productivity champions!

Since I have tried to start getting my 7 hours in a night, have I got less done because I have less time?

Not at all! In fact I am better off as I am allowing myself to regularly recharge my batteries, meaning I can operate at full pace again each day! It has helped reduce that sense of anxiousness and feeling overwhelmed.

Top tip 6: Ask – does it really matter?
When it all starts getting too much, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. We get the classic case of “first world problems”…Your niece’s present being out of stock, the presentation you delivered didn’t quite get the response you wanted, your partner has forgotten you’ve got the work Christmas party Friday and has messed up the child care, the restaurant only has a booking for 4pm and that is far too late for Grandma to eat… argh! It all seem like the end of the world.

But in the attempt to stop yourself from going insane, take a moment to stop, and ask… does it really matter? Most times it doesn’t. What matters are things like our health, family and happiness.

Good luck and if you have any other tips, please let me know!

X x X

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