Feeling overwhelmed lately? You’re not alone. People around the world are feeling more overwhelmed than ever, in what some experts are calling “The Great Overwhelm.”
Here’s the bad news: being overwhelmed is a common experience and one that you are likely to feel many times throughout your life. Usually, it resolves as your workload lightens or a stressful period passes. But when overwhelm becomes chronic or turns into stress, it can take a physical and emotional toll on the body.
Studies show that if overwhelm is left unresolved, it can lead to a range of health concerns. This includes:
- Weakened immunity
- Weight gain
- Heart conditions
The good news? Overwhelm isn’t a state of being. It’s a feeling – and one that’s under your control. Here, we’ll offer some simple habits and tips to help you reduce feelings of overwhelm and reclaim control over your life and your health.
What to Do if You’re Overwhelmed at Work
Work stress is one of the biggest triggers of feeling overwhelmed. While you may not be able to change your boss or ignore your deadlines, these tips will help you stay calm and focused at work:
Schedule break times into your calendar.
Trying to focus all day long at work is a surefire way to ramp up overwhelm. Studies suggest that our brains can only stay in a focused state for 90 minutes before we start to lose focus and our attention falters. If you work for hours on end without a regular break, your brain has to work harder to stay on task, which depletes your energy.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking breaks is a proven way to improve your productivity and focus while keeping overwhelm at bay. Even just 5-15 minutes a few times during the workday can make a significant difference in how capable and productive you feel.
But, it’s easy to pass up on breaks if you don’t make them official. Block off time for these mini breaks on your schedule to ensure you get the downtime your brain needs.
Trim down your to-do list.
Packing your to-do list with all the things you wish you could accomplish may be doing more harm than good. A long to-do list is not only unachievable, but it can overwhelm your brain subconsciously, too.
Experts recommend only assigning yourself a small number (3 or even 1) of priority tasks on any day’s to-do list, followed by a list of “bonus” tasks. Focusing on a small number of must-do items gives you the focus you need to complete them with ease. If you have time left over, you’re free to make progress on the other items. Rather than feeling defeated and overwhelmed, you’ll feel accomplished!
Put your strengths to work.
Work will always feel overwhelming if you are in a position or project that doesn’t make use of your strengths. Consider taking a strengths-based assessment to determine what types of work you’re best suited for. Knowing the tasks that energize you and the ones that drain you makes it easier to take control of your day. Seek out projects that require more of your strengths, and delegate the tasks that fall under someone else’s strengths.
What to Do if You’re Overwhelmed at School
Overwhelm affects teachers and students alike. Prepare for your best school year yet with these tips to eliminate overwhelm in the classroom.
Teachers, if your head is spinning from all the planning, prepping, and grading you do on a daily basis, consider a batching method. With batching, you batch similar tasks together in set time chunks or for certain days. For instance, tackle all your grading on Tuesdays, or create all your lesson plans for the month in one weekend power session. This method helps reduce overwhelm because your brain can focus on one type of task at a time, rather than switch between different types of activities.
Take a movement break.
Did you know that exercise and movement help you think better and improve your memory? Studies show that exercise helps increase the brain’s plasticity, or ability to make new connections and integrate new memories.
Working in movement breaks into the school day and lesson plan can help improve cognition and reduce overwhelm for both teachers and students. Activities that involve movement, walk-and-learn sessions, or even a simple stretch can help everyone refocus and feel at ease in the classroom.
Practice breathing exercises as a class.
Breathing exercises are one of the fastest ways to de-escalate tension, calm nerves, and refocus the brain. That goes for you as well as your students! The ability to regulate the mind and body naturally is a great gift you can share with your students while buying yourself some built-in break time.
Learn a few easy breathing methods (like the 4-7-8 breath or the alternate nostril breath) to use on your own, or make regular breathing breaks as a class part of your unique classroom management style.
What to Do if You’re Overwhelmed with Parenting
Over 89% of parents feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenting. Here are a few ways you can lighten your load so you can feel more rested and enjoy quality time with your family.
Create a weekend hosting rotation with other families.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with parenting responsibilities, it’s likely that the parents of your child’s friends do too. All parents need time to themselves to recharge their batteries. And all kids need to spend time with friends to grow their social skills and make lasting friendships. Why not start a weekend rotation with a few other families to share parenting duties throughout the month? For example, each Saturday, all the kids from each family come together at one family’s home for a few hours of play while the other parents enjoy some R&R. The host home rotates each week so all families have three free Saturdays and host one Saturday per month.
Being a parent is a full-time job. For many families, there just isn’t enough time in the day to create three delicious wholesome meals on top of work, school, sports, housekeeping, and your own personal time. But, feeding your family with nutritious foods is essential for everyone to be healthy.
Meal prepping may sound like a big undertaking, but in fact, it’s a huge time and money saver for families of all sizes. To meal-prep, you plan, shop, and prepare meals for a whole week in one day. Better yet, get the whole family involved for a fun weekly bonding experience.
Along with saving you the time preparing meals each day, you’ll also save your brain the overwhelm of thinking about what to make day after day. Your family will be well fed, and you’ll have the energy to tackle the rest of your to-do list!
Schedule a “power outage.”
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because we are too “tuned in.” When the world is quite literally at our fingertips through our devices, we constantly feel pressure to do – including our kids.
Take a break from the go-go-go nature of modern life at least once a week in a fun family activity: power outage! During this time, turn off all your electronics, set aside your to-do list, and simply have good old-fashioned fun with your family. Tech-free time together helps you live in the moment and enjoy the precious time you have together. You’ll end each power outage feeling more connected and less overwhelmed.
What to Do if You’re Overwhelmed with Life in General
Let’s face it – sometimes life itself is overwhelming. Thankfully, a few simple habits can make life feel less like a challenge and more like a gift.
Get more rest.
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or student, overwhelm often stems from a lack of rest. Our busy lives often mean that we skimp on quality sleep and downtime. But, this rest is exactly what we need to feel focused and in control of our days.
Getting quality sleep is easier said than done. If you struggle to get the 8 hours (or more) per night, make sure your evening routines and bedroom are set up for sleep success. Eliminate distractions and make sure your bedroom is dark and cool. Turn off the TV and other digital devices at least one hour before bedtime to reduce the negative impact of blue light on your sleep cycle.
Still can’t fall asleep at a reasonable time? Speak to your local AlignLife Chiropractor. They can help you identify underlying causes of poor sleep or help you create better sleep habits.
Start each day with meditation.
While toppling to-do lists and other worries are our triggers, how we think about our life is the true cause of overwhelm. Thankfully, we have control over our brains and we can change how we think!
Meditation is an effective and accessible way to reframe overwhelm and feel more resilient in your daily life. Prevent overwhelm from taking over your day by starting each morning with an empowering meditation. This sets the mood for calm, focused motivation and fuels your brain with positive energy.
Researchers agree – one of the best ways to fight feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, and overwhelm is by practicing gratitude. Your brain cannot have two thoughts at the same time. So, every moment you spend relishing the good things in life is a moment you don’t spend feeling overwhelmed.
How do you practice gratitude? It can be as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for and why each day when you wake up. Or, you may choose to meditate on the things you are grateful for when you start to feel overwhelmed. Whatever you choose, remember that this simple method is the antidote to overwhelm. Use it early and often!
Overcome Overwhelm with Chiropractic Care
While overwhelm is caused by thoughts, it can have some very physical effects. Have you noticed increased tension, pain, headaches, or irregular digestion? These and other symptoms are closely linked to chronic stress and overwhelm.
Chiropractic care can help. Through tension-relieving massage and spinal adjustments, chiropractic realigns your spine and encourages better blood flow to your brain and organ systems. Better alignment means improved brain function, focus, and overall well-being.
Your chiropractor can also help you determine a nutrition plan that supports your brain health, as well as exercise and sleep tips to help you fight overwhelm and feel rested.
Now is the time to overcome your overwhelm. Take the first step by scheduling an appointment with your local AlignLife Chiropractor today!