It's been a big few months.
Big deal stuff has happened, like having a 7cm gash taken off the top of my head to remove a melanoma, having one of my sisters be diagnosed with breast cancer and coping with my eldest daughter who has struggled to adjust to high-school in a gut-wrenching kind of way.
Little stuff too. Stuff, that without the biggies would normally not register - like someone hitting my car in a car park and not leaving their details, that dang hook on the dishwasher that's broken and stops it closing properly every.single.day and switching phones and losing all contacts and messages.
Throw into the mix the exponential growth of my business (kind of a great problem, right?), my on-going inability to say no to businesses out of a desire to help, the end of the financial year and a 'flu that has slowly but surely taken down each and every family member in the last fortnight including me and hullooo ...my old friend (fiend) overwhelm.
Lately, juggling business owner, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, work colleague and just good ol' fashioned human has been a struggle. And, as my kids would say - THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
Today I had to take a break and go back to basics. None of it revolutionary but if you're in overwhelm too, I hope it helps.
Here's my tips - the 5 P's to deal with overwhelm.
Just stop. Do you know that image of Looney Tune's Tassie Devil? He just kind of incessantly spins. Maybe it's because I like to think of myself as a bit of a Tassie devil too (being from Tasmania 'n all) ...but that's what I do when I am overwhelmed. I whirl and twirl. I'm lead by each and every landing email. I'm vacuuming a room and then open a cupboard and I'm sorting a cupboard, and then I'm colour-coding it, and then I'm on a horse with the Old Spice man. And then it's dinner time and I remember what I was meant to be doing and.... yeah. Not productive.
When you're in the grips of overwhelm it can feel as though the world will end if you don't get this or that done. Catastrophising sets in, the world shrinks and it gets stifling. The burden weighs so heavy that you can't take the next step as if you're stuck moving through tar. Life's got small and restricted.
The best thing to do when the walls close in is a scene change. Like a favourite matinee show, close the curtains on that set, and re-set for the new. Basically just get yo'self outta there. A walk around the block, a coffee in a cafe, a stroll to the park - even just a gaze out the window to the big blue sky. Grasp the vastness and get perspective. The world won't stop.
This is the big kahuna. If you speed read the other tips, read this closely. Overwhelm loves a lack of priorities. If you haven't ordered stuff, then our mind just crazily blurs and put it all together.
For me, the number one cause of overwhelm is I am not in the driver's seat of my priorities, of what needs to happen....I am in the back seat or possibly the kids restraint. Or the boot.
It is a crazy juggle, no doubt - but if we don't define some order, it ALL feels equally overwhelming.
Write it all out. EVERYTHING. And then number it all - 1. = Absolute priority, 2. = Get done next 3. = Good to get done when time.
De-flummox and strain your brain from the overwhelm broth. It will thank you.
This is the spirited and preferred cousin to procrastination. We all know the bad ass cousin, procrastination - "I'll just watch this show/look at Facebook one more time/hang the washing on the line/check my emails/perfect my Vogue routine ...then I'll get going on that project!" . A lot of the time, without the watchful eyes of purpose it can feel completely valid.
Purposeful action is thinking about end results (identified by priorities) and watching what we are actually THEN doing with our time. It can be a free ticket into Awkesville when we watch HOW we actually spend our time but ultimately, it invites us to have an integrity with our time and our goals.
5. PRACTICE self -compassion.
In all this, find some self-compassion. This is not the time to self-berate.
We might have to miss a dead-line, let someone down, send our child to school with a slice of cheese. We know it's not us at our best, but sometimes we need to just get by.
Gabrielle Osborne (BAcc) is a small business specialist who loves to help business owners focus on what they do best. An innovation enthusiast and determined problem-solver, Gabrielle is also fun to work with.
m: 0410 546 000