"Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim."
—Tyler Knott Gregson
In this newsletter I’m going to talk about Overwhelm, how we can experience it, and what can cause it.
It’s not an uplifting topic but it’s real and most of us know it in our hearts, minds and bodies. It’s never a pleasant experience, but, in his book Positive Intelligence®, Shirzad Chamine says there are gifts and opportunities in every challenge or painful experience.
So, this month may be the time to understand it better and learn how to move out of it much more quickly - or perhaps to avoid it happening.
How good would that be?
All the best!
Questions? Concerns? Curious?
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Overwhelm is a word on the lips of nearly all of my coaching clients.
The Mind-Soul Foundation says it is our brain signalling that it has too much to deal with in any given moment - and the Fight or Flight mechanism is triggered.
They compare it to being in a pool - or I prefer the image of being in the sea or the ocean. Feeling the water lapping around our ankles is fine and we cope easily with the challenges at this level. But when the water rises up around our neck we may feel we are at our coping limit. We start to physically feel our breathing becoming more shallow or perhaps quicken, maybe even experiencing palpitations or headaches.
Our thinking and emotions change and the inner critic or Judge takes the lead telling us ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘This is too much’, with the resultant anger or fear taking hold.
Our brain works hard to get us out of this state - but not in ways that really help us:
It tries to get us to reduce the demand or change the circumstance. Stimulating situations we could enjoy previously become too much.
We start making decisions from our emotional brain (quicker) instead of our analytical brain (slower). This can lead to impulsive decisions we may regret later.
We think in extremes - good/bad, success/failure, hero/villain. Our natural bias towards the negative comes to the forefront.
This negative thinking leads to not seeing solutions and feeling the situation is bleak.
Classic Causes of Overwhelm
Too many plates to keep spinning in the air and we can’t seem to complete anything...
- This conjures up childhood memories of entertainers actually racing across the stage to keep 10+ stacks of plates spinning on rods at the same time! Women (myself included) have made a virtue of multi tasking but it ain’t so! Our brain can’t cope with hopping from one activity to another and (surprise, surprise) we may not be accomplishing much at all except raising our stress levels!
- Even before the pandemic we experienced change at a level never seen before. Think of how outdated your phone is as soon as you buy it! Our brain needs and wants routine and finds change challenging yet we often don’t recognise how this contributes to our sense of overwhelm. Our lives changed radically in March 2020 and we are still reeling from it!
Our own thoughts
- Many of us need to process our thoughts out loud and WFH with the lack of social contact has hindered that hugely. For all of us, our thoughts dictate how we feel and if the Judge is directing our thoughts with that negative bias, we are in overwhelm very often.
Lack of headspace
- Others need quiet to process and may find the physical absence of a team somewhat of a relief! But, what if we are sharing space and escaping into our thoughts is not possible? Having our children and partner around in this ’shared workspace’ can be a real trigger for overwhelm for some.
- Wow! Is there anyone who doesn’t experience this?? We are bombarded with news, celebrities, and so much that we have absolutely no interest in and it’s taking a toll on our brains.
In my next newsletter, I’ll send you tips for how to move out of Overwhelm and I’ll set you a Challenge!
More on Overwhelm...
If you’re experiencing overwhelm and that sense of 'never being done’ - have a listen to my recent interview with Lisa Duerre on CTRL+ALT+DELETE!
Click here to watch the video
- Does working at home mean you need to work more?
- Where does the pressure to do more come from?
- Losing the boundaries of home life and work with the current work-at-home arrangements for a lot of people and what you can do about it.
- What leaders need to know to have an engaged workforce. Hint: The instilled culture of fear of being replaced isn’t it.
- When to appreciate and when to apologize – and why it matters.
- How having back-to-back meetings doesn’t lead to productivity.
- The myth of remote work killing profits and productivity.
- Fight or Flight. Knowing your triggers and what to choose so you can stop the overwhelm.
- Kathleen and Lisa’s views on a kind workplace and why it matters.
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