There have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve felt overwhelmed. The good news is that I’ve been in a pretty good place for the past few months. The reason I’m writing about this is that I’ve had people tell me recently that they’re stressed out and feeling a bit overwhelmed. And not just one or two people. It’s at least a dozen. Many are professional relationships, the rest are personal relationships, and they’re all people I consider friends.
There are lots of definitions for the word overwhelmed. For me, it’s when too many things are coming at me and I don’t feel like I have enough time to get it all done in a reasonable time frame.
The definition I found in the dictionary is “bury or drown beneath a huge mass” or “giving too much of something to someone.”
Real world examples include too many emails to keep up with or too many appointments in a day or week. It could even be something small like too many Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Job Promotion wishes on Facebook and LinkedIn that you feel obligated to reply to. Or something big like, “if we don’t sell enough in the next quarter, we will have to let good people go.”
When I feel overwhelmed, I usually react in one of two ways. One is positive and one is negative.
The negative reaction is despair and procrastination. It’s embarrassing to admit, but true. And the unfortunate thing is that this kind of response causes a downward spiral. I have an active imagination, so I tend to dream up lots of ways the challenges and problems are worse than they actually are. And by procrastinating, nothing is getting done, which just piles on to the idea that there is too much to do.
My positive reaction is to go for a walk. When I walk for an hour, I’m crossing something off my list for the day… exercise. And the feeling of crossing something off my list gets me on the right path… getting important things done. And walking feels good. When I’m feeling good, I’m in a better place to mentally process the things I need to get done. The list doesn’t seem as long or as hard as it did when I was sitting at my desk. Oh, and because I have an hour of walking to do, I can make some calls (productive) or listen to podcasts or YouTube (fun). Both are helpful.
My hope is that this story finds you happy and healthy. But if you’re not in a good place and feeling overwhelmed, I hope you’ll consider taking a 30 minute walk to see if it works for you like it does for me. And if not that, then do something you love for 30 minutes that doesn’t take a lot of focus. Biking, running, listening to music, whatever.
And there are going to be a few people reading this that know I’m talking about them in this story. The ones that have recently shared their stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Please know that I’m rooting for you.
And for those of you reading that I don’t know personally, I’m rooting for you too.