Overwhelmed? It happens to the best of us at times. Some people live in a constant state of overwhelm. Knowing yourself, being aware of your abilities, and creating an environment that nurtures your success can help to alleviate or minimize overwhelm. You also must learn to stand up for yourself and create good boundaries with your time and your workload. This can be quite difficult for people who enjoy pleasing others, who seek reassurance and approval from others, or who have an inner barometer that just doesn’t know when to say “no.”

Overwhelm means you need to simplify. It means you need to cut back, slow down, eliminate, and outsource. “Simplify” means you need to do less.

Slowing down and attempting to do less will cause you to question your current behavior practices. Why do you have so much to do? What is the resistance you feel to slowing down and doing less? Do you thrive on deadlines and juggling priorities? How does it feel when you are between projects: Can you enjoy the space or do you tend to feel a little anxious or bored?

“I sleep very little. I’m always pressured and stressed. I feel a constant need to push myself to do more – be more. And then I take two weeks vacation with my family in the summer. It usually takes me the first week to simply calm down and relax; the second week is when I actually get to enjoy myself. I know I’m doing this to myself. I just don’t know any other way to live.”

This constant state of “up” is a cause for concern. You could be an adrenaline junkie. This is a person who craves the ‘high’ from living on adrenaline, the body’s natural “upper.” Anytime you feel yourself slowing down, you do something to get yourself “up” such as add more work to your plate, make a deadline, procrastinate, use guilt or fear, create problems or chaos – anything that will give you the internal stress to produce the ‘fight or flight’ response in your body. (Some people gamble, use drugs or participate in other high risk or illegal activities.) Then, like the client above, it takes time to calm down - if you even give yourself permission to do so. Many people won’t take vacations because of the uncomfortable feeling of not being busy. This way of operating has tremendous health ramifications.

You don’t have to live in a constant state of overwhelm. You can learn to live with a much different pace and avoid overwhelm completely but you must be patient with yourself. It will take time to adjust. Eliminating the overwhelm in the short term is relatively easy; becoming someone who refuses to live in overwhelm at all takes a new set of rules to live by. Start small and remember to take one day at a time. Here are five steps to get you started. You can follow my blog www.NurturingYourSuccessBlog.com for more coaching strategies for eliminating overwhelm.

1) Check what’s on your plate - your obligations and responsibilities. Are you agreeing to do things that should be someone else’s responsibility? Are you taking on other people’s problems and workload? A good way to check is if everyone else leaves work at 5pm while you’re still trying to finish the day’s work. If this is the case, you’ll feel resentful. Identify the cause so you can learn what you need to do to differently. Here are some possibilities:

? You think helping other people solve their own problems means you have to solve it yourself.
? You don’t know how to delegate effectively.
? You are a dumping ground and have not yet learned how to say “No!”
? You do “busy work” rather than focusing on your area of expertise. Afraid of success perhaps?
? You love drama. By taking on more and more work, you make yourself crazed, increase your feelings of overwhelm and have more reasons to complain.

2) Are you a perfectionist? Perfectionism is a hard motivator. Trying to do things to a level of perfection can cause procrastination for fear of not being perfect which can lead to missed deadlines. Inside a battle rages where you beat yourself up for what you haven’t done and for not being perfect. In addition, the perfectionist may have difficulty accepting compliments causing an internal struggle between striving for perfection and not allowing yourself to be good. Putting too much pressure on you to perform to an unrealistic standard is a huge source of unhappiness. It can also lead to sleepless nights which diminish your ability to perform and create and be at your best. What’s the answer? Let go of perfection as an unrealistic standard and focus instead on excellence, on being your best, and learn to accept yourself and the quality of your work. Look for the good in all you do and practice forgiveness of YOU. You probably would not say the things you say to yourself to anyone else so start treating yourself like you would your best friend. In other words, “Do Unto Yourself as You Do Unto Others.”

3) You have a need for approval and try to impress others with your abilities. When you feel less than, when you have a lot of self-doubt, you will seek to find value outside yourself – in others, in your work, in your ideas, relationships, clothing, etc. Impressing others and seeking appreciation and recognition, may have you take on more work to prove your worth. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work, you will still feel undervalued and overworked. You cannot get enough of what you need in this manner because what you need is to feel valued and worthwhile. And the only way to feel good about YOU is to give that to yourself.

4) Do you know what your priorities are? Are you clear about what you need to get done and why? When you are not clear about the expectations for your position, you question how to be productive and struggle with how to spend your time. You are also more likely to agree to do things which may not be part of your job description. Spend some time with your manager to review their expectations for your results. This will help you to stay focused on your area of responsibility.

5) If you are clear about what’s expected of you but feel overwhelmed, then perhaps the problem is YOUR OWN expectations for your performance. Repeatedly telling yourself you “have to do, should do, must do” creates unnecessary stress and anxiety. “Shoulding” yourself all day long and constantly thinking about what else you need to do, means you are not having fun, you are giving yourself a hard time, it’s draining your energy, and you may be wasting a lot of time complaining. If you expect of yourself beyond what a normal person can actually accomplish, you can feel overwhelmed and you could be judging yourself harshly for what is not done. Unrealistic expectations are an internal problem, meaning they exist only in your mind. You create these for yourself and burn out, beating yourself up when you cannot live up to the ideals that you fantasize in your own mind. In addition, they distract you from simply doing what needs to be done. All the time and energy spent thinking about what you need to do, distracts you from actually doing it! Get your thoughts under control and learn to focus your attention on the task at hand.

Staying away from overwhelm will require you to become much more attentive to yourself and your emotional state. Your emotions will provide you with insight when you start to fall back into old patterns. When you sense yourself becoming overwhelmed, you can pull back, check yourself and make different choices. But you have to be aware.

As a recovered adrenaline junkie myself, I can assure you firsthand that it is possible to learn to live differently. I can also tell you that it will take time. But better to be proactive and start now than wait for a health problem – heart attack, stroke, anxiety attack, or depression – to force you into it. Once you learn a new pace to live by, you will experience greater peace, happiness and joy than you realized was possible. You cannot experience joy when you’re traveling at the speed of busy. Follow my blog at www.NurturingYourSuccessBlog.com for more coaching on eliminating overwhelm.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN, CSAC is dedicated to helping you break through the barriers to your happiness and success. She is a masterful coach, a motivational speaker and world-renowned writer and author. For additional resources and to sign up for her inspiring e-newsletter, visit www.NurturingYourSuccess.com or email Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com.