How To Kick Overwhelm To The Curb & Eliminate Stress

I think I can help. Even just a little bit…

You know when you meet up with mates or work acquaintances and the introductory topic of conversation is ranting about just how damn BUSY you are? You’ve been there? It’s almost like a competitive sport, isn’t it? The bottom line is that we’re all overworked and most probably overwhelmed too. We’ve all got a load on our plate; whether you’re a mum of two who is trying to juggle nursery schedules with school admission forms, or an Account Executive or needed to fulfil a client-set deadline, like, two days ago. The tasks on our plates are spilling down the sides and I feel ya. On my current plate there’s travel, deadlines galore and a meaty project that I’m working on under the cover of darkness currently just to fit it in, along with trying to pin down a dentist appointment because I haven’t been able to eat food on the left side of my mouth for six months – OOPS. I’m possibly the busiest I’ve ever been, but surprisingly I’m feeling really ok with it. Since the beginning of the year I’ve actively tried to dial down the overwhelm that I’d usually associate with this kind of hefty to-do list and I think it’s working.

Of course these tips aren’t going to be applicable or realistic for everyone, but just incase one might click into place for you, I thought I’d share how I’m currently kicking stress in the balls…

Making more hours in the day. You lot know that I’m a morning person and by 2pm you’ll probably find me watching Cardi B interviews and trying to fight off a nap. My mornings are WAY more productive than my afternoons So whilst my output needs to be a little higher than usual to work my way through my to-do list pile, I’m leaning into my perky AM tendencies even more. For example, this morning I set my alarm for 6am, got straight out of bed and ticked one task off my list, before having some breakfast and then writing this post, all before 9am hits on the clock. I’ll still aim to work until 6pm, therefore opening up a new window of hours during my day. Personally I love these early morning stints. My office feels cosy, my inbox doesn’t ping and I’m able to set myself up for the day ahead with minimal interruptions. Now I don’t plan on, or advocate continuing this way for the foreseeable future, but all whilst it’s working for me, I’m getting s**t done, feeling good about it and I’m not falling asleep on my keyboard, it’s a wake-up time that I’ll keep to. Plus, it’s helping to ward off stress thanks to these extra couple of hours that I’ve carved out. It’s a win/win for me right now.

Taking time away. With these extra work hours in the day, it’s important to know when to turn off too. So that’s why I’d suggest booking in a short break, a weekend away or a staycation, so you have some time pencilled in to really recharge your batteries. We spent last week in the Lake District with my family, doing walks, getting lost and having to spend £140 on taxis to get back to our cars (LOLZ, true story) and I found that time to be a real stress melter, like I always do. I try my best to get ahead so that I can take these times away as true switch-off moments, however when my levels of overwhelm have the potential for tipping over the edge I’ve realised that it’s better for me not to have a mad rush to get everything done before we leave. Instead of pushing myself too far in the days leading up to a holiday, I just accepted that pecking away at my to-do list just a little whilst I was away was a completely ok thing if I approached it in the right way. Instead of being glued to my phone and laptop I found myself getting up an hour before everyone else to reply to emails, comments and get just one task done each morning. Then for the rest of the day I just took in the views, ate and played UNO. It’s a compromise and not an ideal situation, but overall it was the right thing to do on this particular trip and I actually felt more relaxed because those morning productivity pockets of time stopped overwhelm creeping in.

Actually getting it done. This is a point that Mark and I find ourselves discussing often. When we’re feeling stressed and like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, procrastination becomes our best mate. It settles in, passes us a spoon for the Ben & Jerry’s and flicks on Netflix. How unhelpful is that, eh? Often the fastest and easiest way to ease off feelings of stress is just to actually get something done. ANYTHING. How much better will you feel at the end of the day if you’ve ticked off two major tasks off your list. Heck, even three! FOUR! You’ll snuggle down into bed later with the scales tipping in favour of contentment, rather than overwhelm. When I don’t know where to start, I pick off some of the easier tasks first that will take up just 20 minutes of my time, just to find my flow. Then once my momentum has picked up, I’ll go for one of the meatier ones that I’m sort of dreading, and nine times out of ten completing it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There you go, that wasn’t awful, eh? Combined with some extra hours in the day and a planned break from your duties at some point in the future, stress ain’t got a chance…

Photos by Lauren Shipley

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