Overcoming Overwhelm: A Real Time Personal Case Study

Xperience Growthblogposts

I know as you’re reading this you can relate. Whether you are in the midst of multiple deadlines now or you were recently.

It’s a curse of the high achiever. The more we grow, the more responsibility, the more internal & external pressures we face. Overwhelm is a common symptom.

Such was the case for me. Here’s my personal case study to overcome it.

As I write this, I have multiple deadlines looming. This article is one. I am finalizing my prep work for the upcoming Xperiential MBA New York Event. The webinar I’m hosting this coming week has final marketing due and presentation to finalize. The 2024 Xperiential MBA experience has deadlines. As all of these priorities are coming due, I have multiple meetings and coaching calls that I’m leading. It certainly feels like a lot all at once.

Couple those work-related pressures, with the ebb & flow of tension in our home getting the family up, ready for the school day, out the door… laughing and playing one moment, stalling another moment, tears and screams another.

It can feel like a lot and play mind tricks.

This is not a call for a pity-party, nor do I feel sorry for myself or seek sympathetic energy from readers. I love all the things on my list and it just so happens that there’s deadlines. So, I trust this accounting rings a bell from relatable experiences.

All these various deadlines, priorities – both the external deadlines & internal emotions pulling me – I experienced overwhelm.

Psychologists describe overwhelm as feeling you have too many things on your plate, you don’t see how you can get it all done and fearing that some bad will happen as a result. It can feel like general stress, anxiety and lead to burnout and avoidance of doing anything.

In other words, we have too many details sitting in front us and we bunch them all together in a dark cloud of uncertainty and fear. As we focus on the dark cloud, fear can cripple our ability to act or our spirit.

Yes, this very thing happened to me. Here’s what I did to overcome it.

First, a few of the strategies of stress reduction, which can help manage overwhelm, are conscious breathing, presence & moving our body. Just so happens yoga was on my to-do list this morning, which allows for all three of those strategies.

It was helpful, yet not all the way restorative. During the practice, my mind kept coming back to my to-do list of things. I even questioned my choice to practice yoga with the deadlines.

So yoga by itself for me was not the solution. It did help to calm my nervous system, yet it didn’t give me a sense of movement toward my priorities.

Getting home to a tension-filled house actually helped more than the yoga, oddly enough. That’s because I could get into action.

I took stock of the situation, saw my daughter having a high emotional morning and made the decision that focusing on her in that moment was the best move. Granted, I’m not sure that I was completely helpful, yet I felt confident that she was my top priority at that moment.

The overwhelm disappeared.

It stayed gone until I was getting back home from school drop-offs. The competing work-related deadlines raised their heads and I felt the overwhelm come back.

Here’s what finally worked for me.

I took stock of all of the important items on my list today. The activities I wanted and needed to accomplish. I then looked at my calendar to see what my windows of time were taken with meetings. Based on those windows, I figured out what my #1 priority was at that moment. Turns out, it was writing this article.

So I dove in. pulled my research together, developed my outline and began writing this story.

The overwhelm was gone because I got into action of the next best thing to hit my goals.

Once I made the determination and went full steam ahead on writing this, the action and momentum took away the overwhelm.

When I finish this, I’ll figure out which of the next tasks to accomplish and go all in on that, again removing any sense of overwhelm while I’m immersed in the next best activity.

The feeling of being overwhelmed is a stuck one. Get out of your head, get into meaningful action and the sense of overwhelm goes away.