When you're overwhelmed, what's your first response?
For many of us, the knee-jerk reaction is to increase our efforts immediately … because we want to do something about that feeling. But working faster or harder or longer simply is not the optimal reaction to feeling overwhelmed.
In fact, ramping it up often makes things worse – AND leaves us exhausted and depleted.
So, what's a better course when you're overwhelmed by your to-do list or by a sudden change that puts your work over the top?
Overwhelmed? First, You Have to See It!
Taking time to regain your perspective when you're stressed is vital, but quite often, we do not even know when we are at or near our breaking point. So, step number one is tuning into yourself and learning to recognize the signs of overwhelm.
For each of us, it's going to be different; But I'm going to guess that working harder is a predictable reaction, as is heightened anxiety. You may feel that your fuse gets shorter, too.
And, the more overwhelmed you feel, the LESS efficient and effective you are going to be. This, in turn, just increases your overwhelm. So, it's a downward spiral.
Overwhelmed? Try Stepping Away …
So, once you realize you are overwhelmed (and you'll get better and better at this the more you tune in), your next step is to take care of YOU!
Give yourself some time and space to regain your feet and your perspective. You want to respond , not react to whatever is happening. Simply put, when you respond to a situation, you are retaining your power; When you react you give it away.
And this applies to that feeling of being overwhelmed!
Overwhelmed? How Much Time Do You Need?
How long you need to step away is going to very, based on your unique personality, your situation, and your level of stress.
The key point is that it's important to recognize what you need – AND that it's variable. Small challenges require smaller amounts of time to reboot, while major stress requires more. Tailoring the time you take saves you time and assures that you give yourself what you need.