Coach Carlene

Overwhelm is paralyzing. We can’t think logically or make decisions or take action. 

 I’m telling you, my friend, you want to fight this overwhelm. If you allow yourself to stay in the state of being overwhelmed by the amount of things that you have to do, that pressure and that uncertainty combined with this feeling that you can’t get anything done, is going to create anxiety in your life. It’s going to impact not only your wellbeing but, it’s also going to severely limit your ability to focus and get things done. 

The two most important things to understand about overwhelm is first, what it is, and second, a simple tool you can use to get rid of it. 

In order to do your best thinking, you need to make sure you’ve got the full capacity of your brain leveraged and pointed at the things that are important to you. 

Here’s the problem. When you go through life, as you go through life, what happens is your brain starts to fill up with information and that’s what creates a state of feeling overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed is nothing more than having a full brain. 

As you go through your day to day life and… 

start checking email and 

looking at texts and 

looking at Facebook and 

sitting in meetings and

going to class and 

flipping through television channels and 

sending emails and 

writing excel spreadsheets and 

running and picking up the kids and 

getting another text and 

looking at Instagram and 

looking at Twitter and 

checking out the news, 

…your brain gets pretty full doesn’t it? And now you feel overwhelmed because your brain is full of a bunch of garbage.

In order to fight overwhelm, you need to do a brain dump. You have to get rid of all that stuff so that you’ve got an empty brain so you can focus again. 

You are literally going to dump out everything that’s in your head onto a piece of paper; every concern, every worry, every to do, everything that’s bothering you that you’re thinking about, you’re going to write it down.

When you’re done writing down everything that’s in your head and there’s absolutely nothing left, pull out a highlighter. Take a look. You could do everything that’s on that list, you could. But what should you do? 

What are three things, just three, that you need to do in order to advance the things that matter to you most? Highlight these three things.

See all that garbage that is NOT highlighted? That is the garbage causing your overwhelm. It’s other people’s stuff. It’s the email stuff.  It’s the meeting stuff. It’s the stuff that’s not all that important. By dumping all that garbage out, you’ve gotten clear on the three most important things you need to do. You’ve got a clear head so you can get it done. 

It works. So, go do it and get back in action!

Grab your free guide:

The Habit of Self-Doubt:
Crush it and Build Real Confidence

You may be stressed out and overwhelmed. You probably have a looming deadline. You may be procrastinating.

I get it. A couple weeks ago, I had a proposal for a new business client to write. I was excited about getting a new business client, but not so excited about the actual writing of the proposal. And instead of writing that proposal, I became a passenger to my stress and my stress triggered me to take on something, anything else other than writing that proposal. 

I decided it would be a good time to clean out the fridge. You know, take everything out, throw out the expired food and deep clean the dang thing, taking all the shelves out. I had fridge stuff all over the kitchen. Because this is going to help me get that proposal done….NOT!!!

Here’s the thing. In life, there are passengers and there are drivers. And at any moment you can choose to be either a passenger or a driver. In that moment of choosing to clean the fridge over completing the proposal, I was a passenger to my stress.  

The key to being a driver in your life is recognizing when you get hijacked by old patterns. 

When you’re stressed, your uncertainty and your anxiety kicks into auto-pilot mode and you distract yourself and engage in patterns of behavior like avoiding what you need to do.

The interesting thing about procrastination is procrastination is a form of stress relief.

If you’re stressed out about a work project, one way to avoid having to deal with what stresses you out is to procrastinate and find something else to do. You find something that lets your brain take a break from the thing that’s hard, the work project. You choose to give your brain a break and relax by doing something like cleaning out your entire fridge. 

What do you do when you realize you’ve become a passenger to your stress? How do you get back in the driver’s seat? 

  1. Recognize what you’re doing and NOT doing.
  2. Don’t make yourself wrong.
    You are human. You’re going to go back and forth between being a passenger and a driver all the time. You really don’t have time to beat yourself up about this. And it doesn’t move you forward.
  3. Make a choice.
    You can continue to procrastinate. Choose it. Enjoy it.
    Or, you can interrupt the fact that you’re getting carried away by it and choose to get back to the thing you’re avoiding. The longer you avoid this, the more stressed out you’re going to feel.

The minute I chose to get back to writing that proposal, my stress lessened. It didn’t go away completely until I finished it. The point is, I redirected myself and I finished.  

The second you’ve realized that you’ve just been hijacked, you have a choice to make. Don’t be fooled by this “productive procrastination”. You are not being productive where it matters most. 

If you liked this, download your free guide: Mindset Reset Using the Emoji Technique

Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.

Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.

She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”

Can you relate?

After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.

Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.

When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.

Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.

And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.

Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.

After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.

Claire wants to do better.

I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.

She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”

I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.

Eating

  • Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
  • She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
  • She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.

Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)

  • Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
  • Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.

Sleep

  • Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
  • She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
  • She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.

This is the time to double down on our self-care.

In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.

If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.