What does it mean exactly to be overwhelmed? The general meaning centers around thoughts or feelings that have overpowered you.  Sometimes these feelings come on quick and all at once. But often when it comes to being overwhelmed they build up over a length of time.
Being overwhelmed is not something to be proud of. It can lead to burnout, stress, and in some cases, panic attacks. Why then do we wear overwhelm as a badge of honor? Is it because society pressures us to always be hustling even when we’re exhausted?
We here at Dexterous Organizing believe in the power of a positive and calm mindset. We've dealt with many overwhelmed clients. And we discovered there are a few myths the most overwhelmed people tend to believe. Until you learn to shift your mindset, you’re never going to defeat overwhelm. Thankfully, we have plenty of resources to share. Keep reading to find out what they are.
Myth #1 — Denying it means you’re stronger
If you deny that you're overwhelmed, it’s probably because you think people will look down on you if you admit to it. They’ll think you’re weak, that you can’t handle a lot on your plate. The truth is everyone gets overwhelmed at certain points in their lives. You’re not going to be overwhelmed at the same time as everyone else. Nor should you be. Can you imagine a world where everyone is overwhelmed together? No, thank you.
The fastest way to overcome this is by recognizing when you’re overwhelmed. Create a list of thoughts or feelings you might get when too many things start to burden you. This is your early warning sign that you’re overwhelmed. When you recognize your overwhelmed state, you can start to do something about it.
Never be afraid to ask for help. Chances are someone you know needs a hand and is too ashamed to admit it.
Myth #2 — Your energy levels can keep up with your demanding schedule
It’s been proven that certain weather, days of the week, your diet, or your exercise routine all affect your energy levels. If you’re introverted, people — especially large crowds — drain your energy. If you’re extroverted, your jam-packed social calendar will eventually drain you.
Take a look at your calendar. Think about all your scheduled events and how they will affect your energy levels. You need to become more restrictive about accepting invitations. Stop cramming so much into your schedule. Learn to say no.
While there’s nothing wrong with being social, being 100% present means showing up when you’re not at your best. And if you’re not well-rested your mood is affected and it can hinder the fun you would otherwise have. How you fill your calendar is paramount to your productivity. If you want to learn how to use your planner to the best of your advantage, check out our blog post about it here.
Myth #3 — Your habits and routines don’t need adjusting
Your diet, exercise, vitamin intake, amount of sleep, and the time you allow yourself to recharge are all related to productivity. You can enhance productivity by building habits and routines that support it. And the more simple and effective routines you have, the more opportunity you have for spontaneity.
Habits help you stay above the curve of your ever-growing to-do list. You find pockets of unplanned time that you can enjoy when your habits and routines allow you to get the most important tasks done first. By completing goals and tasks, you're keeping any overwhelming thoughts at bay.
Habits are the cornerstone of productivity. No matter how small, they lead to progress, completion, and celebration. In his bestselling book, The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson describes these small habits as the difference between successful people and non-successful people. He explains that “Simple productive actions, repeated consistently over time” are what make or break your success.
If you’re interested in learning more about positive habit building, check out our blog post about morning routines here.
Myth #4 — Ambition and passion will keep you going no matter what
Study after study shows that sleep is a necessity. But not everyone needs the recommended eight hours of sleep. Some need more and others need less. You might think you need less because your passion and drive will carry you even when you’re exhausted. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before ambition and passion aren’t enough to keep you from experiencing overwhelm.
There are times in life when you have to circumvent sleep for a short time. But habitually burning the candle at both ends has long-term effects on your mental, physical, and emotional health. Ambition and passion are wonderful mindsets to have. They alone can keep you progressing towards your goals. But they’re not immune to overwhelming thoughts.
Make time in your schedule to reset and recharge your batteries. Too much overwhelm and lack of sleep can actually crush your ambition and passion. So give yourself time to take a step back and celebrate how far you’ve come.
Myth #5 — You always need to be in control
We live in a world where a lot of things are out of our control. Being organized and productive is more about learning how to manage when you can control yourself and your environment. The need to be in constant control is often fear of something. And fear can be more paralyzing than productivity.
Learn to be flexible. Understand that while you can do it all, you can’t do it all at once. And maybe not all by you. Good is better than perfect. And when you delegate the outcome, you can focus on your priorities. “All’s well that ends well” the saying goes. And sometimes letting go of control can help you get to the end. If not faster, then at least happier.
Wearing your overwhelm like a badge of honor is not something to be proud of. Since overwhelm can lead to long-lasting effects on your mental, physical, and emotional health, you want to take action the moment you begin to feel it happening.
The nice thing about defeating overwhelm is that it doesn’t take much. Sometimes all you need to do is give yourself a few days. Ignore as many responsibilities as possible and reevaluate how you can better approach them.
Want to hear more about how to overcome overwhelm? Listen to Andrea on the Quit Bleeping Around podcast where she shares tips and understanding of where overwhelm comes from and how to defeat it.
How do you handle overwhelm? Do you know the signs of when it’s happening to you? Are there areas you can improve upon? Comment below.