31/07/2015 13:36 BST | Updated 31/07/2016 06:59 BST

Overwhelmed? Four Ways to Calm Down and Simplify

Are you over scheduling and overloading your to-do list? Keep over scheduling and overloading, and you'll end up feeling overwhelmed. When overwhelm happens, it distorts our reasoning and response-ability. It also clouds the mind from clear thinking and, as a result, not much gets done, even though we may have lots to do.


Copyright: Inner Space

Whilst overwhelm happens to the best of us, we don't have to live in a state of overwhelm. Stop for a few seconds or minutes and give yourself some breathing space. Calm down and clear your mind. Here are four quick and easy ways to do this.

  1. Breathe. Breathe in through your nose for a count of three and then out through your mouth for a count of five. Pause and repeat three times. Breathe slowly and deeply, and this will trigger relaxation.
  2. Be Mindful. Grab a glass of water or do some simple stretches. As you drink or stretch, pay attention to what you are doing. If your attention begins to wander, just bring it back to what you are doing.
  3. Find Your Humour. Now, life is no laughing matter but life does have a sense of humour. Find the humour and have a good laugh, but only when appropriate, of course!
  4. Relax Body And Mind. As both the body and mind are deeply connected, most often, you'll find that as you relax one, the other follows. Sit comfortably and then begin to relax your legs and hips, stomach and chest. Loosen your arms and hands. Relax your back and shoulders, neck and all the facial muscles. Relax your body and your mind will follow.

Once you've cleared your mind, keep calm and put things into perspective. Simply simplify your schedule and to-do list, then shift from 'I'm overwhelmed' to 'I have these things to do.' Here are the 4 D's to make life more manageable.

  1. Drop. If things don't need to be done, delete it from the list. Drop what's no longer useful or relevant. If you have the habit of taking on more than you can handle, consider saying that two-letter word, 'No'. Get clear on your priorities and your limitations, and what you want to say 'yes' to.
  2. Delegate. Try to do everything yourself and you'll always be busy doing everything! Decide what to do yourself and what to delegate. Delegate effectively and not just the stuff you don't want to do.
  3. Defer.If things don't need to be done today, postpone and reschedule. When you're rescheduling, avoid leaving things to the last minute or too close to the deadline, otherwise you're postponing the stress. Give yourself enough time to get things done.
  4. Do. If it really needs to be done today, just do it. Just try not to cram too much into one day. You may want to schedule one big task for the day, three medium tasks and five small tasks. Be realistic and take the pressure off. Now, get started and stay focused on what you need to do.

Whenever and wherever possible, finish the task. Finishing tasks replaces 'overwhelm' with the joy of accomplishment.

The A-Z Challenge: O is for Overwhelm. Shift negative habits, alphabetically.