5 Strategies for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

It was an unusually busy Monday. Normally it would take the students and staff at least a day to begin getting worked up, but today was different. For some reason, many were just in a sour mood.

Maybe everyone was still getting used to the rhythm of the year. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Maybe I misread intentions. Whatever it was, I had had enough.

via Tatiana Biancucci on Flickr Creative Commons

via Tatiana Biancucci on Flickr Creative Commons

Small annoyances had eaten away at my patience all day. I’m normally really good about hiding my emotions, putting a smile on my face, and not letting things bother me. But today was different.

Around an hour before dismissal, one of my best teachers walked in to express a concern about something. Normally, I would have been all ears to what she had to say. But I had dealt with petty grumblings, putting out small fires, and general discontent all day from various people. I didn’t expect it from her.

That’s when I did it. I didn’t yell or even raise my voice. But my answer to her was swift, sharp, and oozing with a “don’t push it with me” kind of tone. She dismissed herself and headed back to the classroom.

I later made sure to apologize and let her know that my tone wasn’t directed at her. I even tried to make up for it by going above and beyond to help her with her concern. But the damage had been done. It took her a couple of days for her to start acting normally around me again. Things are fine now, but I learned a valuable lesson that day…

When you don’t take care of yourself emotionally, you only end up hurting the innocent.

It might be your children who catch your wrath. Maybe it’s a coworker or client. Most times it will be your spouse. Regardless, the ones who you’re most frustrated with rarely get the brunt of your anger.

So what can you do to help decompress? Here are a few ideas:

1. Journal. This is something that I’ve recently started doing again. I don’t make it legalistic where I have to do it everyday. Obviously the last thing you need when you’re overwhelmed is another item for your to-do list. I just do it when I feel like I need to clarify my thoughts or work through some emotions.

I use a computer app called “Day One”, since I can type much faster than I can write. But a simple paper journal may work best for you. The important thing is to be honest and authentic. No one else is going to read this, unless you let them. So be as honest with yourself as possible.

2. Quit reacting and take time think. You may be like me, surrounded by people all day at work. My ride home currently consists of three little ones in the car with me. As soon as I get home, it’s about helping my wife with the evening routines. “Alone time” can often seem like a fantasy.

But I’ve gotten creative over time with solo trips to Denny’s, sitting on the porch after everyone’s in bed, and getting up early while the rest of the house is sleeping. The key is to get alone where you can get some perspective. If you’re not careful, the urgent will always take priority over the important. Taking time to think (every day) is always time well spent.

3. Exercise.  You knew it had to be in here. Maybe I’ll write another post on this sometime, but in the meantime, find something that makes you strain and sweat. Make it something you enjoy. Don’t overdo it, just let off some steam. It has so many benefits!

4. Get counseling from someone you trust. There is typically a stigma for grown adults who get counseling. But those stigmas are without merit. We all need someone to talk to once in a while. It might be a licensed counselor, your pastor, or a great friend. Whoever it is, make sure it’s someone that when they give advice, you’re inclined to follow it. You need to respect them to that kind of level.

5. Get some sleep. That may be totally obvious to some, but odds are that when you’re overwhelmed, you’re not getting enough hours of sleep and you’re definitely not getting enough quality sleep. Sometimes a little rest is all you need to reboot your mind and emotions.

QUESTION: So what would you add to this list? What are some things that you do when you feel overwhelmed? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below.

 

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