Michele Morelli is a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (LLPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. She recently joined our staff following completion of her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health from Sienna Heights University.
If you feel overwhelmed, please know that you are not alone. Here are some tips to help you feel less bogged down, and to assist you in navigating the daily chaos:
Do nothing. If you struggle with these two words, it is quite possible that you may need to assess your day, and recognize that you lean toward perfection and being busy—which can be exhausting. Giving yourself permission to do nothing helps open the mind to what is important. Insight: Schedule more quiet time and learn new skills such as meditation (many free tools are on YouTube!)
Define the one main thing you need to accomplish for the day. Insight: Doing less actually accomplishes more in the long term.
Launch new rituals.. Modify your routine. Drive new roads, try new stores, hug more! Insight: New rituals are healthy and help rewire your brain.
Find reasons to laugh. Laughter can improve your health and your resistance to disease. Hint: Laughing increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies and decreases stress hormones.
Start a new activity. Example: Join a group at meetup.com or join a class. Insight: Creativity and movement rewires the brain.
Put down that phone.Many of us are outsourcing everything to our phone which experts believe may cause “digital dementia.” If we don’t use it, we lose it. Do not touch your mobile device for the first and last hour of the day. Many of us give away our power first thing in the morning by checking our devices – a dopamine fix that is rewiring our brain. Dopamine tells the brain what to pay attention to for survival. It changes the brain, commanding it to “do it again,” which explains why many people appear to be overly attached to their devices. Insight: Create new habits without your device.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Constantly focusing on how we view ourselves in comparison to others (whether it is in appearance, socially, or professionally) can cause situational depression. Insight: Read about—or even seek out—those who inspire you to action.
Decide to choose healthier thoughts. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day—that’s a lot of power to control our happiness and life. Insight: There are 86,400 seconds in a day! Assume ¾ of this is spent thinking and ¼ is spent sleeping.
Identify what gives you peace. Bestselling author Norman Vincent Peale, who has helped millions achieve success and happiness, says, “A peaceful mind generates power.” Insight: Remove things and people who don’t give you peace.
Minimize insignificant decision-making. Mental fatigue sets in when we have to make too many decisions on a daily basis. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, actually wears almost the same thing every day by design to avoid having to make trivial decisions about clothing. Insight: Simplify your wardrobe!
Edit that ‘to do’ list. If you love ‘to do’ lists, try replacing the daily list with a list for the week or month. Insight: We routinely overestimate what we can accomplish in a single day.
Beware of prolonged stress. Feeling overwhelmed over a long time span is stressful. Stress can create illness. Insight: If you are concerned about your stress levels, see a doctor or start a journal to track how you are feeling.
Expect the best. Insight: Many of us are wired to anticipate the worst.
Help others get what they want. Getting outside of your own head and your own needs can be a welcome break to your feelings of being overloaded. Insight: You’ll get more of what you want.
Reassess what you consume. A friend recommended Green Smoothies; I now enjoy them every morning and occasionally I drink them all day. I feel much better and I have a lot more energy. Simple changes can greatly impact your mood throughout the day. Insight: Include broccoli in a smoothie every day – it’s a super food shown to prevent cancer and reduce inflammation.
Find an exercise program that motivates you to participate. I decided to try a nationwide franchise called Fit Camp. It was perfect for me as I was done after 20 minutes of cardio and never bored with all the new routines. In less than a month, I felt much better and am still attending the class about four times per week. Insight: Get moving and don’t stop until you find a program you enjoy alone or better yet—with a friend.
Evaluate your space. Sometimes our physical environment creates stress for us. Survey your home on a regular basis (perhaps, monthly or quarterly), and consider the things in your home or office from a new perspective. Generally, you should only have things around you that energize Insight: Remember: if you no longer enjoy something, it’s time to send it out the door for someone else to enjoy.
Change is hard! If you feel overwhelmed with this list, choose just one or two items to start with that will have the biggest impact on how you feel. Insight:If you are still feeling overwhelmed, consider calling a professional counselor or friend for support.
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