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Michael S. Broder, Ph.D. Headshot

Wave Goodbye to Overwhelm

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Are you too busy to read this blog? If your answer is "yes," read on anyway! The normal adult in our society is often responsible for maintaining a career, organizing household finances, managing household chores, caring for children and/or older parents, sustaining relationships -- with a significant other, family and friends -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg. And in case that's not enough, within each and every relationship, you may find yourself in various roles. Hopefully, these many roles (parent, sibling, breadwinner, lover, professional, coworker, friend, etc.) contribute to your life positively, but the demands of too many roles at once can trigger in you feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. You may love running your business, taking care of your children, organizing charity events, and playing in tennis tournaments, but when overwhelm sets in, it can sometimes be very hard to find pleasure in any of these things. How do you decide which roles are important to maintain, and which ones deserve more or less of your time and energy? The answer to questions such as which responsibilities in your life are ones to continue to nurture -- and which deserve less attention -- can only be answered by probing into your unique values.

Taking the time to look within pays off, because you may save the time and attention you now give to the parts of your life that are no longer rewarding for you or those around you. To reduce your feeling of being overwhelmed, resolve to make some important decisions. There are many different ways to work on identifying and reevaluating your values. I use the examples of meditating, journaling and visualization in my new book Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential as ways to connect with your most private, personal and unique resources.

Here is a simple exercise to help you look at the overwhelm in your life: Take a few minutes each day to write about how your life could be simpler, more enjoyable and less overwhelming. Think of as many examples as you can of times in your life when you were at your absolute peak. Think of times you felt strong, passionate, and able conquer anything in your path. These memories can range from times when you had great success in your job to moments where you felt profoundly fulfilled in a love-relationship, or anything in between. Try to list as many moments as you can when you felt utterly unstoppable.

Once you've developed a list of these experiences, select one that feels the most powerful to you. Close your eyes and begin to relive this experience in your mind. Connect to the memory with all of your senses. Notice the sounds, smells, and sights as you savor the moment. What feelings did you experience at the time? What were your facial expressions? Once you feel you are as present as possible in your memory, notice how you feel in this place of empowerment and peak performance. How deep or shallow is your breath? What emotions are you experiencing? Where in your body are you holding these positive feelings? Take time daily to practice entering this peak state by connecting with these sensations. With practice, it will be easier arrive to this place more quickly during times when you feel overwhelmed in your various roles.

Access your place of power when the juggling begins to feel out of hand. Tasks or roles that start to feel like just "going through the motions" can feel more meaningful or important when you are confronting them as your optimal and most present self. Performing your roles from this place can remind you how and why you had this role in the first place! And if it is still unclear why you are doing the things that feel overwhelming, you can then make the decision to no longer make these priorities, to delegate certain responsibilities to others or to simply reevaluate your overwhelming situation in your own unique way. It's easy to lose track of your priorities when the metaphorical hats you wear increase in number; but by practicing this exercise, you may feel more clarity about the roles that you choose to make a part of your life!

For more by Michael S. Broder, Ph.D., click here.

For more on stress, click here.