Overwhelmed Much? Do This!

overwhelmedmuchdothisWho isn’t overwhelmed these days? Read the e-mails, respond to e-mails, make the phone calls, survive the commute, maintain your relationships with your spouse and children, and in your spare time… mow the lawn.

I just believe it is hard to not be overwhelmed these days. Not only do we face hectic schedules and the constant demand to continually do more with less, we are also living in an age where we are inundated and swamped with information, mostly in the form of the news, which is rarely if ever inspiring and uplifting.

This overwhelm leads to a lot of bad habits just in order to cope such as coming home and just sitting sedentary, eating junk food and watching brainless television in an attempt to shut things down in our minds. That’s the best case scenario, the worst cases often involve the abuse of alcohol, drugs, both prescription and non-prescription just in order to deal. How many Americans now have to resort to sleeping-aids in an attempt to shut our brains down just in order to get a few hours of sleep?

Being overwhelmed wrecks the body. When you are overwhelmed the body is constantly flooding itself with adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones just to survive. If it goes on too long you can be faced with adrenal burnout, or frying your endocrine system, both which can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome and burnout. And remember, recovering from burnout is never linear… if it took you six months to burn out, it could take 12-18 months to recover. Constantly being overwhelmed is that damaging.

I think I have done a good job painting the picture of how overwhelm takes over our lives and affects us. But I am here to tell you, there are ways to deal with it and here they are:

First, make a conscious decision to do less. Choose what is important to get done and leave the trivial busywork in you life behind you. This lesson I learned many years ago when I was a manager for a large telecommunications company. Every week or two a HOT new initiative from the executive level would trickle down to the managers and the engineers. It would typically be in the form of some data collection and collation requiring hours of manipulating spreadsheets.

Eventually I got smart about it all. Not lazy, just smart, as I realized that many times after the initiative was kicked off, another one would soon take its place. So do you know what I did? I stopped reacting (and responding) to these edicts and let them sit. Sooner rather than later it became quite clear as to what was important to get done and send back up the chain and what wasn’t because what wasn’t, was never asked for again past the first time.

It was a conscious decision to do less that not only helped me manage my day to day levels of fatigue and overwhelm, but took a lot of stress off of my teams at the same time.

That is it… if you are overwhelmed… do less. Don’t wait until you have something like a serious health scare (probably as a result of being overwhelmed) to get your attention and give you clarity on what is important and not in life.

If you are finding yourself to be overwhelmed I implore you to take some time and work out what is important in your life and what you can do without. Figure out how to simplify and lighten your life while at the same time making yourself more effective and impactful when it comes to the things that are worthy of your time.

This saying has been around forever, but the first time I heard it was when I was visiting a friend in Montana on a fishing trip in 1995. He told me “Nobody on their deathbed wishes they spent more time in the office.” And that is true… your friends, your family, your children, all of your loved ones, will never remember the hours that you put in working. What they will remember is the quality time that you chose to spend and devoted to them in the pursuit of making memories rather than widgets.  Just think about that if nothing else if you are feeling overwhelmed today.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

If you enjoyed this article or if it helped you, please consider sharing it!


  1. Chris Smith says:

    Thanks Andrew!

Speak Your Mind