Who else here gets overwhelmed at Christmas? If you would like to discover how to avoid overwhelm this Christmas then read on. I am going to give you seven easy steps to understand what it is, what causes overwhelm, how to avoid it AND how to deal with it if it happens. Using my proven FREEDOM method as the basis here’s how you can avoid overwhelm this Christmas:
1. Make friends with fear
Overwhelm is simply a fear response. A signal that you aren’t behaving in alignment with your core values and you need to take action to get back in balance. In order to avoid overwhelm you first need to understand it and make friends with it. Overwhelm is just trying to show you where you aren’t being the real you and this often happens at Christmas time when you are trying to please everyone else.
2. Recognise the signals
Before you get to overwhelm, recognise your warning signs. This will take a bit of practice but the goal is to see the signs before they get too big. Know your limits and recognise when you are loading yourself up too much. Feel the signs in your body, the tension, the lack of breathing, the long (and impossible to achieve) to do list. When you’ve got no wriggle room it means you are only one challenge away from overwhelm. If you start cancelling what’s important to you, overwhelm is not far away.
3. Evaluate what’s real
In the case of overwhelm everything feels important but in reality, it’s not. The stress feels very real and you can’t see the solutions or the reality. Before you get to that point learn to evaluate what’s really important to you, what can you let go of, what’s not in your control and what can you say no to? Is your mother really going to be disappointed if the silver ribbon doesn’t match the paper?
4. Enlist support
Take a moment to stop trying to be superwoman and give people the opportunity to step up and be there for you and with you. Who can help you with the list of challenges or tasks you have to do and who can you delegate to. Who else in your family might enjoy contributing this year or baking the pecan pie for you?
5. Devise a plan of action
Once you have recognised overwhelm is just around the corner, decided what’s really important and what’s not, and enlisted the support of others, the next step is to lay out a plan of action. Re-write the to do list with what’s really important and what’s being delegated and then take immediate action on the first item. Action moves you forward and stops fear in its tracks.
6. One deep breath
Sometimes (OK, usually) the action that needs to happen can be scary. This is where you might find you do the Fight, Flight or Freeze. Fight – you try and do more to compensate, Flight – you run away and avoid, or Freeze – you do nothing. All of these create a vicious circle that always ends in overwhelm. Instead, take a deep breath and like Mel Robbins says, in her book “The Five Second Rule”, knowing what to do isn’t enough, you have to take action so count down from five and then do it. Once you take that first step it gets easier after that as your courage gains momentum.
7. Make it a habit
This process will work regardless of whether you are heading towards overwhelm or in the depths of it. Initially it might feel a bit structured and you will have to put effort into doing the steps but as you practice it more and more it will become a habit for you and you’ll be able to recognise the signs sooner and be able to avoid getting to the point of overwhelm altogether.
Note: If you happen to find yourself in overwhelm this Christmas and you’d like support to step out of it, please feel free to book a one-off session with me here.