Good morning my Wild Ones!
There’s this story that describes a man who was told that he had to eat a whole elephant to win a huge prize. The man looked up at the elephant’s giant stature in distress. How was one man supposed to eat AN ENTIRE ELEPHANT? But he had to, so first he cut off a tail. Then he went to an ear, then the nose. He continued eating the elephant piece-by-piece until it was all gone. Looking back at the carnage, although it looked like he ate a whole elephant, it did not feel like he ate a whole elephant. No this is not a story promoting animal cruelty. This is a story about how to take the huge tasks you must do, your mountains, and break them down into small doable tasks as to avoid overwhelm.
A mountain is impossible to climb until you learn to go one rock at a time.
The 2 Biggest Problems Overwhelm Brings
- Not getting anything done
I’m a person who is very susceptible to overwhelm. Because I know that, I have to be very intentional about it. Yesterday, I was not at all intentional about handling my overwhelm and I ended up getting very little done. ‘Like….I don’t want to be writing my blog post the morning I’m posting it, but I have so much to do outside of that and don’t know where to start.’ Then, instead of tackling the laundry list of things I need to do, I do nothing.
How often does it happen that when we have the most to do, we do the least? That right there is overwhelm buddy, and it sucks. But know that you’re not alone. Naturally, when most people see huge tasks, thoughts of impossibility and the fear of failure (and even sometimes success) begin circulating. This creates anxiety, and that anxiety can be crippling. So we tackle overwhelm by attacking the various facets that lead to you in your bed watching YouTube videos when you have 3 papers to write for tomorrow.
5 Ways to Overcome Overwhelm
1. Eat the Elephant
This tackles the thoughts of impossibility. Take your huge task and break it down into daily or even hourly goals. If you’re in the hardest class of your life, a goal of passing the class can be quite overwhelming. Break it down to just needing to pass this test. Then, break it down further to learning this weeks material well. You can even break it down to simply conquering a particular lecture.
What do you have to do to conquer this lecture? Maybe you have to go to class, then read the text book, or make flashcards. Whatever your method, having a goal of reading a chapter in the textbook is much less overwhelming than passing a class. Maybe reading a chapter is too big, but you can do it section by section. Break down your big goals until they are as doable as you need!
2. Count to 3 and get up
This tackles the crippling anxiety. As a human, your overwhelm will at times be out of control. You will sometimes be three bags of popcorn deep into Will & Grace reruns, but alas, all hope is not loss. You still have control over you, no matter how out of control your life can feel. Something that I’ve found super helpful though ridiculously simple is to count to three and then just do what you need to do. You remember back when your parents use to say ‘Girl, don’t let me get down to one with out you…’?
Now most of us reading this don’t have a parent counting down at us anymore, but be your own parent. Be your own accountability. Tell yourself ‘Girl, don’t let me get down to one with out you…’. It seems so simple that it almost feels dumb, but I promise this has gotten me back on track more times than I’d like to admit.
3. Take a break and experience your senses
This is something I learned from the video below and I have used it ever since! It tackles the anxiety before it becomes crippling. The first time I tried it, I felt quite crazy, but it definitely works for me. Focusing on experiencing your senses gives you a break from all the thoughts of stress in your head and re-centers you. She also talks about other methods of dealing with overwhelm, so you guys should definitely watch the whole video!
4. Write a to-do list
I love to-do lists! This tackles the issue of seeing a huge task. When I have something huge and overwhelming to do, I actually plan out how I will eat the elephant. So I literally only see the small tasks, and experience the reward of finishing those smaller tasks rather than feeling unaccomplished until I finish the huge overwhelming task! I believe it was Eric Thomas that said, ‘Greatness is a bunch of little things done well’.
5. Affirm yourself
This attacks any negativity roaming in your mind including your fear of failure or success. Y’all I’m literally my own walking motivational speaker. Whenever I feel even the smallest amount of negativity rolling in, I immediately begin reminding myself of the truth.
'You are more than a conqueror'. 'Everyone wants to be a beast until it's time to do what beasts do'. 'So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then improbable, then when we summon our will, they soon become inevitable'. 'I am Black Gold'.
Your situation cannot change who you know you are unless you momentarily forget. Don’t forget! You are amazing! You are beautiful! Fam, you were created for greatness! You are gifted! You are loved!
Check out my favorite motivational speaker, Eric Thomas, who gives me at least half the quotes I have cheering me on!
Love you guys!