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Do this to stop drowning in stress: 5 Simple Mental Flips to Overcome Overwhelm

Sunlight spilled across her messy desk.

Papers, sticky notes, coffee mugs, you name it, Jane's desk had it.

A war-zone of chaos. Email notifications buzzed like pesky mosquitoes.

The clock ticked away, minutes morphing into hours. Jane was drowning.

Jane loved her job as a digital marketing manager. Yet, her dreams were falling apart.

Deadlines hung over her like guillotines, slicing through her sleep. Emails flooded her inbox faster than she could answer.

The rings of her phone echoed like an eternal alarm clock. There were meetings. Meetings about meetings. Then follow-up meetings.

And she was right there, at the center, a spider trapped in her own chaotic web.

One evening, as Jane sat at her desk... dinner untouched... her eyes staring at a screen of endless spreadsheets.

A crushing wave of exhaustion hit her.

She buried her face in her hands. Her vision blurred.

She was working... Always working, but was she really living?

Jane was the personification of overwhelmed, a balloon ready to pop.

There were health warnings, sure. Throbbing headaches, unsettling palpitations, sleepless nights, and an appetite that had taken a vacation.

But she told herself, "It's just stress. It will pass."

A few days later, during an important client presentation, Jane fumbled.

Her thoughts scattered like marbles on a glass floor, her words jumbled, and the critical data she needed vanished from her memory.

The client frowned, her boss sighed.

Jane felt her cheeks burn, a salty tear trickled down her face.

She rushed out of the room, a mix of embarrassment and frustration brewing within her.

Back at her desk, her chair spinning in slow motion, she knew this was it - the absolute rock-bottom. What was she doing? 

Overwhelm doesn't just steal your peace... It robs you of your ability to function and thrive.

Hopefully, you can see how denial can deepen damage...

Jane denied her overwhelmed state, thinking it was temporary. But denial only intensifies the problem and delays the remedy.

You can also see why perseverance deeds perspective... Jane persevered without perspective, thinking that simply working harder would solve everything. But blind perseverance can lead to exhaustion, not success.

And you can see why it is crucial to understand that stressful living is not synonymous to success... Jane associated success with stress. But this association is flawed - real success should come with satisfaction, not constant stress.

What this boils down to is that...

Overcoming Overwhelm is not about fighting harder against the tide but understanding when and how to float with it. 

This is contrary to the common belief that relentless effort and tolerating stress are necessary evils on the path to success.

Jane's story shows us that recognizing our limits, changing our perspectives, and redefining success are the real tools to a calmer, healthier life. 

Thus, overcoming overwhelm becomes an act of wisdom and self-awareness, not a test of endurance.

But I know all this aready... I hear you say. Why can't I still change?

The sad reality is that most people know this . What makes it so hard to adjust the lives to ensure they consistently feel less overwhelmed with life?

Indeed, it's one thing to know what to do, and it's entirely another to act upon that knowledge. The resistance typically stems from several deeply ingrained factors:

I would like to use the concept of changing from a meat lover to a vegetarian lifestyle to help explore the obstacles that makes it so hard to adopt a lifestyle that is less overwhelming.

1. Getting used to The Daily Burger

Just like a meat-lover might habitually reach for a burger during lunchtime, many of us have established patterns of handling stress and overwhelm.

We're used to multitasking, taking on excessive work, and operating under constant pressure.

These habitual patterns are hard to break, even when we know they're harmful.

What can you do about it?

Well, try gamification.

Convert your work or tasks into a game where you earn points or rewards for completing tasks on time and lose points for working overtime or skipping breaks.

This approach can make the process of change more fun and engaging, thereby increasing your motivation.

2. The instant experience of that Savory Satisfaction

Eating a meaty steak provides immediate satisfaction, just like finishing tasks or meeting tight deadlines gives an immediate sense of accomplishment.

This short-term gratification often overshadows the long-term detriment, making it hard to let go of such behaviors.

What can you do to overcome this?

Instead of the conventional productivity techniques, try using a method like "Inverted Productivity".

This involves setting the maximum hours you'll work in a day, not the minimum.

The goal is to finish your tasks within this timeframe.

This limitation can increase focus and efficiency while reducing the time available for stress to creep in.

3. Falling for The Barbecue Culture

In a society that praises busyness and equates stress with success, choosing to live differently can be daunting.

Much like a vegetarian might feel odd in a barbecue party, someone choosing calm might feel out of sync in a constantly busy environment.

If you feel odd, maybe because everyone at your work is working too hard, you can try...

Establishing a "Reverse Peer Pressure" strategy.

Be open about your commitment to less stress and more balance.

Your stand might inspire others to reflect on their own work practices.

This could create a supportive environment where everyone encourages each other to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

4. The strange Steak to Salad Fear

Just like a meat-lover might fear missing out on his favorite dishes when turning vegetarian, individuals often fear the unknown aspects of a calmer lifestyle.

They worry about being seen as lazy, unambitious, or incompetent.

This fear can deter them from making beneficial changes.

to prevent this...

Use an unconventional approach like "Stress Adventurism".

Try out different stress management techniques each month. This could range from horse therapy, kickboxing, to laughter therapy.

This variety keeps the process of change exciting and helps you discover what works best for you.

5. The Meat-lover's Identity Dilemma

Often, we derive our identity from our ability to handle stress and pressure.

It makes us feel valuable, needed.

Choosing a calmer lifestyle means letting go of this identity, which can be a scary prospect, just as a meat-lover might struggle with the shift in his culinary identity when becoming a vegetarian.

To counter this...

Consider using "Identity Diversification".

Explore and develop different aspects of your personality. This could be anything from learning a new language, picking up a new sport, to taking part in community service.

These activities not only give you a break from work, but they also help you build a more diverse self-image that isn't solely dependent on work.

Wrapping Up: Unraveling the Web of Overwhelm

Overwhelm is a sly adversary, silently weaving its web around us until we're too entangled to see a way out.

It presents itself as an inevitable consequence of our quest for success, a price we must pay to reach our goals.

But as we've explored, this narrative is far from the truth.

Our journey with Jane laid bare the impact of constant stress and overload: the health warnings, the diminishing productivity, the toll on personal satisfaction and quality of life.

It showed us that the  high standard of 'working harder'  to push through stress is an inadequate solution, often leading us further down the path of exhaustion.

In sum, overcoming overwhelm is about learning to ride the wave rather than attempting to control the tide.

It's about redefining success, asserting our boundaries, diversifying our identities, and challenging societal norms.

Most importantly, it's about the wisdom of understanding when and how to float with the tide - because in the journey of life, true success lies not in outpacing others, but in outlasting overwhelm.

Articles in this series

Effective ways to relieve stress
Do this to stop drowning in stress: 5 Simple Mental Flips to Overcome Overwhelm (This article)
How to reduce stress at work
79 misconceptions about stress
Is heavy work stress strangling you

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


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