It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re living through difficult times. I know some of you have found it tougher than others.
In this special guest blog post, Stress Management and Resilience Coach Sophie Morris is sharing her top tips for managing overwhelm in uncertain times:…
Work-life balance is a common phrase, and I think that we all know what it means in theory, but how many of us think that we have got life working for us? In addition to other pressures, a recent LinkedIn survey found that people are working an extra 28 hours per month while working from home – that’s practically an extra day per week.
So what can you do to deal with the feeling of overwhelm and allow yourself time and space to concentrate on what is important to you? Here are my top tips:
Firstly, just take a moment to collect your thoughts. Maybe a deep breath or two could be in order. Step away from the screen (all screens!) and press pause for a couple of minutes. You may also like to get a breath of fresh air or make a cup of tea. Simple moments of calm can help reset your brain and reduce stress levels.
Put boundaries in place
Secondly, having boundaries between work and home is really important. I understand that the edges can get blurred, but I would advise you to keep a clear line between when you are available to work and when you are not. Communicate this to your clients, boss and colleagues if you think that it is appropriate. Avoid the temptation to answer emails at all hours as not only is it putting pressure on you, but it also sets an expectation to others that this is the way that you work.
Leave the ‘office’ at the end of the day
For the many people working within new restrictions or working at home in a place that is meant to be, well home, and not an office: physically shut up shop for a day when you have finished work. This may mean putting your laptop away or closing the door on the room where you have been working. You will benefit from the change of gear. Do not be tempted to sneak back to ‘just’ have a look at something that you didn’t quite finish.
Identify what is and what isn’t in your control
It is entirely understandable to feel unsettled at the moment. Life is different to how it was this time last year. However, I would suggest making a list of things that are causing you stress to help you with this feeling of uncertainty. Next, split that list into two columns: things you can control and things that are out of your control.
For example: current government restrictions are not in your control, but how much time you spend listening to the news and checking social media is. The amount of work you have to do may not be in your control, but how you plan to get that work done is.
Once you have a list of things that are within your sphere of influence, this is where to concentrate your energy. Spending hours worrying about what you can’t change is not helpful and you will never get that time back, so I suggest identifying what will help make a positive change to your life and this is where to focus. You may find that by putting some limits in place you can help control your sense of uncertainty.
Check in with your stress levels each day
I recommend keeping a daily record of where you are on the stress scale from 0 – Calm to 10 – Overwhelmed. This way you can track where you are and be attuned to any sustained increase in your stress levels. If you notice that your stress levels are getting higher, this can be a sign that you need to make some changes, or reach out for help if it all feels like too much.
Be kind to yourself
You’re doing the best that you can in the situation that you find yourself in. Remember to acknowledge the things that you have achieved each day and don’t just dwell on what is still on your to-do-list.
If you find this difficult, ask yourself how would you advise a friend in the same position? We generally give others much better advice than we give ourselves. I find this one of the most powerful questions that I use with my clients and it can often lead to moments of deep clarity and self-awareness.
Commit to spending time each day doing something that brings you joy
And finally, think about something that you can do each day that makes you happy and ensures that you schedule time for it to happen. Maybe you like to relax with a long bath, have time outside or speak to a friend. Making these things a priority as well as work and family commitments will benefit your wellbeing and help to balance any sense of overwhelm. You are no good to anyone else if you can’t look after yourself, so remember that you are important too.
Sophie Morris is a Stress Management and Resilience Coach at Quietosophy. She helps her clients deal with stress and overwhelm and learn how to cut through the noise to be heard, without having to shout.
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