o·ver·whelm [oh-ver-hwelm, -welm]
verb (used with object)
1. to overcome completely in mind or feeling: overwhelmed by remorse.
2. to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush: Roman troops were overwhelmed by barbarians.
3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge: Lava from erupting Vesuvius overwhelmed the city of Pompeii.
4. to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything: a child overwhelmed with presents; to overwhelm someone with questions.
Overwhelm’s definitions even seem overwhelming. “…superior forces; destroy; crush..”
When you’re in the throes of feeling overwhelmed, though, the definitions don’t quite seem to measure up. We’d look at the definitions and say, “Close. But not quite horrifying enough.”
As I’ve said before, I work from home. We run a web publishing business, meaning I oversee (writing, designing, tweaking, re-doing, testing, yadda yadda yadda) over 20 websites and blogs. Whenever I encounter people who think that there are two kinds of work-related stress:
- Those who work outside the home
- Those who never have a reason to feel stress
… I just think, “Lord bless them. How do they make it through the day?” While I don’t have the answer to that question, I do have the perfect solution for feeling overwhelmed. However, if you’re looking for magic or mojo, you’re sure to be disappointed. My answer is as simple as it is effective. In fact, it’s so simple, it’s comprised of just two words.
So, what is the two-worded antidote to feeling overwhelmed? Do Something.
That’s it. I came across the antidote one afternoon when I was not only ready to pull my hair out but that of each of my four cats. Since none of us could pull off bald very well (I just don’t have the head shape for it), I decided to move along to Plan B. As I sat at the kitchen table, staring into my bowl of tomato soup and wondering why God thought 24 hours was enough – the solution came to me.
I realized that sitting there, feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, was accomplishing less than zero. I was wasting time, not accomplishing anything, and annoying my cats. It occurred to me that the one SURE way to chase away the feeling of being overwhelmed is to get up and get after it.
One of my online friends (deep in the throes of feeling overwhelmed by work, family, weight loss efforts, and a house that refused to clean itself) once asked me, “Where would YOU start if you had a billion and two things to do.” I said, “I’d start with number one. Then I’d move to number three. Then four…” I was half-kidding, but a very real truth lies within the words: When you begin doing something, you’ll instantly lose the feeling of being overwhelmed. The feeling will be replaced by the feeling of being, first, busy, and then, tired.
But overwhelmed you’ll no longer be!
It holds true for whatever it is that has you backed into the corner, champ. Come out swinging and keep on swinging. Because staying backed into a corner’s only going to get you clobbered.
If you feel overwhelmed by housework —– it does pile up on you when you’re not looking, doesn’t it? —– jump in with a cleaning rag in one hand and a trash bag in the other. Make a plan to attack one room each day – a plan that’s perfectly doable. By the end of the week, your place will look so fantastic you’ll have people over for dinner just to show it off.
If your “to do” list has gotten out of control, separate it into chunks of three bite sized chores and take action.
The beauty about taking action is a body in action tends to stay in action. When that happens, work won’t have time to pile up on you!