4 Steps to Cutting Through the Overwhelm All Year Long

Today, I want to talk about something different than copywriting. I want to talk to you about holiday overwhelm. I do what I do because it gives me the flexibility to be there for my family and do all the things.

But, I’ll be honest, cutting through the overwhelm this time of year is tough. There are so many things that we want to do, and even more that we are expected to do.

I grew up with a small nuclear family, far away from our other relations. As a result, our family traditions were individualized, and we weren’t worried about visiting every single family gathering around, because it was just us.

When my husband and I moved to Wisconsin, all of a sudden we were overwhelmed with all of the different get-togethers we were expected to attend. So last year, we said “we’ll do one from each side” and we stuck to it. It was so freeing and let us really enjoy a few gatherings rather than all of them.

What I’m saying is this: give yourself permission to not do every single thing. It’s okay to say, “no, I can’t do #allthethings,” and instead pick and choose the pieces that are most important to you and your family.

That may not be feasible, or there may be other reasons you’re facing overwhelm during the holidays. Let’s face it, you may face overwhelm other times of the year because of anything. Over the years, starting with the long scary deployments I experienced as a military spouse, I’ve developed a system for keeping my brain focused on what’s important.

4 Steps to Cut Through Overwhlem Any Time of Year

It really boils down to mindset, gratitude, and focus, and I’m sure there’s some psychology behind it. Here’s the thing though. I’m NOT a psychologist. I can tell you though that it works…just not why. Some people like to write these down, while others thrive that it’s more tangible.

First – Find one thing to look forward to today.

This can be something small. It can be a shower, a glass of wine, sitting in silence after the kids go to bed, or snuggling your dog or cat. Then I focus all my negative energy on how excited I am for that one thing. It gives me something positive to focus on, and it effectively transforms the stress and the worry toward enthusiasm.

Second – Find one thing to look forward to tomorrow.

Once again, pick something small. If you have something big to look forward to, focus on that, by all means. But it doesn’t have to be. Guess what? The little things matter. If we feel really good about the little things, then we’re going to be able to handle the big, ugly, overwhelming stuff more easily.

Third – Find something to look forward to next week.

This one thing can be something a little bigger, or something that’s not part of your every day. Maybe this is a dinner with friends, a call with someone you love, or a hike or run you’re excited about.

Fourth – Find something to look forward to in the more distant future.

This thing should be bigger, a bigger-ticket goal that transcends the little things. It should be something with a specific timeframe in mind, usually a month or so down the road. This gives you a longer perspective, and it’s really powerful. I think it’s important to have that next big thing always on the horizon to give you long-term goals and focus. Maybe it’s a concert, your first (or next) half marathon, or a trip that has you twitchy with anticipation.

Whatever it is, when you have something each day and each week that you can focus on, this big goal doesn’t seem so remote or distant. Instead, it seems attainable, and it’s only X number of “weekly focuses” away.

Watch and See What Happens!

Here’s where things start to get really fun. The things that cause you stress and overwhelm don’t go away, but the way you see them does. Because, each time you get stressed about them, you can stop and say “Boy, am I looking forward to that spin class tonight.” The simple act of smiling and thinking about something you love or at least enjoy, will give your brain this switch and help you get through whatever it is.

Something else really cool starts to happen, too. Instead of thinking about all the things that can (and do) go wrong, (Thanks a lot, Murphy!), you start to focus on the things that go right. AND, you start to feel more gratitude towards them.

There are still obstacles from time to time, but they also bring you humor. And when you start to lose sight of it all and get overwhelmed again, I encourage you to come back to the small things you can focus on that go right.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

And, if after the holiday, you’d like to set up a time to talk about how I can help you reduce your own overwhelm as it relates to the written word, please get in touch!


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