Health + wellbeing

Feeling stressed? 2 quick questions to overcome overwhelm

- May 14, 2018 3 MIN READ

Next time you feel stressed and overwhelmed, try asking these two questions. The answers will help you feel instantly empowered.

Oh, the overwhelm!

Overwhelm refers to the feeling of drowning under too many tasks and too many thoughts. When it takes hold, it’s hard to complete one task, let alone ten.

You feel frantic, distracted, fuzzy, stressed.

You feel like your heart is heavy and your head is full.

So full, in fact, that it’s hard to retain any new information. If an important thought pops into your head, it bursts quickly against the pointy edges of mountainous mental clutter.

Two questions. One goal.

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed (or even just have a few worrisome thoughts), I walk away, sit down with a pen and paper, and draw two columns. At the top of each column, I write a question.

In the first column, I write, “What’s wrong?”

In the second, I write, “What’s the fix?”

They’re two very simple, straightforward questions, but the process of writing them down and then answering them, immediately improves the situation.

How it works

The first column

When filling out the “What’s wrong?” column, just have a brain dump. Don’t think about the solutions for now, just write every worry, no matter how big or small. A worry is a worry, and we want to write them all down. Don’t judge. Just write.

The second column

Start listing fixes to the problems. Actually, despite the title of “What’s the fix?” there might not be an exact solution to each problem, instead, there might be a small step or strategy that will manage or improve the situation – not fix it entirely. That’s okay. At least knowing what the problem is, and doing something will help to reduce overwhelm.

Also, you don’t have to start from the top of the column and work your way down. Just tackle the problems in any order that works.

A hypothetical example – Tom the soloist graphic designer

The below example includes both business and personal worries, because the nature of micro business is that the two collide, especially when working from home.

(Note: In the “What’s the fix?” column I’ve written more detail than is required. I did this to share Tom’s thought processes. However, you can just write something like, “Reply to emails tomorrow morning ”.)

Why does it work?

Clears the clutter

Writing and answering these two, simple questions gets things off your mind and onto paper.

Gives you clarity and helps you make better decisions

Prior to writing down your worries, your thoughts can blur into one, big, unmanageable clump, affecting your ability to make clear decisions. By writing them down, you can see that even the biggest clump of worry is made up of singular strands, each of which can be combed through for a solution.

Regain control

Once you’ve filled out the first column, you’ll immediately feel more in control because you can see, in black and white, exactly what you’re dealing with. You’re no longer floundering in a sea of nameless worries.

From overwhelmed, to under control.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, regain your control by writing down your problems, along with steps to help fix or manage them.

You’ll feel empowered again, which is good for you and great for your business.

What are your thoughts? Or, how do you deal with overwhelm?

I wonder if there is a way to make this column a stand-alone thing for insta? Prob needs a brain more creative than mine (Donne would know!).