I have a simple rule when I get overwhelmed.
One. Positive. Thing.
It’s so simple that whatever state I’m in I can’t argue with it. It’s so easy that there can never be an excuse. But, applied diligently, it can change pretty much everything.
When I’m in a tizzy, one of the first things to go is the state of my apartment. If I say one positive thing, and keep at that for a week, it becomes livable again. Some days all I do is load the dishwasher. But others it snowballs. I start with “take out the trash” and end up with a sparkling bathroom. I just need to start.
When my self-esteem is on the floor because I’m unhappy with how I look, I use it. It’s a lot easier to get out of bed and go to the gym for 6am when I know that this is all I’m going to ask of myself in that regard all day (of course, having started off so well I’ll tend to eat better and sleep earlier, too). If it’s not a gym day, my one positive thing can be “no chocolate”.
Often one positive thing is about attitude. It’s focusing on the design that I came up with, rather than the change that I didn’t get approved (again). It’s thinking, “I made time to go to the chiro which will make my shoulder better and then I can work out harder” rather than focusing on the fact that I rolled over and didn’t go spinning that morning. It’s thinking about the thing I did for my boyfriend, rather than the fact that we are (still) on different continents.
The power of sustained small achievements is underrated. If every day I did one positive thing for my health, my living space, and my relationship, what would my world look like a month, six months, a year from now?
I decided that February I would focus on rehab. What this has meant for me, is that almost every day in February I did one positive thing for getting my shoulder better – sometimes chiro, sometimes massage, sometimes the gym, and sometimes (frankly) strong painkillers. It’s in a lot better shape now, and I’m in a lot less pain than back in January.
Meanwhile, one of my friends is completely overwhelmed by… life, I guess, but particularly school work. So I shared this rule with her. She’s been getting overwhelmed by everything, but one thing? That seems totally doable.
So it seemed worth sharing with you as well. Try it, and let me know how it goes. Meanwhile, what tricks do you have for making things seem manageable when you’re overwhelmed?