“When you learn the skill of managing your own energy, you recognize your capacity… and you’re able to be aware and respond before it leads to overwhelm.” - Laura Shook-Guzman
As entrepreneurs, most of us have experienced overwhelm at one time or another. We are bombarded with tasks, decisions, and the never-ending to-do list each day, and the feeling that we are carrying the weight of so many things can create stress, anxiety...and overwhelm. How do we navigate our business in a sustainable way, while still maintaining our sanity? What is the secret to fighting and conquering overwhelm, and coming out stronger on the other side?
“As entrepreneurs, we think we need to work harder, faster, get more done. So often we’re using the wrong tactics to try to get through overwhelm, instead of stopping, feeling our way back into what is important, and finding clarity.” - Sonya Stattmann
When navigating overwhelm, it can be helpful to identify the stages of overwhelm that we see in most cases.
In the first stage of overwhelm, tension is building. It is important during this stage to be mindful of your own unique “signs” that you are nearing the point of overwhelm. Maybe you suffer from tension headaches or find yourself growing more irritable. During this stage, it is so crucial to simplify. Cut down the number of decisions you need to make in each day, and focus on one or two tasks that you can complete. Find ways to connect with your body through exercise, meditation, or mindfulness. When we are approaching overwhelm, we tend to get trapped in our minds, so connecting with your body can help shift our focus and deescalate feelings of overwhelm.
But what happens when we are in the heat of the moment and overwhelm is consuming us? In the midst of overwhelm, our brain can get foggy or we can experience anxiousness or even panic. During this period, it’s as if our brain has gone offline. The most effective tool during this phase is to identify ways to reset your nervous system. Move your body. Shift your attention to something outside of yourself. This may mean taking a walk outside to connect with nature, or intentionally spending some time focusing on your children or significant other.
After we have reset our nervous system and move out of the intensity of overwhelm, we move into a recovery phase. When the storm has passed, it can be tempting to jump right back into the busyness of life. However, the best way to navigate this phase is to let yourself be, before ramping up the “doing.” During this phase, it may be helpful to regain a sense of control by downloading all of the tasks and decisions that could be clouding your brain. Be gentle with yourself, and recognize when it could be helpful to get support from outside of yourself through a mentor or friend.
“When you are an entrepreneur, your health determines the success of your business.” - Laura Shook-Guzman
Each time we cycle through these phases, we have an opportunity to learn, grow, and be more equipped to handle the stress of our business. As entrepreneurs, we are not doomed to be trapped in an eternal cycle of overwhelm and recovery. As we gain self-awareness, we have the ability to navigate the decisions of our business and our life with clarity, and become more adept stewards of our energy. It is in this growth that we can achieve sustainable, long-lasting success.
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