From Overwhelmed to Whelmed: 5 Steps to Transform Anxiety

By Katie Dalebout

With a to-do list a mile long, even when they’re all tiny tasks, added up they become a massive monster called overwhelm. If you try to do everything, you end up doing nothing but procrastinate and growing the list.

In the midst of overwhelm, it seems easier to add new items to the list rather than choose any one place to begin. Simply put, choice stresses us out and leads to overwhelm becoming the quicksand keeping us stuck.

I heard Danielle LaPorte say she shifts to feeling ‘whelmed not overwhelmed.’ What a better reframe of that feeling we all eventually find ourselves in. You can’t be whelmed by life if you’re not in overwhelm sometimes. The trick is taking the ‘over’ out of your overwhelmed is to simply begin.

Here are 5 steps to shift feeling overwhelmed to feeling whelmed!

1.  Just Start– “When the time is on you start and the pressure will be off.”  That a spot-on quote by Yogi Bhajan and speaks to the point of just making some type of progress no matter how small because the momentum from completing one item will not only propel you to keep going, but it will immediately shift your mind out of your worried mentality you may be caught in. Getting yourself out of the worrying headspace will shift your mood and increase your energy.

2.  ‘…Start Where?’ Not knowing where to begin is simply another excuse in your mind to procrastinate. Where you start doesn’t matter nearly as much as just staring, however if you begin with the thing you’re most excited about doing you’re more likely to complete it and move on.

3.  ‘…But I don’t Want to Start?’- Just tell yourself you’re going to try for 20 minutes. Use a kitchen timer. Make yourself work for 20 minutes. It’s like you’ll be inspired to keep going but shhh… don’t tell yourself that. Some days 20 minutes will be all you do, but it’s better than nothing at all and likely will at least shift your mindset.

4.  Set The Stage– Set yourself up for success. So when overwhelm hits, your workspace is set up to win with everything you need so you don’t have yet another reason to avoid beginning. Create a workspace that feels clean and empowering including everything from your favorite tea, candle, outfit and chair. Don’t take too much time with this step or it ends up being procrastination, see if you can clean your desk prior to beginning your tasks.

5.  Schedule Tasks Instead of Listing Them– Put tasks on the calendar instead of a to-do list so the little things don’t add up. Again this can prevent overwhelm simply by seeing when each task will be completed. Life coach Laurie Gerber says you will never feel like you accomplished everything on your to-do list no matter how much you get done, in your mind you can constantly add more things. So put the little re-occurring things right into your calendar so you don’t have to remember them, rather your calendar does it for you. Everything from getting the car serviced to renewing your passport so your daily task list isn’t made any longer by little things.

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