The following is paraphrased from Ted A. Moreno’s Blog Post, Avoiding the Fog of Overwhelm Part I and Part II, where Ted discusses “the state of overwhelm, what it is, how it happens and how it affects us.”
State of Overwhelm
Overwhelm happens when there is too much information coming into our conscious awareness. Our minds only have a certain capacity, like a cup that can hold a limited amount of liquid. When our minds are filled to capacity, and stuff keeps pouring in, we lose the ability to cope.
At this point, our ancient survival mechanism, that good old fight or flight, gets triggered. When that happens we become what is known as “hypersuggestible” which means that we are susceptible to whatever is coming into our minds. We are actually in a state of hypnosis, but the suggestions we are giving ourselves are not positive, unlike the positive suggestions you get in a hypnotherapy session.
Often, when we are overwhelmed, there is an accompanying state of stress; the conversations we are having in our heads are usually negative monologues. When we are overwhelmed, we sometimes program ourselves for negativity and fear. We end up (unintentionally) with a reinforcing cycle of overwhelm.
The Fog of Overwhelm
Responses to the state of overwhelm vary from a complete shutdown, to irritability or anxiety, or to a feeling of being disoriented or “spaced out,” which Ted calls “The Fog of Overwhelm.”
The end result is the same: We become ineffective in dealing with the challenges of life. We may lose the ability to focus and stay on task. We may turn to avoidance or procrastination. We will probably feel anxious or depressed.
How to manage The Fog of Overwhelm
Get adequate sleep and take naps when needed. Remember how your mind is like a cup? Every day it gets filled with tension, pressure and the stress of living. Sleep is the time for your mind to empty the cup.
Don’t skip meals. Some people are prone to anxiety and overwhelm due to low blood sugar. Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is the main fuel for your body. Your brain uses more glucose than any other organ in your body. Do you ever get that feeling of lethargy or lack of focus in the late afternoon? Take a break and eat something with protein.
Take breaks. Taking regular breaks throughout the day allows your mind to process incoming information more effectively. Breaks are scientifically proven to boost productivity and focus. Consider working in one-hour or 90 minute spurts, then take a five or ten minute break. Be sure to take regular vacations and days off.
Exercise allows our bodies and minds to release tension and stress. At a minimum, get up and walk around.
Meditation, yoga, and other mindful practices are powerful tools to achieve a state of calm and the ability to focus.
Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking can create overwhelm. Focus is sharpest when it’s narrow and concentrated.
Please click on The Fog of Overwhelm to read Ted’s blog posts on how to have a calm and productive writing life.
Ted A. Moreno is a hypnotherapist, who helps clients become free from fear and anxiety, procrastination and bad habits. He is excellent with phone consultations and phone hypnotherapy sessions.