How to Manage Feeling Overwhelmed

KarenLeadership, Make a Difference

There are a lot of problems in the world. And by the time you add the global problems to the ones you’re already dealing with – at home, at work, in your community – it’s understandable if you’re feeling overwhelmed and at your breaking point.

When I’m talking with leaders who are struggling with being overwhelmed at work – which is most of you these days – there are a couple of questions I’ve come to find useful to alleviate stress.

What’s your soapbox? We can’t solve it all. If we try, we are diluting our focus. Moreover, while we all want to be responsible, contributing global citizens, not every problem is OUR problem.

Secretly, some of the big problems in the world don’t actually bother us that much. What IS true, though, is that most of us have one thing that really “lights us up.” A thing that, given the slightest provocation, we can rant about, or at least occupy more than our fair share of the conversational space.

So my challenge here is for you to identify that one problem, that one issue, that REALLY gets you energized. The one that you feel MUST be solved in order for the world to be the kind of place you want to inhabit. But note – the one you want to solve might not be one of the BIG ones. That’s okay – big and small, all of the issues need people working on them.

What’s your sandbox? How big an impact do you want to make? And be honest. Most people default to “well, the world….” when really, all they care about is their own backyard. Or pets. Or seniors. Or their neighbourhood community. The size of the “sandbox” you want to play in DOES NOT MATTER. What DOES matter – and, now, more than ever – is that you pick some arena in which to make a difference. A tidier park, some well-fed homeless people, some better-protected front-line workers, fresh water for all of the citizens of the world – pick an audience and make that corner of the world better.

Rather than let the cacophony paralyze you into inaction, choose something. Anything. Anyone. Start somewhere. Choosing to focus on an issue that animates you, at a scale that has meaning for you – those two decisions can help you keep feeling overwhelmed at bay.

And breathe. We share the world. Let’s make it better together.