I’m overwhelmed…I’d better get cleaning

I know the signs of overwhelm. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, I know it instantly. I can’t make a decision. I start dithering – going back and forth between options, or tasks, or diversions. The feeling of overwhelm – for me – starts as a tightness in my chest and turns into a flock of butterflies in my stomach, but not in a good way.

And suddenly all I want to do is clean. Or clutter bust. Or organize.

I don’t want to organize the thing that is causing the overwhelm, I want to organize something else. Other things around me are driving me mad with their messiness or clutter or disorganization…or just the fact that they are there.

I recognize this as a pretty effective distraction technique. I can’t wrap my brain around whatever it is that is causing me to feel overwhelmed, so I look for something that I can wrap my brain around.

I’ve also found that it’s a pretty effective management technique for me, too. It’s not just a distraction; it works.

I take a break from worrying about whatever it is that is causing my overwhelm. I pick a small thing to declutter or to organize. Let’s pretend I picked the cabinet under my kitchen sink. I give myself permission to tackle that task. I end up feeling a lot better because I have actually accomplished something.

Meanwhile, all kinds of subterranean things were also happening. I let my brain work on the real problem without having to start a task, and I almost always discover that it comes back with a clear priority and place to start. I remind myself that I can put order and structure in place where once there was chaos as soon as I see the new status of the cabinet. It’s the tangible evidence of “you’ve got this” that I need to squash the overwhelm. And bonus: another space organized.

I get out of stuckness by doing things, it’s just how I’m wired. And overwhelm can definitely be a way to get stuck.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,

Maggie

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