Dealing with stress is something that most of us have to face on a regular basis. New government research shows that 74% of us have felt super-stressed in the last year, to the point that we’ve been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Although the fitness industry is often seen as a less stressful sector than others, we don’t always practice the wellness habits that we preach. Whether it’s due to debt, health worries, or job-related pressures, feeling swamped is something that the majority of us have experienced.
So, if you sometimes feel stressed by work then you’re not alone – even if you’re a yoga teacher.
Stress can increase the likelihood of eating unhealthy, drinking too much, or smoking. So, it’s important to be proactive in dealing with stress before things get out of hand. Not only can this improve our own mental wellbeing but it allows us to help clients and members who are struggling with similar issues.
If you feel like there’s too much pressure or an ever-growing list of things to do, there are practical steps you can take. Here are 3 tips for dealing with stress and overwhelm that may help…
#1. Write Everything Down
You can do this in a notebook, with your phone, on the back of an envelope – wherever. The tools don’t matter in this case – the point is to get everything out of your head.
Simply getting it all out will instantly relieve some pressure. Part of the pressure can come from trying to remember an endless list of things and juggle all those tasks. But once they’re recorded somewhere, you won’t be worried about forgetting something important.
Writing everything down can feel weirdly therapeutic – like you’re emptying out your mind and starting afresh. Your brain is no longer filled with a tornado of thoughts that cloud my judgement (goodbye Monkey Mind!). It’s like the calm satisfaction you feel after sorting out a messy free weights rack or group exercise studio.
You don’t even need to do anything else with the list – just writing it down will instantly make you feel back in control. But if you do decide to tackle the list, then here’s the next step…
#2. Focus on ONE Thing
Once you’ve got everything written down, pick ONE thing to tick off. Not your top 3 or 5 priorities, but one single thing. Focusing on just one item helps to reduce the overwhelm further. Instead of trying to get ‘all the things’ done you’re just trying to complete one. Sure, all the others are still on the list but they won’t bother you as much if you feel like you’re making progress.
By shifting your mindset to a ‘one thing at a time’ approach, you’re able to dedicate all your attention to a task and be much more productive. It’s something that’s helped a lot of people over the years and is a strategy that can always be counted on when feeling overwhelmed.
No matter how big or intimidating a task may seem, focusing on one small thing at a time will lead to progress.
So, how do you know which task to focus on first? We suggest going for the one that’ll have the most impact. Is there one thing on your list that’ll move everything else along? Or conversely, is there something that’s holding everything else back?
This isn’t just about focus. It’s about lining up the dominoes so you can have the greatest impact with one action. Pick the one action that’ll have the greatest effect and then do it. Chances are, it won’t be the thing you’re most excited about. After all, there’s a reason it’s still on your to-do list after all! But it will be the thing that gives you greatest relief once complete.
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⇒ If you want to learn more about this approach, then it’s worth reading The One Thing (by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan) or Essentialism (by Gary McKeown). You can also listen to both as part of an audiobook free trial – ideal if you’re busy and strapped for time.
#3. Try to Get Some Perspective
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then perspective isn’t something that’s easily found. Our brains are too fraught with ideas and to-do’s to think clearly. But that’s why this is the third step and not the first one. We need to tackle points #1 and #2 to regain our sense of control so that we’re able to think more clearly.
So, once you’ve emptied your mind and identified your one priority, the next step is to cut yourself some slack. Seriously, you’re doing your best and that’s all any of us can do.
If you’re running your own fitness business, then remember why you got started. Chances are, it had something to do with freedom and helping others. So don’t allow overwhelm to reduce those feelings of freedom with self-imposed to-do’s. If it’s your business, then you don’t HAVE to do anything.
Perhaps have a million ideas swirling around your head. New workout programs, nutritious recipes, or even a wellness business you want to create. Perhaps you’ve got a mental to-do list of all the things you need to do to promote your fitness blog – social media, blog posts, responding to comments and so on. Overwhelm is especially common with people who have an entrepreneurial streak. But if you’re in this game because fitness, nutrition, or wellness is your passion, then don’t let what you ‘should’ be doing suck the joy from what you love…
This is your game, so you get to choose the rules.
If you work for something else, then ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? In most cases, other people don’t even notice when we’ve made a mistake or forgotten to do something. And when they do, a simple, “I’m sorry I messed up” usually goes a long way. We often ‘catastrophise’ by expecting the worst possible outcome. So, one way of dealing with stress is to get perspective on what’s realistically likely to happen.
Dealing With Stress & Overwhelm – Final Thoughts
So, there you have 3 ways of dealing with stress and overwhelm. Writing everything down helps to calm the mind. Approaching one thing at a time helps to regain focus. And getting some perspective ensures you won’t repeat the stress-cycle too often!
And don’t forget that stress can be a positive force too. Nerves and excitement are the results of the same hormones being released – it’s how your mind interprets them that dictates how you feel. But if you feeling overwhelmed then don’t shy away from seeking professional help to get things sorted – these organisations can all provide support.