My mind was spinning with content I wanted to get written, yet I’d been staring at my computer for more than an hour. I couldn’t figure out what to type next no matter how hard I tried to push the words onto the screen.
I could feel my whole body getting tight, I couldn’t concentrate, and all I wanted to do was go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I was in a state of overwhelm and dealing with a self-diagnosed and severe case of writer’s block
If that scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Writer’s block is nothing unique to journalists, writers, or authors; it’s merely an occupation-specific way of referring to the state of being in overwhelm. So no matter what business you are in, it’s unlikely you’ll escape experiencing this feeling.
The state of being in overwhelm is significantly temporary in nature. How you handle it when it shows up, determines whether or not it will escalate into a form of chronic stress or burnout, both of which can severely damage your health.
Research tells us that long-term stress leads to physical changes in our body and brain. These changes may lead to an increased risk of coronary disease, depression, and other health issues.
Moreover, while people in leadership roles are especially susceptible to chronic stress, it is not exclusive to those in the C-suite, and therefore, everyone needs to know the signs.
One of the common first symptoms is feeling fatigued, beyond your normal. Unfortunately, this symptom is often quickly dismissed as a result of working long hours or not getting enough sleep. If that sounds familiar, you should know that insomnia is another common symptom.
Lacking the ability to concentrate or focus, along with finding yourself snapping at people for no reason are also substantial clues that something is going on requiring your attention.
Fortunately, there are some quick and easy steps you can take to deal with feeling overwhelmed. Think of them as preventative measures, designed to avoid the more serious chronic conditions.
The next time you start to feel overwhelmed, do not attempt to push through it, as that only makes everything worse. Instead, try one of these simple strategies to clear your mind and get back to being productive.
Step away. When you begin feeling blocked and don’t know what to do next, step away from your physical space. If possible, go outside, breathe in the fresh air, and put your bare feet in the grass. Sometimes all it takes is movement and a change of scenery to refocus.
Shift gears. Overthinking or attempting to force something to make things happen almost always results in dismal results. Take a few minutes to do something unrelated to your previous task. Consider a 20-minute power nap to reenergize.
Snack. The ability to focus is affected by nutrition. Put something healthy and nutritious in your system. Start with water to ensure you are hydrated. Eat a piece of fruit, raw vegetables, or nuts (if you’re not allergic) to balance your blood sugar levels. When you feed your body, your brain will thank you.
It’s easy to get trapped, stuck, or entirely blocked by the overwhelm. When it happens to you, don’t beat yourself up. When these feelings start to creep in, permit yourself to step away, shift gears, or snack. And then get yourself back to work.
Don’t use overwhelm as an excuse to give up.
Moreover, be kind to yourself and remember, the state of being in overwhelm is temporary and something you have control over.
As always, with anything relating to our health, seeking the input of a health care professional is advisable.