Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Read this!

Dec 3, 2021

Mindfulness

Almost everything feels like a high priority item in today’s world. Messaging-based applications permeate our social and working environments. There’s a sense of always having to be online. Always available. Culture perpetuates the notion that being a team player means accepting every project and request that comes our way. That success is dependent on living the hustle lifestyle. What we’ve created is a recipe where more and more of us are becoming overwhelmed.

Overwhelm is the feeling of not having the time, energy or capacity to achieve the projects or priorities on our plate. Left unresolved, these feelings can be one of the greatest killers to your creativity and leave lasting negative impacts on your health. Today, I’m going to use three recent examples from my own life to explore the causes of overwhelm and techniques you can use to bring focus back into your life.

Social Pressure

The first example was when I began Bhavesh Studios. I had an unconscious perception that I had to be on social media to realise my creative dreams. I feel the pressure to be everywhere stems from our primal fear of being socially outcasted. Our ancestors were hunter gatherers and not being part of the community meant missing opportunities and potentially not surviving. Whilst that’s no longer technically the society we occupy, our brains haven’t evolved out of that mindset. This creates the pressure to be everything for everyone and everywhere and anywhere, creating feelings of overwhelm within ourselves.

The first step in breaking out of the vicious cycle is acknowledging how social pressure plays a role in our saying “yes” to everything until we reach a point of exhaustion. Acknowledging the realities and why overwhelm was happening in my life, I began saying “no” to the things that weren’t serving my ability to create to the highest level. I’ve made a separate article all about how to say “no”. That video will support your journey of reclaiming focus with your creativity and life.

Being Unaware of the Scope

I want to move onto the second reason overwhelm can permeate our lives. Having unrealistic perceptions of a project’s scope can lead us to overcommit ourselves or underestimate the true time required to bring the project to completion. Many of us understand the concept that undertaking a new project means committing time. But there are other considerations to take into account: the cost that taking on a project will play on our energy, attention and health. And it’s essential we take these factors into account because, by their nature, many projects have a habit of growing in scope beyond the original vision. Assessing opportunities from that perspective, you can reclaim hours by consciously selecting the projects and priorities which pivot you closer to your desired destination.

The example I’d like to use is this very YouTube channel. When I began, I hadn’t thought of how the platform could bring me closer to my vision, or how the scope of each video was gradually becoming bigger and bigger. I desired revolution, not evolution between videos. It wasn’t realistic and the overwhelm took a gradual toll on my energy and health. To remedy my overwhelm, I took a digital sabbatical to re-evaluate my approach to videos and cement the creative vision I had for the channel. My creative vision is to serve other creatives to live their best creative lives. And helping others doesn’t mean feeding my own ego by trying to create revolutions in each new video.

Undervaluing Your Existing Workload

The final contributor to overwhelm I want to discuss in this video is under-appreciating existing workloads. I feel the inability to accurately appraise projects and priorities comes from a desire to be superhuman; where others may struggle, we want to believe we can do and have it all without compromise. There’s a word for this: optimism bias. It is the belief that we are less likely to experience a negative event than others. When cognitive bias kicks in, focus goes out of the window and we’re more likely to tackle a workload outside our capacity. But focus is saying no to the hundred good ideas and picking one or two profound ideas that move you towards your priorities and creative dreams. Remember, even a great creative idea can steer you away from your important projects, priorities and goals.

And this was a big learning lesson for me. At the start of the year, I committed to the idea of making short comic. On the surface, this would appear to be driving me towards my goals. But in actuality, it was taking me away from the destination I wanted to work towards. My goal is to one day produce a comic series. Not shorts. And the short comics were a huge undertaking. New storylines, character and environment designs and storyboards had to be produced every week. Finding myself overwhelmed, I had to reevaluate, say “no” to the good idea of making short comics, and prioritised the projects that were in alignment with my vision.

Overwhelm is one of the biggest challenges facing our creativity and health. I hope you feel more equipped to tackle overwhelm having read this article.