• Charlotte

Dealing with overwhelm

Where to start? Ironic really. Kind of the point. But I think overwhelm is something to talk about, especially in the context of research and academic studies. How do you overcome that OMG ALL THE THINGS feeling? Here are a few of things that might help.

1. Write it all down

Getting those thoughts out of your head and onto paper (Word even) makes a difference. When we're holding everything in our brains, it prevents us from taking in new information (ever forgot a few birthdays?), and stops us listening to others effectively (see - be a good friend, carry a notebook). You can worry about putting this 'brain dump' into an effective to-do list later, but for now, jot down everything that's on your mind. Then go treat yo' self to a hot beverage, you earned it.

2. Accepting you cannot do everything

I'm not even going to say the cliched you can do anything, but you cannot do everything, because a middle class middle aged white man clearly said that. But that's another issue for another time. You really cannot do everything. And that's okay! How we're defining 'everything' here is subjective too - maybe you cannot achieve everything on your to-do list today, or you just cannot balance work, studying, and a social life this week, month (year...). Let's start with what you can do. And I really mean the very first thing. Which leads me onto my third point:

3. What is the very first step you need to take?

If we're being pedantic, writing it down was the first step, so go you, you're awesome. What's the most pressing thing from that brain dump? (if there are a few - and I know there probably will be, I've been there - just take one for now). What is the very first thing you need to do that would help you?

- Got an essay/research paper to write? What's the very first word you could include that relates to the topic?

- Got some reading that needs reading? What's the very first sentence at the start of that reading?

- Need to organise your schedule? What is one appointment / class / meeting you can book in right now?

I'm not joking - I literally mean the first thing. Absolutely no pressure to do more than that. But those psychologists of you will know, once you start, you're likely to carry on. But again, to pressure.

If you need to take the afternoon to sit in your PJs with Friends on and just zone out, then do it, I'm not judging. But as I've said before, planning (or 'brain dumping') only gets you so far - if there is one tiny thing you can do that will help you feel better, start there. It's always a good place to start.

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