Overcoming the State of Overwhelm
Dr. Laura Baltodano, Owner of Lighthouse Pet Clinic
Lehigh Acres, Florida
Have you ever found yourself with your fingers interlaced through your hair pressing and digging into your scalp, or perhaps even pulling your hair, in frustration? From the moment you wake up, it seems that everyone is demanding your attention. It’s no wonder that before the day is even into full swing, you are completely overwhelmed and wishing you were somewhere else. Know that you are not alone. As veterinary professionals, we live full, busy lives. We are wanted and needed. That’s a great thing! However, in order to be fully present and available for everyday demands, it’s important to reset each day.
Take Care of No. 1
While it may seem selfish, taking care of your own priorities should take precedence over other priorities that demand your attention. When you address your priorities, it helps minimize worry and the feeling of overwhelm that the day’s stressors may bring.
In order to accomplish this, start by decreasing distractions, such as technology. For example, set an intention to not pick up your phone upon awakening each day. When you begin checking emails, texts, and social media your agenda has no longer become your own. By allowing everyone else’s demands, comments, and opinions into your conscious awareness from the get-go, the state of overwhelm and to-dos kick in. If you use your phone as an alarm, and it’s too tempting not to look, consider putting your phone on airplane mode overnight. If that is not an option for you, change your notifications setting on your phone so that your apps don’t have that glaring red number telling you how many emails or social medias messages you have waiting. Alternatively, you can change your display setting to show in black and white. A monochrome screen will make the red notifications button less obvious. On an iPhone, you can change this setting by going to Settings ➞ General ➞ Accessibility ➞ Display Accommodations ➞ Color Filters toggling the button to on and choosing Grayscale. Lastly, remove the alerts, sounds, and vibrations that come in when receiving a text, email, or social media message so you are not tempted to jump and look at it every time one comes in.
Are you getting enough sleep? Studies show that most people are sleep deprived. In order to get adequate sleep, an adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. It can seem like a daunting proposition when there is so much to be done each day and only so much time to do it. Nevertheless, when your mind is able to fully reboot, you will experience improved mental clarity and focus, and an increased ability to remember things. In turn, your mood and overall wellbeing will improve, you will experience increase productivity, and feel less overwhelmed and stressed at the end of the day.
Say “No” Sometimes
Learning to say “no” can be quite a challenge when you are a people pleaser or have a number of interests. However, setting boundaries is an important part of self-care. This can be done tactfully by communicating in a skillful way with co-workers, romantic partners, children, friends, and family. Setting boundaries may result in feelings of guilty, selfishness, and elicit fear of rejection. The key is understanding why it is important to do so in a respectful way. Visit positivepsychologyprogram.com and look up “great self-care: setting health boundaries.” The tools on this site are an excellent resource for learning to set boundaries both personally and professionally, providing real-world examples.
Remember that you matter. You are worthy, valuable, and deserving. You are an overcomer. In decreasing your state of overwhelm, you will open up the space to live your life with intention and purpose rather than one of reaction.