Overwhelm - and overcoming it
Note: I’m writing this blog AFTER a period of overwhelm… I would never be able to put these words down if I was still in that mental state.
These are the exact words I wrote to my best friend yesterday afternoon:
I find overwhelm is like a bubble. You start working on something - in this example, the bubble. You’re blowing air into it and it’s growing nicely. Then, one day, you’ve just blown too much, tried to completely overfill the bubble - and so it bursts.
That’s my overwhelm cycle.
I know it happens. No, I don’t know how to stop it from happening and, yes, ‘whatever version of success I’m peddling’ definitely causes it. Time after time.
This time, it was taking part in a business challenge to make X amount of money in X days. Which is fine in theory… but not so fine when I’d started tunnelling. Hadn’t told my team we were doing it. Was trying to launch a new semester of course materials. Also trying to move house AND launch my new website, all at the same time.
During this time I stopped doing the things that I know are good for me: stopped journaling, eating food that fuelled my body properly, so I was tired and couldn’t fit in a full workout… just shortening them so that I had a quick burst and could get going on my mission. And I completely forgot to take my CDB tablets, reasoning they’d probably just slow me down(?!). I even left my family WhatsApp group just so the phone would stop buzzing.
When I’m in overwhelm, I can’t think about anything else apart from whatever it is I’m trying to succeed at… hence the tunnelling. Everything else is just annoying to me. I eat, sleep, breathe, repeat whatever I’m trying to do. It’s pure obsession, obsessive thoughts. That’s what causes my mental health challenges.
It’s like being on a train, going through a tunnel, increasing speed and never seeing the dead end. Yes, sometimes, it also leads to success, but not in the way I would like.
When the bubble bursts, I see what I’m missing. Asking for help. Slowing down and doing things properly. I also remember: I don’t have to do everything all the time.
It’s sobering. It makes me feel guilty that I’m not doing my job properly. It also makes me human.
Life moves fast. There’s always someone who wants your time. I heard a stat this week that a person usually only goes undistracted for 40 seconds before a notification goes off, the phone rings or something else catches your attention. No wonder our heads feel close to exploding sometimes!
I’ve had to learn to reframe my overwhelm - and am still learning: ‘OK, if you know it’s going to happen and it’s awful, but it ends, what’s the flip side?’
Always, on the flip side, I grow. When I’m not in overwhelm, I say no to things. I safeguard my time (Fridays are now a complete no call zone regardless of who’s asking). I plan ahead and give tasks specific times and put it in my diary. Delegate tasks. I get through days with a clear head. I can brainstorm, chat to my family, enjoy lunch, listen to a podcast in peace, linger on the phone. The benefit is, that’s where I achieve lasting success.
Natasha Collins is a Chartered Surveyor, Property Investor, Lecturer and CEO of NC Real Estate, which helps landlord and property investors build profitable property portfolios. After working herself to burnout the first time she sat her APC, she sought help from LionHeart, and later helped us devise our very first wellbeing workshop, Supercharge Your Wellbeing. She is now one of the LionHeart mental health ambassadors. LionHeart continues to support Natasha to this day and she says: “I could not have created the success I have today without the unwavering support of LionHeart to help me with my mental health challenges.”
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