Does more choice make us happier?

A lot of people regularly find themselves overwhelmed.

The possibilites in every area of life are growing more and more each day.

There was a point in time where what you ate was limited to what you could kill and what you could grow at that time of year.

On one hand having more choice gives us the possibility of a richer life with more freedom. And let’s not forget, the increase in choice is the result of innovation that has has resulted in more options than humans once thought was possible.

However, having more choice can also make things harder, having 100 options instead of 10 can end up causing unnecessary stress. This in turn can reduce your overall happiness.

I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how much or how little choice you have, there is always room for innovation.

But we can’t ignore the unhelpful side effects of increased choice and so the important thing to remember is that when you know what you want you’re less likely to be overwhelmed.

The falsehood of rushing

We’re tricked into believing that the quicker we go the more we are able to get done.

Upon reflection this is often false. The more you rush the more you end up overwhelmed and in a flurry.

You’re more likely to make mistakes that set you back, to the point where it may have just been better in the long run to go at your usual pace.

How to stop feeling so overwhelmed?

The answer is in the question.

Stop.

The feeling of being overwhelmed often comes when we don’t allow ourselves to feel something and instead adopt a go, go, go mindset.

Instead taking care of yourself and working through your feelings, you fill your mind and time with 101 distractions that will eventually catch up to you.

Or maybe you’ve taken on too much, you have a lot going on and haven’t had enough time to rest to keep you going in a way that is healthy.

What ever the case may be, you can’t keep going.

When told to stop or even just slow down we often use the excuse that we can’t. Perhaps it is that people are relying on you or you think there’s too much to be done.

But as it is those things that are causing the overwhelm, it’s exactly what you need a break from.

So stop, even just for a few minutes, it will make more of a difference than you think.

Knowing when to disconnect

The internet and social media in particular can get very overwhelming. There’s always something new to see.

Trying to keep up with it all can be stressful. Instead of just knowing about the lives and thoughts of your close friends and family, you now have an insight into the lives of millions of other people.

Sometimes you might find yourself picking up your phone every few moments with no real purpose except to check for something new and of course there is and so you keep doing it over and over again.

When you find yourself excessively checking, what you probably need is to take a break and disconnect.

Put your phone down and maybe even just turn it off for a few hours or a few days. See how you feel.

You’re likely to find that the less you check your phone, the less you feel the need to check.

Self help

Perhaps when you were young, someone taught you that when you feel overwhelmed, step away and give yourself a moment.

Maybe you grew up practising that and maybe you didn’t. If you didn’t you might find that as an adult when you feel overwhelmed you don’t quite know how to handle it.

The feeling might end up growing and growing to the point where it’s now unbearable. Then all of a sudden you remember that in the past it helped to give yourself a moment.

Even though you know it could help, you don’t do it straight away because you’re almost skeptical. It might not work, you might end up feeling exactly the same.

But then you do it, you step away, get some fresh air and take a few deep breaths.

It helps.

You feel calmer afterwards.

In that moment you remember that (even though you forget time and time again), you’re capable of supporting yourself in difficult or uncomfortable situations.

The easiest way to get things done

Is to start.

Not soon, not later and not tomorrow but now.

So often we find ourselves overwhelmed by our ever-growing to-do lists that we end up thinking more planning, more thinking and more organising is the way forward. But at the crux of it all without taking action, nothing is going to change.

You’ll be surprised at how at ease you feel once you start getting things done and actually commit to it for a chunk of time wholeheartedly instead of half-heatedly. Not long after starting you’ll find yourself getting into the flow of it and the anxious feels will begin to simmer.

Often it is merely the thought of doing the work that is causing you to feel overwhelmed not actually doing it.

Unlearning panic

Sometimes you just need to against the easy option.

Panic is really easy to do. A moment of stress or overwhelm often ends in panic when you don’t know how to handle the situation.

If you find yourself panicking in these situations often, it’ll eventually become a habit. Even when you can handle the situation if you give yourself patience, once you get used to going into panic mode it’ll end up happening at any opportunity.

So, you have to teach yourself not to panic.

It mainly takes patience but you also have to be able to catch yourself in the moment before you start to freak out.

You have to remind yourself that the situation isn’t too much for you and that you’re capable of coming up with a solution.

Tending to your needs

Now might be the perfect time.

If you find yourself stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, you might also feel a little helpless.

But the chances are you actually have a pretty good idea of what you can do to help yourself.

Rest, put your phone down, turn off your tv or computer, phone a friend, stretch…

However, despite knowing what to do and knowing what will help, we refuse to tend to our own needs.

People will often say things like I don’t have time to rest or I’m too busy to take a break.

But the truth is that mindset comes from not valuing taking care of your well being.

It might feel strange at first but it’s much better for you to regularly rest from life than to be forced to rest every time you work yourself into the ground.

 

Managing stress and deadlines

Been there done that, felt awful.

So, these are three little things that work for me because sometimes I need to remind myself that putting things off will never be helpful.

Start
Beginning as soon as possible gives you the most amount of time to work on your thing. I’ve found that it’s often when I leave things until the last minute I don’t have time to work through the challenging bit which shows up as things being too difficult when maybe what I needed was more time.

Plan
So I’m a planner. I find that it helps me feel less overwhelmed and gives me the structure I need. Otherwise I get caught up in my thoughts and nothing gets done. It also makes things easier for when you’re doing the work and leaves less room for distraction.

Talk
A recent lesson I’ve learnt. If you’ve started and made some plans but are still finding things difficult or maybe if it’s just stressful, talking helps . You might not think it’s true but you might be surprised. Voicing how you feel can be freeing and also depending on who you speak to you might get some helpful advice or a fresh perspective.

What works for you?

Meeting expectations

Not those of others but your own.

I think a lot of people have expectations for what they want out of life. And despite the popular phrase that goes something like ‘If you’re dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough’, high expectations can be overwhelming.

But something that I’ve learnt is that you have to be committed and pace yourself. If you truly want to achieve something it shouldn’t be conditional, you should be dedicated to it.

I’ve also found it useful to check in and like to refer back to something Seth Godin once said about how you’re either talking to the wring people or you’re not making good enough stuff.

And I’m at a point where I can see that just because I’m trying hard doesn’t mean what I’m producing is good enough for the outcome that I want.

When that happens I take a step back and re-group. I think about what I’m doing that is good and how I can make it better.

My expectations of myself are quite frankly ridiculous which is why I find them overwhelming. Plus, I often make the mistake of focusing too much on the end goal instead of simply just doing the work.

I don’t have a roundup or a takeaway as I’m still learning how to manage the expectations I have of myself.

However, what I will share is that if you find yourself getting overwhelmed or frustrated you probably need to change what you’re doing or the way you’re thinking.