Overcoming Overwhelm for creatives

Overwhelm can happen for many reasons, it may be a case of having too many things to do, challenging and tough situations or juggling your creative business with a family or another job to name a few. Here are some tips on tackling your to do list, prioritising your time and finding calm.

Slow down and simplify motivational inspirational positive affirmation A5 print

Don’t forget the basics

  • Often, overwhelm can creep in when we are over-tired, dehydrated or hungry so check in with the basics – when was the last time you ate something and hydrated? Are you getting enough sleep/rest?
  • Look at your diary and plan in some self-care and rest. Resting is needed to restore and renew and if we are constantly overwhelmed, busy and stressed, this can lead to burn out. It might be some early nights, a cat nap, meditation – anything that allows you to relax – even 10 minutes is better than nothing!
  • Have some screen free time – you could try having some screen free days or evenings to give you a break from the constant stream of information and emails/messages. Hide your phone/turn it off or move social media to your desktop to give yourself a break.

Dealing with the to-do list

  • Write it all down – make a brain dump of all that you have to do to save mental energy – split it into three lists urgent, non-urgent and future.
  • Use the ‘future’ list to keep a note of all those brilliant, creative ideas that you can’t tackle now – pop this list somewhere safe – you don’t need to see this daily.
  • Drop anything from your to do list that is non-essential along with any ‘shoulds’ or guilt.
  • What can you delegate? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Say no to things that you don’t want to do and that aren’t yours to do without the need to over-justify – remember saying no is an important part of self-care.
  • What can you simplify on the list and make more manageable?
  • Now, prioritise what is left on the urgent list and break it down into daily, achievable actions so you know what to tackle first and build in the non-urgent when you can. Make this daily list achievable for the realistic time you have available.
  • When prioritising items for your creative business, use the time you have to focus on the tasks that will move your business forward or help make sales.
  • Look at batching or blocking activities to save time and be more efficient – e.g. answer all your emails in one go, block out a set time for admin, take all your product photos in one go. This saves time moving from task to task mentally and physically.
  • Do one thing at a time and finish it – multi-tasking adds to the feeling of overwhelm.
  • Set reminders on your phone to help you remember the important things and saves mental energy trying to remember things.

Other things to help with overwhelm

  • Take some deep breaths – use your breath as an anchor to bring you into the present moment.
  • Talk through what you are worrying about with a friend or loved one – often saying it out loud can take it out of your whirring mind.
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself – remind yourself you’re doing the best you can.
  • Have physical reminders of calming affirmations and things to do when you’re overwhelmed to calm yourself down – often we can’t think straight when we’re overwhelmed so these help to nudge us in the right direction.
  • Go for a quick walk in nature to gain some perspective or try a guided meditation/yoga nidra meditation to help relax you and calm your busy mind. Look around you and notice something you can hear, see, smell, taste and feel. Anything which grounds your energy will help stop your mind whirring and bring you back into the present moment. The more you can stay in the here and now, the less overwhelmed you will feel with what has happened in the past and what is coming up in the future.
  • Create strong boundaries to help you maintain your peace and protect your energy.
  • Give yourself permission to put your needs, health and well-being first.
  • Hand back responsibility for things that aren’t yours.
  • Step out of other people’s drama and protect your peace.
  • Let people take responsibility for their own lives – you don’t have to fix everyone else and their problems.
  • Remember tomorrow is a new day and you’ve done enough today.

I hope you have found some helpful tips to find calm again during overwhelm. If you would like some more help with overwhelm and self-care, check out my creative business blog at www.tinyacornmightyoak.co.uk where I create positive affirmation artwork.

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