The Drummer and the Great Mountain
A Guidebook To Transforming Adult ADD / ADHD
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Release in Spring 2014

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Adult ADD ADHD: Feeling Overwhelmed – Tips for Working with Overwhelm

2-9-15 Overwhelm

Most of us hunter-types experience overwhelm regularly. It definitely can be a “giant” of epic proportions. 

Overwhelm tends to happen when:

  • The pressure of mundane details and “have-tos” of daily life pile up.
  • We are faced with numerous challenges simultaneously.
  • Our body requires rest or sleep.
  • We haven’t exercised enough.
  • We’ve been eating poorly.

We all respond to overwhelm differently. Some people just shut-down, while others get angry and “blow up” on others. Some look to intoxicants to “take the edge off,” while others do a combination of all of these. They are all coping mechanisms.

Overwhelm Tip #1: Map Things Out

Overwhelm is often connected with feeling confused — a need for clarity. Usually, there’s a number of “urgent” items bouncing around in your head, making it challenging to pick just one to focus on.

A helpful first step is journaling — writing it all out. A friend of mine calls this “vomiting it all out onto paper.” Just sit down and start writing (or typing).

It may just be a list:

  • Taxes are due.
  • Haven’t bought my wife a gift for her birthday.
  • My work report is due in three days and I have no idea how to get it done on time.
  • I’m concerned about the mole on my left arm.
  • The trash still needs to get taken out.

Whatever it is that’s causing the overwhelm, get it onto paper, or into a text document on your computer.

Then, one-by-one, write out potential actions to remedy each item:

Taxes are due

* File an extension
* Ask my wife to handle it
* Plan to sit down this evening and do them online

My work report is due in three days and I have no idea how to get it done in time

* Schedule a meeting with Mitch and see if he’s open to going through it with me
* Call Donna and see if that’s a hard deadline, or can it be moved to next week

You’ll notice that, as you get things out of your head and into a form you can “look at” — your tension will most likely ease up, and you’ll feel less overwhelmed.

A few questions you may want to ask yourself when looking at a particular item:

  • What are the exact steps I need to take to address this?
  • Can this be delegated?
  • Who can help me with this? 

You may also want to prioritize the list based on what is most urgent — what needs to be handled within the next day or two — and what can be set aside for a later time.

Overwhelm Tip #2: Talk Things Through

Talking things through with someone else is another effective method for dealing with overwhelm. Every hunter-type should have a list of people they can call on when they need to “process out loud.”

Often, the most helpful request is:

“Would you be willing to just listen
for few minutes while I work this out?”

Here again, just start listing what’s on your “overwhelm list.” You then may want to request the other person help you brainstorm on some specific items. It’s ideal to have some way of taking notes, so you can make a list of what actions you’ll need to take based on the conversation.

Through speaking things out loud, they become far more manageable. You can “look at them” and work out what to do. You have the added benefit of someone outside the situation offering perspective and advice, so the burden doesn’t feel like it’s all on your shoulders.

Overwhelm Tip #3: Get Some Rest

Overwhelm also tends to rear its ugly head when there’s a chronic need for rest. If you’ve been pushing really hard, and haven’t appropriately scheduled in rest, you’ll be far more prone to overwhelm. 

Many of us have a pattern of pushing really hard, then crashing. The “crash,” in these cases, is overwhelm caused by your body telling you, “I need to rest now!” Ultimately, the body always wins that argument, so it’s best to learn how to work with it proactively.

This is an excerpt from the book The Drummer & The Great Mountain — A Guidebook to Transforming Adult ADD / ADHD — Chapter 7: “Navigating Emotions.”

A Guidebook to Transforming Adult ADD/ADHD

a soulful, comprehensive, and holistic support system for artists and creative humans.
Join our growing community.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The information on this website (podcast, articles, etc.) is intended solely for the purpose of personal growth, and not as a replacement for professional psychological support. The views and opinions of the hosts and guests of our podcast are not meant to be taken as medical advice. It is very important seek the help of a qualified medical practitioner when making any shifts to psychiatric medication you may be taking, or if you are experiencing extreme psychological distress.
©2019 Michael Joseph Ferguson, all rights reserved.
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