I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take
so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up. – Erma Bombeck
This past week, I’ve been feeling a little overloaded. The manuscripts for my two new books, Tortitude: The Little Book of Cats With a Big Attitude (due out February 2016) and Purrs of Wisdom: Enlightenment, Feline Style (due out spring 2016) are both due to Mango Media the end of this month. I’m in the final stages of revising, editing and polishing, and I know I’ll make the deadline, but I’ve been working much longer hours than I normally do.
The difference between feeling overloaded and overwhelmed
Feeling overloaded is not quite the same as feeling overwhelmed. Overloaded is a cognitive state – it happens when you have too much going on, both in your mind and on your to do list. Overload usually happens as you approach a deadline. Overwhelmed, on the other hand, is an emotional state. It is defined by worry and doubt and a feeling that you’ll never get it all done.
Both of these states can make you feel out of control, but the solutions are different. When you’re feeling overloaded, making a list of everything that’s on your mind can free up enough mental space to make you feel in charge again. Once you’ve jotted everything down, you can start prioritizing. The simple act of making a plan helps to eliminate the feeling of overload.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the solution can be as simple as taking some time to breathe and to calm down. A five minute meditation is often enough to reset your emotions.
If you’re feeling both overloaded and overwhelmed, address the overload first. This helps clear your mind and that in itself may be enough to stop you from feeling overwhelmed.
A surprising solution
I found a surprising solution for my situation: on Thursday, after working for a couple of hours first thing in the morning, I decided to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. The weather forecast was for one of those rare gems of a summer day in our area: sunny, no humidity, temperatures in the low 80’s – my idea of perfect weather. After getting the absolute minimum of work done, I went for a long walk. Then I sat on my deck in the sun for a few hours and read – and I didn’t read anything related to work. I read a beach book*.
I thought I was going to feel guilty, or at the very least, antsy about not working on my books. Instead, all I felt was a profound sense of calm. After my day of playing hooky, I felt refreshed and eager to get back to work.
Cats, of course, don’t feel overloaded or overwhelmed. They don’t have deadlines, or to do lists. So who’s the smarter species after all?
Do you often feel overloaded? How do you cope?
*FTC Disclosure: This is an Amazon Associate link. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.