5 ways you can overcome feeling overwhelmed
From the looks of it, August was a ROUGH month for church communicators. Within groups, in personal posts, and conversations, I witnessed and listened to multiple cries of, “I’m exhausted. Tired. Frustrated. Doubting.”
Y’all, I’ve felt overwhelmed before too. Communications and marketing require creativity, problem-solving, using resources well, balancing internal needs, and more. When things go just right, there’s nothing better than seeing people show up, lives being changed, softening hearts, all for God’s glory. We do our part in using our talents and gifts for the Kingdom.
On the flip side, it can be exhausting with long hours, people not understanding the process, and other stresses. If it’s any consolation, it’s not that much different outside of the ministry world.
Here’s what I’ve learned to do to keep myself replenished and refill my creativity well.
Protect rest time as much as possible
Psalm 91:1 – “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
My body and mind do best when I get 8-9 hours of actual sleep. That’s just me. Your number could be more or less. The quest for sleep means, with a 6 am alarm, that lights need to be out at 10 pm. And I should probably get off my computer and phone no later than 9 pm to minimize that blue light blasting into my brain and messing things up.
Anyone chuckling with me?
Depending on what’s going on, between life and work, I can make this happen if I’m intentional about it. For the last week, the team here at FFM has been hard at work on fall campaigns for clients, so there have been more late nights. And I’m feeling it.
If you aren’t sure how much sleep you need, aim for 8 hours and see how you feel. Have a set time to go to sleep. Adjust as needed.
When my brain doesn’t let me sleep because I’m both worried and overwhelmed, that’s when I know I need to spend more time with scripture and prayer.
Have time in scripture and prayer
Mark 6:32: “So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
Starting my day with reading through scripture and time in prayer helps to me to calibrate. I learned to do this over the years through friends and mentors who have discipled and mentored me. For this, I’ll always be grateful.
Personality-wise, I’m an INFJ and a 4w5 – which if you know your Myers-Briggs or Enneagram, you may recognize that there are a lot of FEELINGS. When I have them under control, they are like a superpower that allows me to connect and understand people. Incredibly helpful for communications and working with clients! But out of control, oh man. In those situations, it’s difficult for the fruit of the spirit to shine through.
It also means I like structure (shout out to all my fellow J’s out there), so I want to have something specific to read from and have a guided prayer time. Both keep my mind from wandering and dwelling too much on myself, and more on the character of God.
Currently, I’m reading through the Psalms. My all-time favorite devotional is New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp. Reading directly from scripture or devotional books point me in the right direction and prepare my heart and mind for a time in prayer.
Listen to Christian music, worship music, or classical throughout the day
Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed: med by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Music resonates deeply. And as much as I love listening to the music of my teen years, alt-rock becomes noise that doesn’t help much.
Instead, having an environment of praise and focus helps to keep me Christ-centered and drowns out the distractions around me to complete the tasks at hand.
My go-to music sources are Amazon Music or Spotify, with their variety of playlists and stations. I can bounce between classical focus compilations, hop over to gospel or praise, or whatever fits my mood and situation.
Plan the day/week as much as possible
Luke 14:28 – “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
Intentionally planning time to plan, be creative, and complete tasks give me the ability to say yes to what’s essential and relieve anxiety about forgetting something.
You’ll see tools and content around time blocking from so many leadership experts, so they are surely onto something. Managing your time can be tricky in church communications when you have multiple ministries and unconventional schedules. Throw in volunteers that are only available for a few hours a week, and things get hairy. So what can you do to better plan out your time?
My schedule won’t be your schedule, so I’m not going to prescribe you a template and say this is precisely how you should do it. I encourage you to look at your tasks in general. See if you can group like tasks together, and at the best time for your brain to do them. My best writing time is early in the morning. So I try to have meetings in the afternoons when I’m less creative and also ready to talk to people again.
Every job has some tedious, administrative tasks. The activities you put off for days but only take a few minutes to do. Putting all these together mentally help me to know I only have to do these things for an hour and then I’ll have five things crossed off my to-do list.
Working in bursts also helps me when I have a particularly heavy load and need to plow through a lot. The Pomodoro Technique is great for when you know you need to have laser focus for a few hours. The technique has you go through 4 cycles of working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. After four cycles or two hours, you take a longer break. Repeat as necessary. I’ve used the Focus Keeper app for a while when I know I need to minimize distractions to crank content out. You can get it here in Google Play for Android devices or here in the App Store for Apple devices.
Blocking time for other life obligations helps you to see the whole picture and do what you can to not feel overwhelmed. It’s a given to schedule time for work projects and task. There’s also with drive time to get to places, guitar lessons for my son, chiropractor appointments, bible study, etc.
Make time for friends, travel, other interests
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Recently, I looked at my calendar and realized I’d overbooked myself and didn’t have enough “downtime” built-in for me to unwind, be with friends and family, or not do anything at all.
As introverted as I am, I still like to be around my people. Relationships with family and friends bring joy to my life and help me to grow as a person. Travel gives me a chance to explore with my son and enjoy new experiences (and food!)
What recharges you? Is that something that you get to do regularly, or have coming up? If it’s been a while, I invite you to commit yourself to make that happen in the next couple of weeks.
What I’m about to say will go against everything in our current culture, but you can also take the time not to do ANYTHING. Granted, it sounds odd to schedule blocks of time not to do anything at all. I’ve found that it works for me, almost as though it allows me to not be productive for just a bit. This is a great time to go for a walk, sit outside, or pop some popcorn and enjoy a short series on Netflix. I bet you have something in mind, what your “nothing” is. Take this as me tasking you to do it.
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t keep up with this all the time. Some weeks are better than others. I still get overwhelmed occasionally and would rather veg out than plan my day. When I follow through on these things, I see results, feel better, and have a clearer mind to be creative, make decisions, and to use the gifts I’ve been given. It keeps me coming back to these strategies to serve the Kingdom and help churches across the country.
My prayer is this will help you be better equipped to fight those overwhelmed feelings, maybe even before they start.
Have you tried any of these strategies help you battle that overwhelmed feeling? What works for you? Love to learn from our community of fellow communicators!