Deep breath. Ever heard of the plumber who can’t fix his or her own pipes. That’s me! I coach in this space and hear about feeling overwhelmed every day from my clients then it struck me. I am in the same vortex. Literally today I woke up did some journaling, wrote my goals, visualised my week, called my daughter, cleaned the house, feed the cats, sent a number of emails, brought in the washing, unpacked the dishwasher, packed my bags for a trip to Melbourne where I am speaking, made the beds, got ready and that was the first hour. I ordered an Uber for the airport and it didn’t show up. ARGH! I was now running late. So I threw my bags in the car in a panic and raced to the airport (within the speed limit) and just made my flight. Now the plane was late. I couldn’t believe however I thought it gave me more time to just sit and breathe. I don’t know about you but this seems to be my daily routine and how do we literally calm the farm. Racing. Overwhelm. Life. I have got this.
It’s not a new idea; countless books, movies, and TV shows have dealt with the idea of women ‘having it all’, and trying to stay on top of everything while still being a leader can overwhelm anyone, especially women. We always feel like we have to look after everyone else before ourselves, whether that’s at home or at work. We hate letting anyone down, and it’s why we tend to avoid standing up for ourselves or asking for what we deserve.
“One of the biggest challenges my female clients face is they allow for the negative thoughts that arise in their mind to take control of their life.”
Pam Ortiz (Pam Ortiz International LLC)
Even those women who seem the most ‘together’ feel overwhelmed at times; it’s only natural when you’re juggling work and home and trying to give everyone your best. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but you can’t let it win. The stress from constantly feeling overwhelmed will affect your home life, your health, and your work – stressed leaders aren’t effective leaders!
As a lot of you know, I’m a single mum to a wonderful daughter, Abby, and she and I have gone through so much together. When you have someone counting on you, you try even harder to do it all – which is impossible on your own. Raising Abby on my own and trying to be as successful as possible in my career was overwhelming at times, especially when you realise you can’t just ‘give up’ on being a mum; you have to suck it up and do it, even in the hard times.
The hardest time for Abby and I was when, after suffering from awful bullying, Abby attempted to take her own life. Seeing your child like that is something that I don’t wish on anyone, and no one would have begrudged me breaking down and letting the overwhelming feelings win. But I knew that I had to stay grow and keep growing, no matter what. I had to show Abby, and myself, that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes – but you can’t let it take over. Bring me the wine…!
Accepting that you can’t do everything, or be everything to everyone is the first step to stop feeling so overwhelmed. As women, we’re supposed to be the perfect mother, wife, sister, daughter, coworker; we’re treated differently to men in pretty much every part of life, and those expectations are just increasing the mental load we put on ourselves.
What helped me, and what will help you too, is to start investing in yourself. Give yourself the tools you need to deal with life’s challenges without becoming too overwhelmed – because life isn’t easy, and there’ll be plenty of testing times ahead.
Strong leaders have plans in place to deal with issues that may arise – and being prepared definitely helps you feel less overwhelmed. When you know you can handle something, it’s easier to manage.
Here are a few tips on how to cope with these feelings, and I personally use them too – so you know they’re good!
1. Watch your mindset and focus on what you can control
You’re allowed to feel shitty! No one can be positive 100% of the time – it’s just not realistic! So embrace the emotions, wallow a bit if you need to and then get back on your feet! Work on getting rid of those ANTs too. Those buggers try and stop us from achieving great things. (Find out more about ANTs in my blog here.) I also find affirmations are amazing and focusing on your achievements and successes.
2. Ask for help
There’s power in vulnerability. It’s not weak to admit you need help; it takes someone truly brave to stand up and ask, “Can you please help me?” Remember that we are human, not superwomen. I also go out of my way to help others.
3. Surround yourself with a great tribe
When you’re surrounded by those that support and empower you, you have someone to share the load and to motivate you when you’re just not feeling it. I have the best tribe and people around me and also had to be strong and let go of people who were not supporting me. It can be a powerful process to focus on those who truly want the best for you and let go of those you don’t. Find your tribe and love them hard!
I also really recommend coaching – it’s one of the best things I ever did for myself, and I’ve even made it part of my career. Women are natural born leaders, so why not learn more about leadership and bring out your own hidden leadership qualities? Coaching is an incredible investment that you won’t regret making.
Through LeadershipHQ, I’m offering an amazing program called brave Women Leading, which is all about empowering women to identify and embrace their unique leadership qualities, and implement them in their leadership roles – both at work and at home.
It’s time to put yourself first, and not be so hard on yourself! You CAN be a great leader, you CAN deal with whatever comes your way, and you CAN have it all.
By being brave, you’ll have newfound clarity, confidence, and focus, and be ready to take on whatever life throws at you!
Remember we have got this.
Now this is beyond exciting we have launched our Leadership Collective Membership featuring the brave online program, click here. I’ve also launched my brave summit 2019 in Brisbane, which you can find out more about here. It’s not to be missed!
Author – Sonia McDonald, Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach and CEO of LeadershipHQ
Sonia McDonald is one of Globe’s leading leadership executive coaches and keynote speakers, as well as an advisor, thought leader, and author. She’s also CEO and founder of LeadershipHQ, and through this, she empowers people to discover their own innate talent and strengths.
Named as one of the Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs and Top 250 Influential Women in the world, Sonia is shaking up the traditional view of leadership, and along the way she has uncovered some outstanding leadership talent which had previously gone unnoticed.
Sonia is internationally recognised as an expert in leadership and strategy, organisational development, workplace diversity and the neuroscience of leadership.
Sonia has also coached people around the world, encouraging them to succeed by reaching their full potential. She has helped hundreds of people build their brands, grow their leadership and business strategies, increase their confidence, build awareness, increase their business revenue, connect to the right people, build exceptional skills and achieve brilliant businesses and careers.
Sonia has written several books on leadership: Leadership Attitude, Just Rock IT! and Neuroscience of Leadership, and she writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She has been published in BBC Capital, The Australian, HRD Magazine, Business Insider and Richtopia