Mastering the Art of Switching Off: Strategies for High Performers to Manage Overwhelm

It has become a regular topic of conversation with clients lately – how do I manage this feeling of overwhelm? Perhaps is smooth and effective but homelife can then feel chaotic.

One big reason for this soaring impact of overwhelm is that we are bombarded with input from so many areas these days it becomes very hard to weed through what’s important. Our choices are endless and our sources of information are too.

In the pursuit of excellence, high performers often face the challenge of managing overwhelm. The key to sustaining high performance isn’t just about pushing harder but about mastering the art of switching off when necessary and recovering properly. Staying in a state of overwhelm also leads us to feeling incredibly drained. This is referred to in our business as “cognitive drain”.

5 steps to combat overwhelm

1. Identify the root causes of overwhelm

Before you can effectively manage overwhelm, it’s crucial to identify its root causes. Whether it’s poor energy management, unrealistic expectations, too much stimulation/sensory overload or non-work-related stress factors like personal relationships, recognising these triggers is the first step towards managing them.

2. Set clear boundaries

One of the most effective strategies for managing overwhelm is setting clear boundaries between work and personal life. This means defining and adhering to work hours, implementing communication guidelines, and ensuring you have dedicated time for rest and recovery – even if this consists of many smaller breaks in the day.

3. Prioritise wellbeing (whatever that might be for you)

Your wellbeing impacts your energy and your ability to focus. It has to be a top priority. This includes:

  • Physical Health: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are foundational to managing stress and preventing burnout.
  • Mindset: Activities like meditation, mindfulness, and reflective journaling can help clear your mind and reduce feelings of overwhelm.
  • Emotional Health: Recognising the signs of overwhelm, such as irritability, sadness, or anxiety, is crucial. Taking steps to address these feelings through self-care practices or professional support can make a significant difference.

Even though it can feel hard to make time for wellbeing practices, the high performers we work with make it their top priority. From a place of wellness, everything else gets easier.

4. Embrace imperfection

High performers often struggle with perfectionism, which can exacerbate feelings of overwhelm. Learning to accept imperfection and setting realistic goals can help alleviate unnecessary pressure and enhance overall satisfaction.

5. Leverage support systems

Don’t underestimate the power of a strong support system. Whether it’s delegating tasks, sharing your feelings with trusted individuals, or seeking professional help, having a network of support can lighten the load and provide much-needed perspective and assistance.

Overwhelm is a signal that something needs to change

By identifying the causes, setting boundaries, prioritising well-being, embracing imperfection, and leveraging support systems, you can manage and even remove overwhelm. The goal isn’t to eliminate stress entirely but to develop strategies that allow you to handle it in a way that supports your overall health and performance.

Join us for more chats about neuroscience and being cognitively energised monthly on LinkedIn for our 20/20 Sessions: Clearer Views on Neuroscience and Energy.