How To Regain Focus When You Feel Overwhelmed

In the midst of the battle smoke and confusion, you can lose sight of all that is around you.

The noise is deafening, and it seems that the forces that want to undermine all that you dream of are attacking from all sides.

The fog of uncertainty and war can take out the most courageous of heroes.

It is then that you must reach deep inside and decide what is important.

What you are going to do to deeply impact the world around you? 

Will you better serve the world by hiding, or by fighting?

It is easy to become overwhelmed.

The stress of work and play, family and friends, and just the myriad of activities that seem to take up our daily and weekly schedules can push us over the edge of sanity, if we are not careful.

To help you cope, here are some tips on how to regain focus when you are feeling overwhelmed.

4 Tips on How To Regain Focus

1. Things will look better in the morning. Get some Sleep.  

General Colin Powell kept a list of rules on his desk throughout most of his time in leadership.

One of those rules stated:

It ain’t as bad as you think! It will look better in the morning!”

With blurry, tired eyes, and a brain that has been working on overdrive, you may not be seeing as clearly as you should.

Sometimes, the answer is obvious – but you are simply too overwhelmed to see it.

Take a nap or go to sleep for the night.

A friend once advised me when I was really burning the candle on both ends that the work will still be there in the morning.

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Take a moment and get some rest.

We live in such a fast paced world that it seems impossible to ever simply stop.

Oftentimes, stopping is what will give us the energy and the strength to work harder and smarter in the days ahead.

Take the time.

Turn out the lights and get comfortable. 

Breathe deeply and allow your whole being to rest.  

It would be impossible to tell you how many times that solutions to my most pressing problems have come to me in the morning.

This is how to regain focus fast.

2. Things will look better if you get some exercise. Go work out.   

My life and work is surrounded by people.

When you lead diverse people, they are going to throw challenges and problems at you that are unique nearly every day.

Rarely can I simply rubber stamp an answer that I would have given to someone else.

Every conversation and question seems to create its own need to be analyzed and come up with solutions.

The whole time, they want answers – and they want them yesterday.

Of course, you could NOT have planned for these new problems to land on your desk.

You did not know that your co-worker was going to call in sick, or your car was going to breakdown.

What do you do now?

When I worked at a crisis shelter in Washington State, I had a plan.

I would arrive and read through the duty log of all that had happened while I was away from the office.

I would read all emails and make a mental note of all the decisions that I was responsible for.

I would gather any information to help me make a wise decision.

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I would delegate any decision that did not require me to act.

The rest, I would take with me on a four to five mile run.

I knew the trail well and so my mind was free to consider the options and enjoy the clarity of the moment.

When I got back from the run, I would be able to give clear direction.

Exercise can be like Miracle Grow for the brain.

Get some!

3. Things will look better if you get some quiet. Go out to the woods.  

In urban settings, you are constantly surrounded by noise.

Life is so loud.

Yet when you live there long enough, you stop hearing it.

Somehow, you are able to drown all that out, but it is still there.

Getting out to the woods adds silence to your everyday life. 

It is awesome to leave behind the noises of traffic, yelling, construction and countless other noises, and step out into the wilderness

Squirrels playing, birds singing, and a cool breeze blowing as you breathe in clean, fresh air.

Suddenly, your mind is able to focus on solutions instead of on the problems that are overwhelming you.

I understand that for many, the woods may be a bit of a stretch during the work day.

But a park can do the trick as well. Taking the time to get away deep into the mountains can bring you back to life.

4. Things will look better with trusted friends. Go get wise counsel.  

Anger had taken root in my very soul.

I was put into a difficult situation where I was deeply angry and offended that I was left holding the bag.

The root of the anger really was that I had NO solution.

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I like to be a person that comes through in tough situations.

Yet, I could find no solution and frustration was overwhelming me.

My instincts wanted me to run and hide and never show my face again.

But instead, I found a friend who could come up with great advice for me.

As I sat down with him and started to share the story, it all suddenly became clear.

I knew what the right answers were even before my friend confirmed my solution was indeed correct.

There was something powerful about simply sharing my overwhelmed status with someone that I know cares about me and understands my world.  

From time to time, my friends have been able to get me to see the humor in the situation.

We laugh instead of fret.

Sometimes, these friends just distract me from the difficulty for a few minutes so that I can relax my mind.

Other times, they actually share their experiences and thoughts.

This helps me come up with new and innovative answers.

By surrounding yourself with friends, you can gradually learn how to regain focus in your life.

The question really is what are you going to do when you get overwhelmed? 

There is NO “if”, only a WHEN.

Create a plan to help you overcome the natural fight or flight response that you will want to take.

Steve Covey made the point in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that between stimulus and response there is a gap.

There is a moment where you get to decide and act. We are NOT simply mindless beasts that must fight or run.

We can act with sensible and direct action to solve problems.

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