Utilizing Your Inner Strength When Overwhelmed at Work

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Stress in the workplaceBeing in business can be turbulent. And sometimes trouble at work can be overwhelming. It is at these times, we are called to tap into our inner strength.

“There are times in all of our lives that outside pressures which come with living have the ability to overwhelm. Feelings of hopelessness, failure, and mental exhaustion are forceful adversaries. If you don’t understand how to harness the power that lies within, it is easy to become a victim instead of a victor,” explains Dr. Lesly Devereaux, author, motivational speaker, minister and life coach.

To deal with the overwhelming situations in life, life and career coach Suzanne Strisower suggests that you know your purpose. “If you know your purpose, you’ll better understand the underlying reasons for the struggle, plus it will motivate you to continue on your path,” she says.

Find the source of what’s making you feel overwhelmed. “In the workplace, it is usually tasks, projects, or deadlines that contribute to this feeling. In my nearly 10 years of working with leaders, I have found that being overwhelmed is more mental than physical. It is not the physical weight of the task or project but the mental energy of completing the task in the unique environment of the individual that causes the most stress,” says Julia Winston, founder/executive coach at Brave Communication, an executive coaching firm.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more work is the answer to less stress. “Most people try to overcome being overwhelmed by working more. ‘If I just work a few extra hours on this,’ they think, ‘then I can catch up.’ Under this thought, they work more and systematically cut out all the activities in life that energize them,” says Winston. “Working out, meditating, eating nutritious meals or spending time with loved ones are forfeited in the futile attempt to overcome being overwhelmed. A study in partnership with Stanford University in April of 2014 showed that productivity at work declined greatly after 55 hours. In essence, there is no point in working more than 55 hours because productivity will be the same whether you put in 55 hours or 80 hours.”

Play instead of work. “In order to overcome being overwhelmed, I recommend my clients spend more time on activities that strengthen them. Since it is easier said than done, I recommend the following techniques to help my clients reduce the state of being overwhelmed,” notes Winston.

Dig deep at harsh energy you have used in the past. “Tap into the overcomer: Looking back over your life can either hurt you or help you. If you focus on your past failures it is easy to fall into a deep pit of hopelessness. Several years ago, I made the decision not to be held hostage to my past failures. Instead, I used the challenges to inspire others who think they lack inner strength. Focus on the times when you faced a challenge and were able to move forward. The reality is this: whatever you faced is behind you and you managed to survive,” says Devereaux.

Trust your gut. “I think is really important is to consult your inner guidance and listen, perhaps the reason that it is overwhelming is that you are not listening to your inner wisdom and so you are facing the hardships of those decisions,” says Strisower. “Listen and be guided, you’ll never go wrong I tell my clients – sometimes the answer is to stay, sometimes it’s to go, but in either case your higher power will be guiding you.”

Turn a negative into a positive. It may sound cliche, but make lemonade with the lemons you’ve been handed. “Turn adversity into opportunity; it is easy to focus on the negative of any situation. You beat yourself up and start believing that whatever adversity you are presently facing is how your story will end,” says Devereaux, who herself has had to deal with similar situations. “During a time in my life when I experienced personal and professional failure, initially all I could do was focus on my mistakes wishing I could rewind the clock and start over. As time progressed, I realized that I could not take back one day of my life good or bad. I had two choices, either I failed flat, living with shame, hurt, guilt and embarrassment or I failed forward looking at the upside which was my opportunity to learn and grow into a stronger, wiser person. Inner strength is learned when you look for positive outcomes in all situations.”

Energize yourself. “Put energy-building activities on your list. What are the things you need to do to feel creative or courageous?” asks Winston.  “The reason great ideas come to us in the shower or wheedling other mundane activities is because we aren’t thinking about it. We need that break time. Pray, take a walk, help someone else, have coffee with a friend, play that board game with your kids, take a nap, paint, write creatively… or whatever energizes you for an hour.”

“Do you”– and accept you. “Embrace you: The good and the bad equals the sum total of who you are. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Keeping your eye on you and the great qualities that you possess is the only way to develop inner strength. Stop worrying about how others perceive you and resist being a people pleasure. Returning from prison seven years ago was challenging,” notes Devereaux. “People whispered, gossiped, and alienated me. I knew that I had to turn my mess into my message. I refused to worry about what people said and I certainly was not going to be held hostage to my past. If you want to build inner strength, keep your eyes on you and off of everyone else.”

Lastly, don’t despair. There will be light at the end of the tunnel if you work to get there. “If you lack the inner strength to succeed, then it becomes impossible to turn your dreams into reality and live a life full of joy. The good news is that inner strength can be developed like any other skill. You must be willing to focus, exercise self-discipline and learn self-control,” says Devereaux. “The worst feeling is one of regret in not trying. Giving up is never an option because with each new day lies unlimited possibilities to accomplish goals and live a meaningful life.”