Struggling with overwhelm? It can steal your motivation

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the suggestions online telling you what to do while we are in Coronavirus lockdown? Are you spending time googling Trump updates or bingeing on Ricky Gervais’ After Life and then beating yourself up because you feel you should be more productive when you really lack the motivation to do anything? Are you feeling ‘less than’ or ‘not good enough’ because you have not de-cluttered your wardrobe, baked like Betty Crocker, taken up a new hobby or learned a new skill in lockdown?

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today

Personally and I’m sure some of you will relate, when my goals are too big or my to-do list is too long, I get overwhelmed and that paralyses me altogether. Ahhhh I’ve so much to do, I don’t know where to start so feck it… I’m going to do nothing. Sound familiar? This is when the four stressful personas can creep in and believe me, they’re always lurking, waiting to pounce, no matter what journey I’m on. Let me introduce you.


The four stressful personas:

  • The worrier will be asking you ‘what if?’
  • The critic will be telling you ‘what a disappointment’ you are and how ‘stupid’ your idea is?
  • The victim will tell you that you ‘cannot’ and you ‘will never be able to’.
  • The perfectionist will be telling you that you ‘should have’, you ‘have to’ and you ‘must’.


Can you see how these four personas and their negative self-talk or self-defeating beliefs can completely overwhelm you and paralyse you?


“Working hard is important but there is something that matters even more; believing in yourself” – Harry Potter


I’ll share a couple of tricks with you that I have learned during lockdown, first I try to identify which of the personas (sometimes it is all 4 personas) are creeping in and then I try to stop them in their tracks because your mind believes what you tell it. Second, if identifying them outright is not working, taking out a pen and paper and working out the Change Equation can help me. I know, equations (yuck!) but bear with me.

C = D x V x F > R

Change =

  • Desire (or dissatisfaction with the current situation)
  • Vision (what do you want? what is your goal?)
  • First Steps (how can you break down your goal into baby steps?)
  • Resistance (your desire, vision and first steps need to be greater than your resistance to change)


Breaking a big goal or to-do list down, into baby steps can reduce the overwhelm and then it is easier to take the first step. Your direction is more important than speed. Lockdown doesn’t have to mean we have to put all of our goals on hold but remember as Brene Brown says best “what we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human”.


It is ok to be unproductive, to rest, to have days where you do nothing, to watch Netflix and take naps if that is your goal and what you need. We all need time out or we will burn out. This time in lockdown has given us a rare chance to slow down and be present but if you’re being unproductive to procrastinate because you’re feeling paralysed by overwhelm and will beat yourself with a stick later in the day, do you think these tips or tricks are worth a try?

Tough times in lockdown won't last


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  • So much pressure to be doing stuff – it’s not a pissing competition!!

    The worry of the virus is overwhelming at times – keeping everyone well – parents, kids, husband and myself.

    Great advice Laura and a timely reminder – thank you !

  • I can totally relate to this! Constantly criticising myself for not doing more etc. I’ll definitely try some of those tips and tricks!! Xx


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