When overwhelm hit’s it’s good to have a plan of action in place to mitigate the impact. As I’ve found myself swamped with a variety of things recently I thought I’d share how I’ve been WOOPing to take control.
WOOP is a 4 step strategy to help you take control of situations (whether that’s caused by overload and the inherent inability to cope, or a cumulation of things that trip you up such as when brain fog strikes).
WOOPing helps get you on the right path to fulfilling your dreams.
WOOP stands for:
WISH – wave your magic wand and wish for what you’d love to have
OUTCOME – the benefits, what will achieving this dream give you
OBSTACLES – what might get in the way of achieving your dream
PLAN – create an action plan to overcome obstacles before they derail you
Download the workbook to get full details of this strategy here >>> DOWNLOAD THE MAKE YOUR DREAMS A REALITY WORKSHEET
In my Feeling Overwhelmed article you can learn more about what overwhelm is, how to deal with overwhelm, and a look at the elements of self-compassion which can also help.
Returning to how I’ve been experiencing overwhelm I have a side note to add in here. Look how I’m not saying ‘I’m overwhelmed’. I am not defined by all the things that have been getting on top of me and becoming an ‘overwhelmed person’, I am simply having a moment in time where I’m experiencing the feeling of overwhelm.
There is a subtle difference in how we phrase this. Just like we don’t define ourselves by a medical condition (say ‘I have asthma’ rather than ‘I’m asthmatic’), we really don’t want to define ourselves as a feeling. We experience feelings and they pass (admittedly not always as quickly as we’d like).
When overwhelm arrives I find doing any form of exercise much harder. When my time feels compressed by ‘all the things I need to do’ then something has to give – and that tends to be exercise. Squashed time generally results in this sort of negative self talk… “I don’t have time to go for a run because I must…..insert the things that seem important at the time….”.
But I know this isn’t what I ultimately want in terms of my lifestyle, and it certainly isn’t the best way to speak kindly to myself. So, I refer to the formula part of the WOOP process – “IF…..THEN….” to plan how I’ll overcome the things I believe are blocking me.
Here’s my formula planned out:
IF I haven’t exercised for a few days THEN I need to reboot.
That’s the P-part of WOOP – PLAN – and for me it stems from my overall desire to stay active as I get older, remaining mobile and retaining my independence.
Simply hibernating doesn’t fit with my values and my WISH to be healthy as I travel through midlife. When I notice a lack of exercise creeping in I pin a note up on my door…. “WOOP” is all it says, and that’s enough to nudge me into planning, then taking action.
Here’s 3 real life examples of my WOOP strategy in action with the PLAN formula:
IF I want to go for a run but I’m talking myself out of it because rain is forecast, THEN I’ll set out my clothes the night before including my waterproof top, and remind myself that it’s only water….just like a shower or when I’m swimming.
IF I’ve decided to take a cold water dip but I’m coming up with excuses about how hard it will be, THEN I remind myself that it is good for my mental health and look at photos of me after swimming – I’m always GLOWING and buzz for ages afterwards.
IF I want to read but feel overwhelmed* THEN I’ll just commit to reading one page.
*It feels a bit silly verbalising this, but I often have a sense of overwhelm when faced with a whole book, sometimes it’s the length, but often the formatting of a book puts me off because the font is so small or it’s text heavy. It’s an odd paradox I continually fight as I want to read, I love learning, but a sense of….almost dread….builds inside me.
These are my real life examples using the PLAN part of the WOOP strategy.
I hope you can see how the WOOP strategy offers you a practical and empowering approach to tackle overwhelming moments in life.
Other articles you may find of interest:
👉 Plus that article I mentioned above: Feeling Overwhelmed