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From Overwhelm to Calm – Your Thoughts Create Your World

ilana jankowitz money matters the retreat the workroom Sep 09, 2021

By Ilana Jankowitz.

Beliefs can have a big impact on our self-esteem. It can be such a fragile thing and when it’s knocked it can have lasting effects.

The messages we tell ourselves as a continual running commentary throughout the day can bring with them huge feelings of overwhelm.

Overwhelm comes from thinking you have to solve all the problems, do all the jobs, have the perfect house/kids/husband/wife, be the perfect business owner/wife/husband/parent … oh, and find time for laundry, family activities and maybe an ageing parent or two.


The Jar Experiment

When clients come to me with feelings of overwhelm and don’t know how to deal with them, I get them to do a simple little exercise to show them a way through the flood of thoughts. And I’d like to share it with you too.

Get a mason jar and a bag of small pebbles and set them in front of you. Every time you think of something you do during your day, pop a pebble in the jar: from dropping the kids off at school to the time you pick them back up, you will have thought of:

  • shopping for and preparing food
  • checking emails
  • writing blogs and posting on social media.

You’ll be:

  • running through bank balances and paying bills
  • creating invoices for clients
  • stressing over unpaid invoices.

And don’t forget:

  • advertising your business
  • being on someone’s podcast
  • at a conference
  • being interviewed.

And that’s before lunch! How is your jar looking so far? Pretty full already? Well, after your hastily eaten lunch there’s the pet to take to the vets, and while you’re in the waiting room you can:

  • check social media and reply to any comments
  • answer a few emails
  • start working on that spreadsheet

When you get home again, you'll need to catch up on some calls while you put the washing machine on and empty the dishwasher. Kids, dinner, clear up, news, Netflix, scroll Facebook, bed.

Phew! What a day!

Chances are your jar filled up pretty quickly and is spilling out all over your desk. Your brain is like that poor jar. It will get overloaded pretty quickly too, full of information that is causing feelings of not being able to cope. A full brain with no outlet always leads to overwhelm. And the list above didn’t even mention all the other thoughts you have in between the to-do list, like, ‘I feel alone’, ‘I have too much to do’, ‘I am so overwhelmed’, ‘They’re making more money’, ‘They have more clients’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘This is so hard’, and so on.

But you know, so much of what we think will happen, what we think of ourselves and what we think of other people’s success, doesn’t happen and is not true. It has no place in your workday, let alone in your life. I like to think of it as garbage, so it needs to be dumped.


The Brain Dump

When your stress is high, your productivity is always going to be low – not much output and little quality. This is scarcity in its simplest form. Regularly doing a brain dump can help you begin to see clearly, give you time to think and give you space to create abundance.

So, start by emptying the jar. Yes, there’s going to be lots of noise as all the pebbles rush out! There may also be lots of feelings that come up for you too. But stick with it.

Write down every thought, everything on your to-do list and every feeling that appears.

Feeling better? Maybe a little empty? Curious about what you are going to do with all these thoughts?

From here you can start to work through your priorities for the day, how you can use your time productively and how to take time out for yourself. Don’t forget though: be realistic. Don’t take all of your brain dump and transfer it to a to-do list for the day!

Sift all the unnecessary garbage out and the rest you can use to set targets for what you want to achieve. Moving to a more balanced way of thinking and working will give you a much-needed boost of confidence too. I always say, ‘what is in your heart, flows out your mouth’. What you feel will be picked up by your clients, your family, and your friends, and they will respond accordingly.

Feeling stressed? Clients will pick up on it and feel less confident in your abilities. Feeling clear and confident? They’ll see that and have confidence in you.


Creating Calm

So, how do we hold on to the magic of this calm new you? How do we move confidently into the future with clarity and abundance? I advise my clients to practice writing down everything regularly to ensure overwhelm stays well and truly away from your door. If it’s on paper, it’s out of your head! All you need is a journal, a pen, and some highlighters.

  • Do a brain dump into a journal every morning and sift through the garbage to get to the important stuff you need to think about and do.
  • With your highlighters, pick out three things that only you can do to advance your business right now.
  • Next, highlight in another colour what you can delegate to others.
  • Then highlight other non-work tasks you have to do that day – leave them for after work, including the trip to the vets.
  • Schedule in breaks as a priority too. You can’t run on empty!
  • Take time for yourself to exercise. This will help you focus better.
  • Remember that less is more. You are less likely to be overwhelmed if you highlight just three things. If you have time left over, consider whether you want to add more, take a well-earned rest or delegate tasks to a VA, colleague, or your team.
  • DO NOT compare yourself to others but do plan time with a business buddy or coach for support.
  • Look for other kinds of support – can you do a work exchange with someone? They fix your IT, and you edit their article?
  • Celebrate when you finish for the day.
  •  REST

And always remember that we only get 24 hours in the day. Don’t underestimate what you can achieve, but also be realistic about the time you have to achieve it!


 Ilana Jankowitz is a certified Money Coach born and raised in South Africa and currently residing in Zurich. Her work is all about identifying behavioural patterns around money, transforming negative thinking and moving from a self-destructive mindset to one that is positive and inspiring.

She is passionate about helping women to break free from self-doubt, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence and move towards financial liberation and she can help you too with her free money quiz.  You can read all about Ilana and her work here or on any of my social pages Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube



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