How to reduce overwhelm when starting something new

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when you were learning something new? It can make it feel like you are never going to get to grips with the new content you need to learn. This is the reason why many people quit new courses or experiences soon after beginning. The sense of overwhelm can be so great that they just give up before they have given things a proper try. The same goes for instilling new habits.

I have always wanted to try Yoga as I felt it would fit well with the way I live my life. Coming from a small town, there were no classes locally. Add to this the fact that I do not drive and I had enough excuses to avoid making any effort. But recently, I saw an ad for a Yoga school in Cork (2.5 hours away) which has taken its teaching online. They were offering live classes and a back catalogue/library for a very reasonable monthly fee.

Immediately, a few advantages sprung to mind:

  • I could fit it around my schedule which reduced any pressure.
  • Although the live classes are via Zoom, I can do them with my camera off so that nobody can see me. This eliminates any potential embarrassment that could lead to overwhelm.
  • I can use videos from the back catalogue/library and pause and rewind them to help me improve my understanding of the terminology and postures.

So, I thought that as I had always wanted to try Yoga, I should go ahead and sign up.


My initial experience

I started with a beginner’s class and as expected, I did not understand all of the terminologies, and I had no experience of the postures. The teacher was excellent and did her best to demonstrate everything and present the information in different ways to aid our understanding. Her teaching did reduce the sense of overwhelm as did the points I made earlier i.e. I was in no rush to do anything else; nobody could see my struggles and I knew that I could watch a few classes back to enhance my understanding.

Most importantly, as the overwhelm had been reduced, I really enjoyed the class and I feel like I gained a lot from it. A few classes later and I really felt like I was getting into the swing of things. So much so that this week, I have scheduled 8 classes. I am feeling great about things but if it wasn’t for the professionalism of the instructor and the excellent way in which the service is offered, I may have been too overwhelmed to enjoy it.

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Reducing overwhelm to aid learning and development

If you are trying to learn something new or, instill a new habit; overwhelm can be one of the biggest sources of friction that you might experience. The following are some simple steps you can implement to reduce the sense of overwhelm:

1. Identify potential problem areas

When setting out at something new, it really does pay to think about what the experience may be like for you. It is beneficial to identify where you might struggle, and where possible, identify potential solutions.

As someone who struggles with perfectionism, I can become embarrassed when I struggle to grasp something new in front of others. While I am working on that, I was delighted to learn that we would not have to have our cameras turned on. It reduces the impact of my perfectionism which then allows me to dedicate more energy to learning, rather than worry about what others think of me.


2. Seek a good role model/teacher

No matter what path you want to follow in life, you are following someone who has tread that path before you. They will have experienced the problems you are going to face along the way. They have learned strategies to deal with them. This means they can help you avoid or deal with the same problems.

My yoga teachers are so good that they are telling the class how to deal with a problem before I have even realised that there is a problem. They know what it is like to struggle and they are passionate about helping us to minimise our struggle.

A good role model or teacher has experienced and overcome the problems you are likely to face on your journey. They will help you to avoid these pitfalls so that you can make faster progress.

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3. Understand that it is a process

One of the most difficult aspects of making changes is the fact that results lag behind the implementation. You know that if you start a new diet today, you won’t notice weight loss tomorrow. It takes time for the positive effects of your changes to kick in. You must understand that doing the right thing today will bring positive results further down the line; as long as you keep on doing the right thing each day. One day won’t change your life but the consistent implementation of the right actions will.

It is the same thing when learning something new. The small amounts of new information you learn at the beginning may not seem to be much but that little bit helps you to understand the next bit, and so on. When you have patience and give it enough time, you will begin to see that it all fits together nicely.

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4. Create a supportive environment

I love the movie ‘Wedding Crashers’. In the movie, there is a character who crashes funerals to find women to hook-up with. The character is funny because he is absurd. You wouldn’t go to a funeral to find someone to hook-up with. Aside from the fact that it would be disrespectful,  it’s not the right environment so your chances of success would be limited. That is easy to understand.

But when you try to learn something new or implement a new habit, do you consider the importance of the environment? Is your environment conducive to what you need to do? When I am doing my yoga classes, I have an area in my house for doing it. I lock the house up so nobody can call in (we still do that around here) and I turn off my phone so nobody can interrupt the class.  My mat and cushions are already sitting there in preparation for the class.

All of these steps reduce potential problems and allow me to focus solely on the class, free from overwhelm and disruption.


5. Reduce the expectation

One of the biggest sources of overwhelm is the pressure you put on yourself when you’re expectations are too high. As already discussed, you must understand that it is a process. It is better to start small and build up rather than set out with expectations that you can not meet. Because when you fail to meet those initial expectations, you will feel overwhelmed and you will be tempted to give up.

So, start small and start building the right habits.

Unbreakable Self Confidence

Develop rock-solid confidence to help you successfully implement positive change in your life, so you can live your life, your way.


To discover effective strategies to develop rock-solid confidence , check out 'Unbreakable Self Confidence.


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Conclusion

Whether you are learning something new or implementing a new habit, it is going to be challenging. When it becomes too challenging, you can become overwhelmed which makes it more tempting to give up. All before you have had a chance to see the benefits of your changes. However, with a little forward-thinking, you can take steps to reduce overwhelm before it arises, thus increasing your chances of successfully making the desired changes. The steps outlined above will certainly help you to reduce overwhelm so, next time you are making changes, give them a try.