How to Handle 'Back to School' Overwhelm

written by Erica Quam

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I work with plenty of coaches who - if they're being completely honest - struggle with feeling overwhelmed...especially at the beginning of the season.

No matter how well you've planned (or if you haven't planned at all)...and no matter how rested you feel (or if you don't feel rested at all)...the strong feelings of overwhelm can hold you back, keep you stuck, and impact the longevity of your coaching career.

Unexpected Challenges

Let's face it...the number of unexpected things you never imagined you'd have to deal with are there all of a sudden staring you square in the face. Then, you're expected to handle these situations having had no prior experience. Ready? Set? Go!

The feeling - and sometimes the brevity - is truly something you can't explain to the people in your life who aren't coaches. Your athletes certainly don't get the breadth of what you do.

The thing that can hold coaches back the most are the judgements that accompany the feelings. And the feelings of loneliness and isolation that stem from the added pressure you put on have it all done and done perfectly.

Can you relate?

Three things to remember:
a. you're not defective just because you feel this way
b. you're not going to be able to 'fix things' so you don't get overwhelmed anymore
c. you won't ever be able to do things perfectly, or be able to avoid mistakes and criticism

There's no place you finally get to where you have it all figured out and have no more overwhelm to deal with.

There are a couple of things you can do to begin to shift how often you feel overwhelmed...and how long you stay stuck because of it.

What you need is some structure and habits to help you manage yourself. (Notice I didn't say manage your feelings or try and change someone else...).

Habits can be hard to start on your own and even harder to continue because of the amount of willpower it takes to make a change. (You probably see this struggle in a few of your athletes.)

The other thing coaches find helpful is talking about your biggest challenge with someone else who really gets it...aka, other coaches!

Yet, most coaches don't want to 'bother' another coach during the season. They know they should (or even could) pick up the phone and call a friend, a mentor or a colleague. However, the majority of coaches take the path of least resistance - and just grind it out all by themselves.

This is why I love facilitating group coaching calls for coaches to be able to connect regularly throughout the season.

I help you create the time and the space to share what's going well for you and what's not. You don't feel you're bothering anyone...because the coaches who show up are as committed as you are to sharing what's going on, asking for help, and getting that consistent support.

Other coaches on the call will often point out the progress you're making when you can't see it for yourself (because you can't take the coach out of a coach). They help you come up with great ideas you may never come up with on your own.

Coaches tell me that what they love the most is hearing that they're not alone. Listening to challenges other coaches face can shift your perspective.

Here's something I got from a coach last week when I asked her about our call:

"I'm more clear on what to focus on and what to let go. I've got a solid plan I feel good about. I'm not quite sure why I felt so overwhelmed and emotional when I was talking about it...but I'm glad I had a place I felt comfortable enough to bring it up and talk about it!"

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed right now and want to have those habits, community, and accountability in place before your season me to let me know. I can share a few options to see if you think they'd be helpful for you, too.

Cheering you on!