Productive, virtually fool-proof ways to get back on track
We hosted forty people at our house this weekend for a birthday party. There’s still cleanup to tackle.
This week my kids have a total of seven after school activities. We also have my daughter’s birthday and a field trip, which I’m chaperoning.
I have blog work to complete, some videos to edit and Easter to plan.
Basically, I feel overwhelmed.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one intimately familiar with feeling behind on your to-do list before your feet even touch the floor in the morning. It’s part and parcel to having a full life, and I’m not necessarily complaining.
What I will say, however, is this: feeling overwhelmed is not productive. It doesn’t help you tackle your to-dos any faster and certainly doesn’t make you feel good about your day.
On the contrary, when I feel overwhelmed I tend to become paralyzed. There’s too much to do, and no clear order to do it in, so I just decide to give up before I’ve even begun.
Knowing this is my tendency, I’ve begun working on some strategies to overcome feelings of overwhelm. These strategies don’t change what has to be done and won’t add any extra hours to my day, but they do allow me a necessary reset, so I can begin to move forward.
Show kindness to others. Taking the focus off myself, at least for a few moments, and doing an act of kindness does wonders for managing my inner chaos. I’m not quite sure why this works. Maybe it simply helps us to look outside ourselves and our own problems.
Whether it’s sending an encouraging note to a friend, purchasing a coffee for the person behind you in line, or sharing a kind word with someone who needs to hear it, there’s power in kindness. It’ll affect not just the person you’re being kind to, it’ll make you feel good, as well.
Practice mindfulness. Meditation is a great stress-buster and if you think it’s just not for you, try this: simply set an alarm for five minutes, close your eyes, sit and breathe. No mantras and no special poses needed. Just a few minutes of quiet is often all I need to steady my breathing and get back on track.
Don’t have five minutes? No problem. Taking several deep breaths and relaxing your shoulders is another easy way to refocus and regroup.
Figure out your next right thing. Despite what everyone clamoring for your attention wants you to think, not everything is your priority. Figure out your “next right thing.” This simply means asking yourself what is the next small step you need to take to begin to feel more relaxed and encouraged.
For me, I tend to need a clear, uncluttered environment to be my most productive, so clearing off the counters, putting away dishes, and then making a cup of tea or coffee tends to be all I need to start moving in a new, positive direction.
Stop overwhelm before it starts. I recently wrote about this topic and I think it bears repeating. The best self-care is simply doing the sometimes tedious work of being an adult.
Getting enough sleep, eating a plant-based diet, making (and keeping) doctor appointments…these are the fundamental building blocks of protecting one’s well-being and keeping stress levels down.
It doesn’t mean you won’t get overwhelmed, of course, it just means you have a slight edge when it does happen because you’re already being proactive in taking care of your mind and body. It’s not glamorous but, the older I get, the more important those basic, dreary tasks of adulting seem to be.
Be clear on your priorities. No one can do it all. We all already know that.
I believe that a happy and successful life comes from narrowing your focus, choosing your priorities, and saying “no” to anything that doesn’t bring you closer to your goals.
It makes decision-making shockingly simple. No more waffling, no more saying “yes” when you really mean “no”. Your priorities determine your response and your calendar should reflect this. If I take a peek at your calendar, I should have a pretty good idea of your values, goals and focus.
Talk to a trusted friend. Not once in the history of my life have I ever felt worse after talking through problems with a friend. Sometimes a simple “me too” in response is all I need to start to feel less alone and less frazzled.
My friends nod their heads and let me rant and complain about how overwhelming it all is, then they bring me back to reality with a few words, a funny meme, or by simply telling me I’m overreacting. Friends just make it all better.
Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life, but nonetheless, it’s still hard. Hopefully you found a tip or two here to help you the next time you feel paralyzed by life and everything that comes with it.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment so we can continue the conversation.