I’m sure you can relate to the following scenario: You have a full plate, work, maybe school, maybe kids, etc etc. You feel run into the ground, and like one more thing added to your list of to-do’s could break you. At the end of the day you just want to sleep but can’t because the feeling of looming stress of tomorrow is keeping you up at night. You are wholly and completely overwhelmed, and you can’t seem to get out.
Sound familiar? Overwhelm is often seen as strength. I mean,
a girl who does it all is strong and professional. A mom who has so much on her
plate but somehow manages to do it all is a “super mom”, but what nobody sees
is these women are broken, going through the motions but never having a minute
to take care of themselves.
I know personally, I have and am still dealing with overwhelm. I even experienced job burnout a little over a year ago because I was just spread way too thin. Currently I am a student, I work, and I run this blog pretty much any time I have “free”. I also take on the majority of the household chores and cooking (which I choose to do). Right now, I love my life, don’t get me wrong. I am the happiest I’ve been in a while, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel completely overwhelmed at times.
So, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed, but you can’t just quit your job or quit being a mom or quit school?
“No.” is a complete sentence
I know I’m the kind of person that can’t say no to certain people. My boyfriend, certain coworkers, my friends and family have a control over me that I don’t quite understand. If I am at work and a coworker that I hold particularly close to my heart asks me to cover a shift or do an extra task I feel like I MUST say yes. If a friend asks me to go out on my only night I have for myself, I feel like if I say no I’ll seem like a bad friend.
Recharging is important and however you feel fills your energy you need to save time for and if that means saying no to people that you care about, it doesn’t make you a bad person. For me, being alone refills my energy and sometimes I just have to tell people I need some alone time. Remember that you come first, and you don’t have to give a big story as to why you can’t do something, no is a complete sentence.
On days that I work, I shut a lot of other things down. I take three classes, and I try to work my ass off on days I don’t work so on days that I do, I can focus on that one thing. Waking up, working on school, then writing a blog post, then going to work for 8 hours doesn’t work for me and thankfully, I can recognize that now. I set boundaries for myself so that I don’t run into the problem of feeling beat at the end of the day, while knowing I didn’t really get anything done because I half assed everything instead of full assing one thing.
Organize your to-do list
Sit down and write down everything you have to do. Don’t structure it, just write it all down. Then read it and sort through the things that are a must do and things that can wait til next week. Then make a new list of all of your to-do’s for this week and organize it into things for today and things that can wait til tomorrow. This will shorten your visual to-do list for today and make things seem a lot less overwhelming. Realizing that you just can’t do it all in one day is oddly comforting, and knowing that there are things that can wait until tomorrow will leave you some time in your day to take care of yourself.
This might sound obvious, but you need to take breaks. I know the thought process: If I work really hard, and get everything done by 4:00 P.M, I’ll have the rest of the evening to do what I want.
If that’s how you can actually work, good for you. But, it’s not realistic for me. If I try to work really hard and get everything done, I end up procrastinating and getting less done than if I actually took a break every hour or so.
I try to work for an hour then take a 10-minute break to do what I want. Sometimes I read a chapter of a book, or play some sims, or work on my blog, because even if it is kind of work, it’s something I enjoy. I do this a couple times, then take a longer break. Usually this break is to make lunch or supper. If I don’t get everything done in one day, but I got a good chunk of something done and don’t want to rip my hair out at the end of the day, it’s still a productive day in my book.
Realize that being overwhelmed doesn’t equal success
I saw a quote somewhere when I was experiencing job burnout that spoke to me on a spiritual level.
“I’m tired of people romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic. Coffee (though a delicious necessity) is not a food group. And running on fumes is not admirable. Why do we hold pedestals for sleepless nights, break downs and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self care, balance, the ability to know when your body, mind and spirit need to take a step back. Those are things we should admire. We have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment and self endangerment’, because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine.” I’m not sure who wrote this, but it is a picture I have saved on my phone that I look at more often than I’d like to admit.
I remember thinking if I had everything on my plate and I could juggle it all, I would be seen as professional, strong, and successful. It ended up ruining me. Now I know that when I feel overwhelmed and exhausted, I’m doing something wrong, not something right.
I hope these 5 tips for dealing with overwhelm helped you like they helped me. Take a break, breathe, and kick this week’s ass.
And, as always, take care of yourself