I have had times where I had several projects on my plate all demanding my attention. They weren’t really demanding my attention, I was expecting super human effort in a limited amount of time. Maybe my goal just didn’t match my calendar. I needed to sort out my priorities and make smart choices and soon realized how to structure my time.
I can always tell I am overwhelmed when during work hours I am cooking, baking, doing laundry or cleaning. I have a housekeeper so the last bit is a true waste of my time, that’s why I hire someone else to do it! When I have not stopped long enough to recognize what I am doing, these things show up. The cool thing is that I notice fairly quickly these days. I still may choose to finish my diversion, but I am using my time to process out what’s next.
In the definition for overwhelm, there are words and phrases like; upset, overthrow, to cover over completely (submerge), to overcome by superior force or numbers, to overpower in thought or feeling.
How about: To affect (someone) very strongly, to cause (someone) to have too many things to deal with, to defeat (someone or something) completely. Does this sound as energy draining to you as it does to me?
Familiar? “Those piles of paper on my desk overwhelmed me enough to close the door and go do the laundry.” “There is so much bouncing around in my head I don’t know where to start, so I won’t.” “If I don’t work long days I won’t get everything done (and you don’t).”
Other synonyms that have the familiar weight and feeling of overwhelm are; crush, devastate, grind(down), oppress, overcome, overpower, snow under, swamp. Can you feel it? The bottom-line is that we will do anything to hide from things that leave us feeling that kind of discomfort if it is at all possible.
What does it take to eliminate this level of discomfort from your life? Action is the best answer and choice is the action. Choose to sort through what has created this feeling. Adding too many things to do in a limited amount of time, is a direct line to overwhelming oneself.
A good start is eliminating activities that waste time and can relieve some of the stress quickly. Getting help to find out which tasks they are may be helpful.
List everything you are trying to cram into your day, week, month and life. How realistic is it? I am all for stretching oneself to achieve greatness but, sometimes we think we are more than one person or that we have more than 24 hours in a day and don’t need much sleep. Now is that realistic or healthy?
Maybe you are a bit of a perfectionist and believe that nobody can do IT as well as you. What if you let go and someone else can do it almost as well? You have freed up some time and space to do more important tasks that only YOU can do? What else is possible?
We can live a life that is busy and productive without heading ourselves to an early grave by doing more than is healthy for any human. Have you been so busy in the DOING that you never have time for BEING? You may not have stopped long enough to know what BEING really means or feels like. Hmm…
Next week we will talk about some of the costs from that overwhelmed life, but for now just know that you are only one person. You are worth taking care of and only you can do that job. One step at a time, one change at a time. What can you do right now that will ease your stress today? Do it again tomorrow and see how small changes glued together can make a huge shift in your reality.