My plate is full. That’s not true at all…it’s overflowing across the table and onto the floor. Most of it self-induced (going back to school always sounds like a great idea), some of it a matter of circumstance (life and kids). Days go by in such a blur that often I don’t know what day it is, sometimes stopping to recognize an entire week went by without realizing.
We’ve all been there to some degree. Feeling overwhelmed. So busy with life that we long for a moment to stop and just be human let alone smell the roses. Being busy may be a good thing. But when we begin to describe ourselves as feeling overwhelmed, we must ask a basic question: Am I busy or am I productive? Am I doing things that are beneficial (happiness, financial gain, career advancement, helping others, etc.) or am I busy doing a lot of stuff that is just taking up time in my day?
When taking on too much the long-term ramifications of our personal well-being can be forgotten. Constantly physically tired, mentally distracted, and riding an emotional rollercoaster are signs of imbalance. If our personal well-being is out of balance then how good of a parent, employee, or leader is possible?
So what to do…
First things first, acknowledge the situation and how you are feeling. Ignoring and soldiering forward only allows the problem to fester and grow. Stop for a moment, concede what is going on and how it’s making you feel. Take a big breath, allow your mind to calm, and give yourself an opportunity to process objectively rather than emotionally.
Action alleviates anxiety. Feeling overwhelmed sometimes causes paralysis. We’ve all said it, “I’ve so much to do I don’t even know where to start!” Then we end up delaying everything as we sit there having a mini pity party. Start doing anything, no matter how small. Accomplishing something brings a sense of relief of one less thing. This builds confidence and eventually momentum, the classic snowball effect. Go from being busy to being productive.
Remembering to guarantee some “me time.” Turn to a hobby (I’m a fan of martial arts). Use it as time to put the world away for a little bit, decompress, and focus on yourself. Having time set aside, not just as a break, but time to do something that is enjoyable, makes us feel good, is focused solely on ourselves is vital for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. The key is making this time sacred, not letting anything interrupt. It is on the schedule for a reason and not to be moved. I know, easier said than done. But ask yourself how important is your well-being?
Start saying NO! Getting things off your plate is one thing. Keeping that plate clean is another. Learning to say no is hard. We rationalize why things are important or feel bad about saying no to someone’s request. Before knowing it, our plate is overflowing again. Saying no forces us to focus what is important and become selective where to dedicate time and energy. Reserve your plate for only the most value-added matters, keeping it from overflowing.