I know you've felt overwhelmed before, we all have, right? I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve not slept in about two years but this last week I have felt the weight of an old friend, a friend I dumped because we didn’t do much to compliment each other. As sad as separations can sometimes be, this one was very much needed. You see, they didn’t have my best interests at heart and I couldn’t handle the irrational, emotional mess they turned me into.
My friends name? Overwhelm
I need to be honest, I get overwhelmed and it's all my own fault. It's caused by my own mental image of "how I should be". I have a perfectionist streak and I know for certain that it is the root of my overwhelm problems.
Growing up I was sold a particular tale, you might have been sold this old chestnut too. I was told that I could HAVE IT ALL and while I don't want to single-handedly throw us back to the dark ages, I feel I need to confess that for me, having it all comes with a ton of pressure.
Because I could have it all, I felt like I owed it to every woman who had gone before me to have it all. I focused all my attention on education and then started climbing the career ladder. I felt pressure to find the perfect relationship before my biological clock started to smack me in the face. Having it all became a HUGE THING. I needed to be professionally valued, emotionally fulfilled, financially successful. That’s without any of the other pressures you want to chuck in like looking good, dressing well, keeping a nice home, being a great partner, a loving family member and all the other guff we get sold in glossy magazines.
Trying to achieve all these badges to sew on my Girl Guide jumper was hard, there i've said it. It was hard! I was totally overwhelmed. I piled on the pressure, lost sight of my priorities and ended up feeling like a huge massive failure.
We’ve all been there. The ridiculous part is, that if you stop and think about it half of the things you are trying to juggle in your day-to-day life are not even high on YOUR priority list. You’ve probably, like me, picked up the message that they should be! You may even be punishing yourself for your inability to do something you don’t even want to do.
Why are we trying to do EVERYTHING?
I’ve written many times about the topic of "Doing it all" and believe me, I was an Executive Assistant who could Multitask her way out of ANY situation. Multitasking is pointless. That’s still a huge thing for me to say.
So let’s listen to some wiser people.
“To do two things at once is to do neither”
“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time”
So I wanted to take five to tell you how I manage when I get stuck with a big sack of overwhelm, laying heavy on my back.
1) Do something that inspires you
It’s never difficult to find the time or energy for something you enjoy. Once you allow yourself to gain perspective over what you enjoy doing and what really is just a chore you feel slightly freed. Focus on what makes you happy first. Feel that little bit more accomplished all day.
2) Get outside
Reconnecting with something that is so much larger than you helps you put things in order. Nature is a great healer. Whatever the weather, wherever you are, some time spent outdoors will leave you feeling replenished and refreshed.
3) Say something
Don’t suffer by yourself. The very act of admitting everything has got too much is sometimes all you need. Admitting it, seeing it for what it is and sharing your problems makes the whole drama easier to break down and deal with.
4) Burn your lists
Nothing will make you feel worse than adding to an endless list that is not getting done. Half the things on that list are probably not important. Last week I actually said to myself “What is the point in you writing, you haven't even blow dried your hair?”. Yes. Odd. The mind is not always rational. Step away from the list. Focus on one thing you really need to do and do it.
I write, blog and run a business entirely online. I need to be connected, right? Do I need to be connected all the time? No. We all need time away from distractions. We need to be present in our ‘real’ lives a little more than our ‘virtual’. Dedicate a time to shutting off and stick to it. You will be surprised to know it’s all still waiting for you when you plug back in.
So my advice this week is to chuck out your to do list and focus on the priorities that fill you with joy. If you need to know what they are, just tap into your heart and think about what makes your soul sing. This week ditch the multitasking. Focus is what gets results, not spreading yourself too thin. Create a toolkit for dragging yourself out of the gutter when your old friend overwhelm comes-a-knock-in because let’s face it, she will. Frenemies ALWAYS do.