6 Ways to Avoid Overwhelm
You’re feeling completely exhausted, or maybe just irritable. You know…you start snapping at your kids for being kids, or bite your significant other’s head off because he/she asked a question. Maybe your brain feels a little fuzzy, or you’re finding it hard to articulate what you’re trying to get across to someone. You’re feeling stressed or anxious, and just can’t seem to focus or get anything accomplished. Maybe you withdraw from those around you and feel like hiding under a rock; or maybe, you say “yes” to anything and everything except what you actually NEED to do because you are buffering and avoiding. Sound familiar?
This is what overwhelm looks like. These are all signs that maybe you aren’t managing your energy very well. And if you aren’t managing your energy well, you are definitely not bringing forth your best self. You can’t possibly be your most amazing self at being a mom, career woman, wife/significant other, or any other role you have in life if you are running on empty! The end result? You don’t feel good about yourself or what you’re putting out into the world.
There is good news! Feeling this way is totally avoidable. There are things you can do each and every day to prevent, or at least minimize, these feelings of overwhelm. I find it much more difficult to get myself out of this place of overwhelm than it is to just avoid being there in the first place. Here are 6 things you can do to avoid overwhelm:
1. Become Aware of Your Everyday Activities
Sounds simple right? I mean, you clearly know what you do every day if you are the one doing it…but, are you truly aware? Awareness is always the first step. To see how aware you truly are I want you to complete this task:
Carry a notebook, sheet of paper, or this Activity Log here and a pen around with you for 3-5 days. This list needs to go everywhere with you. By the time you get home you will have forgotten half of what needs to go on it.
Write down everything that you do in those 3-5 days, along with the time of day, how long it took you and how you were feeling at the time of each task. Make sure you include everything (did I mention that already?)…time on social media, TV time, the time you spend lying around doing nothing, amount of time in your car…everything.
Most importantly, do NOT judge yourself no matter what you write down. This is not an exercise designed for you to berate yourself for how much time you wasted or beat yourself up for all the things you “should” have been doing instead. Your only job with this exercise is to document, notice, be curious, be aware….no judging!
Just a heads up….this exercise will likely cause a moment of self-awareness that makes you say, “OMG!” I know it happened to me-do I really spend that much time on Facebook??
2. Rank Your Activities
Now that you have a better awareness of exactly where your time is going each day, I want you to make a list of the activities you do most days, and give each of these activities a score on a scale from 1-10…10 being the most energizing to you and 1 being the least energizing or most draining for you (things that take more energy for you to do because they don’t come naturally to you).
3. Limit or Reduce Draining Activities
You now have an idea of the things you do on a regular basis that drain you of your energy. The goal in this step is to try to reduce or limit the number of these activities you do each week.
Set yourself a maximum number of hours for these energy-draining activities each week, and don’t schedule these activities back-to-back. Make sure you leave some time in between these activities for restoration.
Here’s an example…I am introvert at my core (shocking, I know) which just means that any activities involving a lot of interaction with people or activities is very draining on my energy levels. In order to recharge my batteries, I need some alone time to process and restore my brain juice. Knowing this about myself, it would not be wise for me to put anything on my calendar following a 3 day work conference because I know those activities are energy-zappers for me. Also, if I know I’m going to have a busy week or weekend, I make sure to schedule in some “down-time” to recover at the end of the weekend so I can be refreshed and ready for the week ahead. Trust me…even if you are an extrovert, you still need time for restoration…especially when doing things that drain you.
4. Make a List of Things that Rejuvenate You
Write down all the things that you can think of that rejuvenate you, energize you, or just bring you joy. This could be anything…reading, exercising, yoga, sleeping, listening to music, painting, etc. Here’s a tip…don’t write down what you THINK should be rejuvenating. Only write down what works for YOU! What works for you may not work for someone else, and that is perfectly OK. While sitting down in a quiet place reading a book might rejuvenate me, hanging out with friends at a party may rejuvenate you. Both are perfectly valuable!
5. Put Them on Your Schedule
Here is the key piece….you have to schedule these rejuvenating activities! I know, to some people “scheduling” stuff sounds like extra work, but trust me on this. You will thank me later. It doesn’t do much good to make a list of what re-energizes you if you don’t actually DO them. The best way to do that is to put them on your schedule like a doctor’s appointment. Just like exercising, the more you make a habit of it, the more likely you are to do it. So, pick a certain time-frame or day of the week and mark it as “restoration time” or “me time.” It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time….just 10-15 minutes every day or 1-2 hours per week, depending on the activity. The important thing is that you are making time to do things that rejuvenate you.
6. Learn to Say NO
“But what if they get upset with me or judge me or think I’m a heartless human being?” My answer to that is “So what?” Is anyone going to die because you said no? Probably not. Here’s the thing…no matter what you say or do (or don’t do in this case), you are NOT in control of how other people feel or what other people are going to think. That is their business. Repeat after me….”What other people think and feel is about them, NOT about me. Not my business.” As long as you are coming from a place of love (for them and for YOURSELF), then it doesn’t matter what they think.
It is not your job to make everyone happy. It is only your job to be the best woman you can be and to do that, you sometimes have to say NO. You don’t even need to offer an explanation. A simple, “Oh, sorry, I won’t be able to” will do just fine. If you are always looking out for everyone else’s needs before your own, you are actually doing them a disservice in the long run. You can’t truly put your best self out into the world if you are coming from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. I repeat…it is NOT selfish to take care of yourself!
No one else will take care of you, but you.
What are some things that you do to keep yourself out of overwhelm? What kinds of activities rejuvenate you? I would love to hear from you!