Dear Coach Kim:
I’m so overwhelmed and I can’t come close to getting everything done. Can you give me some advice on handling stress so I’m nicer to my family and maybe share some ways to make my days more productive?
There are days that make you want to hit your head against the wall, but you have to find a way to chill out. Stress and overwhelm can take a huge toll on your relationships and your health.
There are three reasons you may be experiencing overwhelm. Figure out which of the three is the cause of your stress, and you’re on your way to a solution.
1. You have more on your plate than is humanly possible to do. Get realistic about your responsibilities and your schedule. If you want to stay sane, you are going to have to drop some things. You can’t do it all.
Look at your priorities and decide what’s most important. Your kids will survive with fewer activities and your house will survive being less than perfect. You don’t have anything to prove. Stop and smell the roses. Literally. Forget what the neighbors think, simplify your life and lower your standards.
2. You could handle what’s on your plate if you were more organized. It’s time to get serious about time management. You may be resistant to adopting a time management system because it feels restrictive, but it will make a huge difference in your life.
By the way, making lists does not qualify as time management. There is no time scheduling involved on a list. Lists cause overwhelm. Throw out the lists and use a planner or an electronic equivalent.
Figure out what needs to be done and schedule a specific time to do each task. Plan a week at a time instead of a day at a time because there’s more time to work with. If you struggle with this, get some help.
3. Stop using “I’m so overwhelmed” as an excuse to get you out of being more responsible. Some people who dwell in stress and overwhelm talk about it constantly. They are using the telling of this story in order to gain sympathy, get attention or to keep anyone from asking them to do anything else. Take a minute and make sure this isn’t you.
What would change if you stopped complaining about your stress and just got to work? It’s time to put on your grown-up pants and take responsibility for your life. This will also involve some time management and prioritizing.
Don’t waste time hitting your head against the wall even if it burns calories. Get organized and schedule some time to relax and have fun.
“The man who doesn’t relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on.” – Elbert Hubbard
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.