All of us feel overwhelmed from time to time. No matter our responsibilities, there will be times when the demand placed on us seems to exceed what we can cope with – and as a result we will end up collapsing under the pressure, feeling chronically stressed or failing to give our best performance in the areas of our life that matter to us.
Of course this is not acceptable though and if you are experiencing that sense of overwhelm, you need to look at the things you can do to get ‘back on top’. Here is a solution that can help in a large majority of situations…
This magical tonic for ‘overwhelm’ begins with your ‘reset day’. This will be one day that you make just for yourself and that you are going to use to fix as much as you can.
That means using your annual leave and taking just one day off of work. This in itself is something that a lot of people will be resistant to, feeling that they can’t afford to take a single day off of work without creating a huge amount of extra work and stress for themselves in the coming months.
This is nonsense. If you genuinely can’t take a single day to yourself without your work falling apart, then you need to consider a change in career quickly!
So take one day off and recognize that the benefits you get from this single day in terms of productivity will far outweigh any of the time that you lose by not being at work for 8 hours…
This is not only going to be a day for you to rest though but also a day for you to get everything in order to and to fix your life and your routine so that you can go back to your regular routine and attack it with renewed gusto!
First, you’re going to tidy your home. Why is the place to start? Simply because you’ll find that the tidiness and organization in your home is an outward reflection of your mental state. If your home is in complete disarray and you struggle to find anything/relax in that space, then it probably means that you’ve been far too busy, far too stressed and far too disorganized to do anything about it.
The problem is that this can then have a knock on effect and make you more disorganized, thereby creating something of a vicious circle whereby the more cluttered and untidy your house becomes, the more stress you become and vice versa!
The best place to start is by throwing out everything that you don’t need – and that includes things like boxes of items that you haven’t looked into for a long time. That can sound very extreme but in reality, you can likely buy most of the things that you find you need (of course you should remove anything that has sentimental value first). Another tip is to try and remove clutter from your surfaces. The aim here is to create more ‘space’ for yourself, so that you don’t feel so claustrophobic and particularly so that you can clean your surfaces by simply going around with a quick wipe. If you remove half of your knick-knacks then you’ll be surprised to find how much this can improve the look of your home (unless you’re already very minimalist!). Not only will this help you to see more space and thus feel less cluttered but it will also improve the average value of what’s left! Less is often more in interior decorating.
Likewise, throw out clothes you don’t need, do the washing up and generally do whatever you can to make your home look liveable again.
Once your home is clean and tidy, you’ll find it’s much easy to just unwind and rest when you get home…
Have a think about the things that are causing you the most time and effort and then introduce systems and automation methods that can remove them.
For example, if you are wasting a lot of time and effort driving to work, how about organizing a car pool? If you are stressed from constantly washing up, why not invest in a washing machine?
Fed up with choosing your outfits? Why not make a rotor, which will also help with your washing up. Sick of spending time food shopping? Then why not start having your groceries delivered and save yourself a huge amount of time?
Systems can help us to remove small annoyances as well as dealing with ‘decision fatigue’. If you introduce a few now, you’ll have to spend a lot less time and energy on them later on…
Create a Safe Haven
With the best will in the world, you will find that sometimes your house gets into disarray again. The washing piles up and your surfaces become cluttered and dusty.
This is why it’s a good idea to create one space in your home where that doesn’t happen. Make yourself one ‘safe haven’ that has less clutter and will never get so untidy. That could be a home office, a spare room or even a garden with some nice lighting and garden furniture. Whatever the case, this will now be a sacred space to unwind and you’ll make a pact with yourself to always keep it that calm and tranquil.
Cut Down Your Social Calendar
An inability to say ‘no’ is almost like a pathological condition that a huge proportion of us share. When we’re already that tired and stressed from work and chores, why are you filling your calendar with things you don’t really want to do?
Just because you have a spare evening, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘free’. Find a way to cut back on some of the things you have coming up and maybe even cancel recurring commitments – like classes or regular meetups for example.
Now replace those items with ‘you time’. That could mean you alone playing COD on the couch, or it could mean time to have a romantic evening with your partner. Either way, you will now treat this you time as immovable – just like you do for other social arrangements! You need this time to unwind and just knowing that it is there is going to greatly help you to cope when the jobs start piling up again.
Close the Loops
Many of us have tons of tiny pressing matters on our minds that can eat away at us and prevent us from relaxing. These might not be big jobs or tasks but they are just enough to create a little extra stress and they are hard to push out of our minds.
For example, maybe you are supposed to call your Mum? Maybe you were supposed to message your friend? Maybe you still haven’t opened that post that came this morning? Or changed your address at the bank from when you moved 3 years ago…
These are called ‘open loops’ and it’s human nature to put them off even though they don’t take very long (because other things always seem more pressing and less stressful). Tick off as many of these as you can!
Look After You
This should have taken you to the later part of the day and so for the last part of it, you’re going to look after you for a bit. Because you know what else falls by the wayside when you’re overwhelmed? Your grooming and your fashion! If you’re a guy, you may well have a very hairy chin by now. If you’re a lady, then the same goes for your legs.
Book yourself a haircut, have a great bath and spend some time grooming so you look and feel your best. If you’re the sort and you like working out, then have a good training session too.
When your body feels better and you feel good about yourself, you’ll find that everything becomes more manageable.
Make a List and Use Tools
Now you’ve ticked off all those small jobs and created a safe ‘base’ that you can retire to, you should be feeling a little more on top of things again. The problem is that you probably still have all those big things like financial strain, work responsibilities and family commitments hanging over you.
So the solution to this little problem is to make yourself a few ‘to-do lists’ to organize everything that you need to accomplish to really get back on top. Just having this as a list and having removed all those small distractions will help you to feel a lot better as you can start ticking those things off.
But now you’re going to make one more list as well. That list is going to be a list of things that you are looking forward to doing and things you’ll be doing in the evening. Likewise, make a list of all the things you’ve achieved lately and all the ways you’ve been bossing it. Remind yourself that even when you’ve seemed overwhelmed, you’ve still been enjoying little triumphs.
On that note, give yourself the most relaxing evening possible.
And bring on tomorrow.