Put your hand up if you have been feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment?
I don’t know about you, but I am a creature of habit. I love having a regular schedule and a rhythm to my day. And most of the time, having a set routine works pretty well for me.
But the reality is these past few months have been an exercise in flexibility and learning to adjust, then readjust, then adjust again. Just when we think we’ve gotten into a groove, Premier Dan holds another press conference with more statistics, graphs, a few new Auslan words to remember, rules and regulations and we’ve got to figure out our new normal. Again.
And after two of my girlfriends were in tears this weekend, I would dare to guess I’m not the only person struggling with a disruption to my normal routine right now. And I have had my fair share of meltdowns too. Put your hand up if you have been there yourself during the past six months? We are all trying to figure out how to adjust, yet again, to a situation that seems to change day by day. Not only that, it’s hard not to get weighed down by the constant heaviness and tension that six months of a pandemic has brought into our lives. I must admit I have stopped watching the news and daily announcements, stopped reading the comments or getting involved in too many politician-bashing discussions. Especially the comments; some of them are just horrible. We are all living and dealing with our own world of disruption and can only control what is immediately around us.
And if you are anything like me, you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed (not to mention a little bit sick of it all) right now.
So what’s the solution? How do you stay positive and focused when the world seems to be spinning in circles? How do you keep up with all your own commitments without feeling like you’re letting everyone else down? How do you balance family, finances, fun, home-schooling, exercise and fresh air with the daily demands of life and work/business and running our homes without losing your ever-loving mind?
While I don’t think I’ve quite stumbled upon the solution for perfect balance just yet, I have managed to road-test a few coping mechanisms for keeping my head above water, even in the midst of chaos & uncertainty. And if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious right now, they might just help you too:
IDENTIFY YOUR COMMITMENTS.
Take five or ten minutes to do a brain dump and make a list of all the activities, commitments, and to-do items that are on your plate right now. Set the timer for this activity, and don’t just make the list in your head—actually take the time to write down every single thing that is taking up space in your head right now, whether it be related to work, to your home life, starting up your Personal Training studio again, kids going back to school, family obligations, or anything else you’ve got going on.
GET BRUTALLY HONEST.
Once you have everything written down, be honest with yourself—what is on that list that you can get rid of right now, either by delegating it to someone else or giving it up completely? This may mean needing to make a few hard phone calls or to write a few apologetic emails, but the reality is that if you are over committed, you would probably end up letting those people down anyway, and it is better to be honest and upfront before disaster strikes.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME.
Now, with the items that are left on your list, rank each activity in order of importance. Remember—not everything can be equally important! Each item MUST have a number—there can be no ties. Once you’ve determined the order, re-write your list in order of priority.
DO THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS FIRST.
The reality is you may not get to everything, but if you start with the thing that matters most and actually get it done, you will be much better off than if you try to tackle everything all at once and end up spinning in circles.
PLAN YOUR DAY.
With your list in hand, knowing what needs to be tackled first, plan your day accordingly. Block out sufficient time for your most important tasks, and be diligent about minimizing distractions—turning off all alerts, instant messaging, and emails—so you can focus and get things done. (This one is my biggest challenge).
This goes for yourself and for anyone who may have added to your stress this week. You can’t do it all. Neither can anyone else. Mistakes happen. Life is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and your persistence will pay off. Keep moving forward, even if it means doing just a little at a time, and don’t let yourself fixate on the things that have gone wrong. Tick off your list as you go. Tomorrow is another day.
Teddy Roosevelt once wisely said, “do what you can with what you have where you are.” Or a modern day take from Craig Harper is “control your controllables”
Sometimes the key to getting through the most stressful times is simply giving ourselves the grace to do the best we can.
My challenge for you this week, if you are feeling overwhelmed, is to set aside a few hours this week to reassess, re-evaluate, and to give yourself a little breathing room. Believe me, we ALL need it! This could be something a simple as taking a bath, a walk by yourself with no music or phone – just the sounds of nature, having a nap in the sun or lying on the couch reading a magazine.
Cutting out overwhelm in the midst of a disrupted schedule isn’t always easy. It sometimes means making difficult choices, as well as buckling down and getting super focused, even when it feels like the world is spinning out of control.
And now I’m off to give myself some Grace! I actually bought the Women’s Weekly to flip through this week. Turia Pitt is on the cover and she is one inspiring lady!