I'm unsure if it's because I'm very pregnant but this last week I seemed to feel the weight of an old friend. A friend I let go of because we didn't do much to compliment each other. 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?
My feeling overwhelmed is caused by my own mental image of how I should be. That's the truth in it's basic form. My own perfectionist streak is the root of my overwhelm problems.
Growing up I was sold a particular tale. I was told that what I should aim for in life was EVERYTHING and while that is great and I wholeheartedly agree, that comes with a lot of pressure.
So, like all good students I set about trying. I focused on education and started climbing the career ladder. I felt the pressure of finding the perfect relationship before my biological clock started to smack me in the face. My aims were 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, I could go on.
The result of trying to achieve all these badges to sew on my Girl Guide jumper, is that I ended up 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 just picked up the message that they should be. You are 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 previously about my mistrust of multitasking and believe me coming from 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"
What do I think the key to getting over that drowning feeling of overwhelm is? I have 5
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 can't find the time to blow dry your hair and put make up on?". Yes. 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.
This week 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.