Four strategies for dealing with stress and overwhelm

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Whether your sense of overwhelm is caused by work, family, both or neither, there are some serious strategies that can help you through stressful times in your life.

Strategy One: Write everything down

This clears the things out of your busy brain and gets them down onto a piece of paper. When you’ve finished the steps below, you can simply do each job in its allocated time, knowing that you’ve set aside time for everything. This relieves the pressure of the stressful push to do everything at once.

  1. Write down all the jobs, both big and small that you have to do. Keep the list handy, and whenever you think of something else (however small), put it on the list.
    1. Set aside an hour to prioritise your list.
    2. Code the jobs in terms of their importance and urgency.
    3. Break the big jobs into manageable chunks.
    4. Decide how long (roughly) each job will take.
  2. Transfer the jobs to your calendar.

Strategy Two: Don’t stress about being stressed

Accept that this is your life at the moment. There will come a time when you are not so busy, when there are not so many urgent jobs, when you will be able to look back and see this busy time in perspective. Accept that for the time being, your life will be busy. After that, you will have time for everything else. Look forward to that light at the end of this tunnel.

Strategy Three: Take out the garbage

Get rid of as many things as you can that are adding to the stress. If there are things that you feel obliged to do, but that are getting in the way of other, more important things, see if you can let them go. Delegate if you can. Contact the people concerned and say you will be taking longer, or that you don’t think you can do what they are asking. Say no to some things. (That’s always a hard one for me.) Don’t take on more work—or make it clear that you won’t be able to give your full attention to their job until after a certain date. If things are meant to happen, they will happen. If not, so be it.

Strategy Four: Take time for yourself

Do you feel guilty about relaxing and doing something for yourself? Does that guilt add to the overwhelm? Many people (especially women) feel that way. If at all possible, set aside some time every day to do something for yourself. It’s always tempting to do everything for work, for the family, for the household, and leave no time for yourself. You feel that you shouldn’t be your number one priority. However, if you’re not at your best, everything else suffers. Leave time to watch a program that you enjoy, for example, (even if you have to record it.) Or go for a walk to the beach or the park. If you timetable something that you enjoy, you no longer feel guilty about it, and relaxing doesn’t add to your stress.

What do you do to combat overwhelm?

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