Trust me - I know what overwhelmed feels like.
In recent years I have run my own business, alongside working full time in a high school,
alongside campaigning for educational reform,
alongside raising my 5 kids,
alongside trying to be a good husband...
Yes, I definitely have had times when 'barely coping' was the normal and 5 minutes to myself was a rare luxury.
Does this sound familiar to you?
I don't think I am doing any less these days (although we have passed the baby phase) but life is definitely calmer (most of the time)
I put this down to 3 things...
1) Perspective. When you know that "it's only for a time - this too will pass" it helps you to stress less when you are up at night with sick kids and still have to front up and listen intently to clients or students the next day. Or when all your major bills seem to arrive within a week and then the car decides to blow up... In my earlier years I have to admit not handling these events very well. Each set back was the end of the world and I got on the worry train for another ride the track of despair and disillusion.
The trouble is, STRESS itself takes up sooo much time and energy and rarely helps you to think clearly, problem-solve or perform better in what you need to do.
I can't remember when I actually realised it, all I know is I wish I got it sooner - perspective. The ability to not personalise or internalise my adversities.
2) Focus. Studying as a life-coach has helped me to realise one very important thing. Focus matters. When we are trying to balance too many duties at one time, not only does each area of life get a divided (aka - 'less than the best') version of you attending to it, we also actually LOOSE TIME as we shift from one activity to another, This is called context switching. Research shows that if we have 5 or more activities happening at once, we are really only operating at about 25% efficiency. That is incredible when I think about how I have tried to operate in the past and explains a lot about why I felt so overwhelmed by life's challenges. Coaching has made a big difference in my level of efficiency not only at work but in my family and personal life too.
3) Elimination. Learning how to say NO! Now if you have read this far, then you are probably agreeing that 1 & 2 are wise and sensible strategies you can use to improve your quality of life, BUT when I talk to friends and clients about this one the response is usually; "Yeah right! What can I possibly let go off?"
When we are in the midst of feeling overwhelmed, our own mindset creates the sensation that we are existing in a state of constant tension. All our responsibilities feel like they are stretched tight like elastics and pulling us in varying different directions. We feel that anything we let go of will snap back like a rubber band, out of our grasp, never to be caught hold of again! This state of mind is compounded by the fact that we have no spare time for deeper thought or reflection. The reality is however, that if we put something apparently demanding on hold for a day or even a week, it doesn't all fall in a heap as expected, it doesn't vanish never to be seem again and the universe doesn't fall to pieces around us because we sad "No". That aspect of our life just floats, suspended, waiting until we can get back to it again.
Setting healthy boundaries is a powerful thing to do - especially if you replace it with 'me-time'. Give yourself a chance to think, to plan, to restructure the chaos into something manageable and efficient.
Working with a coach to achieve this can be incredibly rewarding and you walk away not only with a clearer mind and a sense of peace, but also a renewed energy and belief that it is possible to reign victoriously in your own life.
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