I’m often asked how I fit it all in: multiple teaching jobs, coaching, freelance writing, part-time corporate wellness manager, nutrition school, mom, yoga teacher training, ironman training, marathon training, and well, just the basics like getting to bed, folding clothes and showering. I’m tightly scheduled, for sure, but I feel like I have a pretty solid balance…most of the time. Days happen, though, in which I feel like a nest of bees is buzzing inside and might just explode if something doesn’t give.
I’ve found that at least once a training cycle, I become so overwhelmed with daily workouts, expectations and life that I’m convinced I’ll never be able to complete the event. This first happened right around the Spring of 2012, when I was training for my first 70.3. I even contemplated how I could become injured, mildly enough to make it not long-lasting, but seriously enough to impair my ability to continue training for the event. I’m happy to say that I never was able to come up with said plan. Last year, when training for the Boulder Ironman, I had an all-out screaming crying session in which I was certain — absolutely certain — that it was 100 percent impossible for me to do the training necessary to finish the race. I finished it easily, okay — not easily, but assuredly.
You might ask why I pile all these things on my plate? I have confidence I can get it all done, and I do. Sometimes, though, I just have doubts.
This week, I’ve experienced my seasonal panic session. We’ve added a mortgage refinance to the mix so between getting documents together, prepping for Spring Break, kids with extra days off from school and me still trying to get in every workout – I’m beginning to doubt the ability to keep it all going until the May 3rd marathon and August 2nd Ironman. I will. I know that. Somedays, though, I wonder and have to talk myself off the wall.
How do you overcome the feelings of being overwhelmed in a healthy, realistic way? You don’t want to resort to panic and frenzy — so that everything you do either gets half your attention or you drop the ball on major items that need to get done. Being overwhelmed can also cause you to become over-reactive and make split decisions that aren’t really in your best interest or in your heart.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I identify it and then take action.
Five Strategies to employ when you’re feeling overwhelmed:
1) Step Back and Breath. Seriously, count to ten and take a deep breath. Instead of worrying about what could happen – accept what is happening.
2) Take It One Step at a Time or Eat the Proverbial Elephant. How do you eat this elephant? One bite at a time. Instead of looking at a whole week of tasks, tackle each day’s to-do list. If each day is overwhelming, tackle the morning and then the evening. If a morning is overwhelming, tackle it hour-by-hour. You get the idea. Just move from event to event or task to task and think of each one as distinct and individual — not part of some overwhelming ‘whole.’
3) Prioritize. Recognize that not everything is of the same importance and that certain things will not get done. For me, that’s usually housework, folding laundry and socializing. Those are my non-priorities, that doesn’t mean they have to be yours. Complete the most important thing of the day early on (when possible,) so it doesn’t hang over your head or get passed over as the day progresses.
4) Provide Ample Self-Care. You, yes you, are just as important as your family, friends and office. Instead of running yourself into the ground, notice when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Then step away from the busy and do something for you – take a bath, go to yoga, have a glass of wine, watch an indulgent television show, read a chapter in a novel, workout, get a pedicure. It might seem like the last thing you have time for, but I promise you — when you dip back into the schedule you’ve set for yourself, you’re rejuvenated and can operate with energy and focus. Self care removes the need for a pity party.
5) Put Things in Perspective. Often times you’ve chosen to be overwhelmed . I know I have. If something needs to give, let it go. Oprah has said “be open to the yes,” but I say “be open to the no.” You don’t have to accept every invitation or complete every project on your own. You know yourself, and if you get overwhelmed easily, then de-clutter your days and life. Don’t worry that your friend can “do it all” – this is you and your life. Take ownership of what you can do, and do it.