Are you struggling with overwhelming stress?
From a young age, so many women are trained to be “human givers.” We are the ones who tend to everyone else’s needs before our own. We manage the relationships, care for the sick, wipes noses and butts, clean the litter box and juggle the finances. More and more Gen X’ers are also starting their own small businesses to find a scenario that allows the flexibility they need to manage multiple priorities. No wonder we’re struggling with overwhelming stress!
Lashing out in anger, frustration, and sometimes crying in the closet are all signs of overwhelming stress. (anybody? or is that just me?) If you can relate, let me assure you that you are not alone. You always strive to do the best you can, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like enough. You have GRIT, my friend!
Being busy does not equal being successful.
Somewhere along the way, we allowed the narrative that our value is based on productivity to become our truth. We are so good at being busy. When we complete a project, we immediately throw ourselves into another one. It’s as if we can’t bear the stillness of a completed checklist. It’s a vicious cycle – we feel successful when we are productive but overwhelmed by our time demands.
When we feel overwhelmed by stress, our margin to focus on the things that matter most is diminished. It’s so easy to be distracted by what I call “sideways energy.” We bounce like a pinball through the day, from one seemingly urgent task to another. It’s exhausting!
We set unrealistic expectations on ourselves, with no margin for error. There’s no space to allow for a spontaneous coffee date or sick day. And when’s the last time you blocked out time for a vacation or a technology-free day?
Trying to change “all the things” at once doesn’t work.
When we are overwhelmed by stress, our body puts us into fight or flight mode. We’ve been ignoring the signals for so long; we don’t even notice the low hum of stress hormones running like a background app. The body keeps the score – ignoring the signs of stress eventually leads to physical, emotional, and spiritual burnout.
We often don’t take action until we are in red alert status, and at that point of desperation, we want to change “all the things” immediately. It’s like the house is on fire, and you want to hose the whole thing down and start over. We go on a diet, crackdown on the kids’ chores, lay down the law with the spouse, and vow to buckle down. Our focus is on external factors that require even more control, and before you know it, you’re feeling like a failure and even more frustrated than before.
5 ways to overcome overwhelming stress:
1. Narrow your focus. You may feel like everything is equally important and urgent. Not true! We may have many goals, but we need a single focus to succeed. What is one thing you can focus on that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? Use your primary focus as a decision filter for your time, money, and energy. If you need some help prioritizing, check out this life assessment tool.
2. Nourish your spirit. Once your filter out distractions, pour back in the things that make you feel centered, focused, and at peace. Quiet reading time, prayer, journaling, and exercise are great ways to feel your best. I have a specific morning routine checklist that helps me start each day right.
3. Ask for help! Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you have to! Stay connected to your church or community. Reach out to a trusted friend to be your battle buddy. Please tune in to the Sacred Grounds Podcast, where we share three things in each episode to give you help and encouragement for living in difficult times.
4. Focus outward. Who needs you to be on your A-game today? How can you be a battle buddy for someone else? When we serve others, our attention is taken off our own problems, making the world a better place. I’ve found it wonderful to connect with like-minded friends on the Clubhouse drop-in audio app. You can find me there as @robin_wisner. (currently iOS only). If you need an invite, drop a note below.
5. Make room – physically and emotionally. If your physical space is chaotic and cluttered, your brain will pick up on that – Even if you don’t realize it. Make a plan to spend as little as 15 minutes a week decluttering spaces around your home. Release yourself from the emotional weight of clutter.
Above all else, friend, remember that you are wonderfully made and worth so much more than the measure of your to-do list. If no one else has told you yet, I think you’re amazing!! I hope you challenge yourself to DO LESS with more focus. The rewards are immeasurable.
If this article was helpful, please don’t be shy! Share with a friend!