“There is more to life than simply increasing our speed”
There are way more sources than ever before pushing and vying for our immediate attention, AND doing a really good job of luring us in whether we like it or not.
They promised technology was going to make life exponentially easier because it was going to allow us to do things much faster thus adding simplicity and convenience to almost every area of our lives.
But the exact opposite has become our reality – now that we can do more in less time, we don’t magically have heaps of free time left for leisurely strolls along the beach, rather the expectations have simply increased. And we have become so. busy.
Life has not become simpler – we’re just doing a really good job of raising the bar higher and higher to meet the ever growing demands.
It’s not surprising, then, why so many of us get overwhelmed when faced with everything we think we have to accomplish in a 24 hour period. (which is a whole other topic for another day, but we won’t go there now).
There are days I am home with my 2 small children that I hardly get even a second to sit down and get any work done, and this sometimes makes me feel a bit discouraged and under accomplished.
When said days occur, my all too wise husband often aptly reminds me: You gave all of yourself to raising and nurturing 2 beautiful little humans who needed more of you today than they usually do, and that’s not a bad thing.
Why is this man always right? And how do I sometimes forget that if I only have time to focus on the most important job in a day – being a parent – it means I wasn’t productive?
But there is an expectation many of us put on ourselves to do it all, be it all, and have it all, all of the time and sometimes it all just becomes so very exhausting.
And often when we’re feeling stressed out we get scattered and confused and don’t know where to start or what to do so we end up giving up and doing nothing. And when we do nothing, nothing gets done which causes us to feel even more overwhelmed and frustrated.
In times like these it’s important we take a step back and go through a short, yet powerful and effective process to help clear that swirly, foggy head, and get those scrambling, racing feet planted firmly back on the ground.
First Off, Take a breath: A Mindful breath. A big ass, belly filling breath. Or 2. Or 3. Slow and deep. Sounds simple, right? Too simple to be effective? Well, try it. You’ll see. No, it’s not going to fix everything right away and have you feeling totally Zened out, but it will take the edge off, or maybe even a whole corner.
Next, Focus on the Good that is Happening Around You: Now that you’re feeling a little more present, think about what you are grateful for in this moment. A loved one? Your kids? Your health? Good food to eat? A job you enjoy going to? Friends who care about you? Your ability to take deep breaths?
It doesn’t matter what it is, just 2 or 3 things that mean something to you (and how many likes you got today on Instagram doesn’t count).
Thirdly Reflect on What’s Actually Important to You: Sometimes we get stressed because we feel like there are so many things we have to get done. Make a list of all of it. Everything you are feeling overwhelmed with because you think you have to do it.
Now, take a red pen and circle the few things on your list that are actually really important (no cheating here). Then, you can either scratch off the things that aren’t all that important or put them on another list entitled: To Do (maybe) When I Have a Few Free Minutes (or not).
Lastly, Focus On One Small Thing From Your List of Important Things: Now that you’re feeling much more calm and grounded, look at your list and pick one small thing you can do right away that will give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment – which, by the way, is the antidote to overwhelm.
Do that small thing, and then acknowledge and feel good about it. You can feel good because what you just did added a coin to your pile – and every coin, aka bit, counts.
If All Else Fails:
Simply channel your inner Thea Leoni, aka Elizabeth McCord from the TV Series Madame Secretary – Or whomever inspires you – whether fictional or not.
As a wife, a mom of 3 and the Secretary of State, some days Elizabeth McCord literally has the weight of the world on her shoulders. But she somehow manages take things in stride, stay grounded, keep a good perspective, focus on the things that are important to her, get her stuff done, AND sleep well at night. She’s obviously doing something right.
How do you overcome feeling stressed out?