One of the biggest reasons you can feel overwhelmed with stress is when you realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Or even that you have a habit of doing so.
But how to stop? How do you then go about relieving yourself of what you’ve come to realize is self-imposed stress?
Today I provide six ways you can do this.
6. Give yourself permission to learn how to say “no”.
I realize that for many of you that love being helpful and supportive, the idea of telling people “no” might make your toes curl. “Yes” is a terrific word, but if you aren’t drawing personal boundaries (for how you’re treated, perhaps), then what you’re doing is giving everyone permission to take advantage of you.
No is an incredibly empowering word. It’s sometimes feared because of the concern that using it will upset someone. But if someone gets defensive when you stand up for yourself (such as no longer tolerating a certain way of being treated), that says absolutely nothing about you and your principles and everything about the other person’s.
5. Don’t commit to something you don’t want/can’t do.
Over-committing yourself eradicates your boundaries, your energy, your ability to prioritize your own self-care and, therefore, the ability to be productive. It can even erase your sense of self-esteem because, when you’re over-committed, you begin feeling like you’re failing the people counting on you.
This includes projects at work.
It’s terrific to know to have the reputation that you’re capable and responsible, but what can happen is that you can become a boss’s permanent go-to person for projects. In the end, this makes it extraordinarily difficult for you to complete projects you’ve already taken on. And doing so can end up creating an inadvertent level of resentment towards your boss and your co-workers.
Declining a project when you already have several doesn’t mean you’re declaring you yourself aren’t capable. Instead, when worded with an explanation for why you’re declining, it will let the person coming to you understand.
And if they don’t understand, perhaps it’s time to have a one-on-one talk with them about why you’re no longer over-committing yourself. Wanting to please other people is all right (to a certain extent), but it can lead to more issues for all involved.
4. Prioritize your to-do list to 3 things.
When it comes to goals, it’s easy to get a bit overly-enthusiastic about how to reach them. Three things can happen when enthusiasm gets the better of you. Then, in the name of making things easier for you, the goals and steps you create become too numerous. This can lead to a sense of overwhelm and lack of movement because you don’t know where to begin.
When this happens, my encouragement is to take the first three goals/steps that jump out at you and start there. Often, these goals are the most timely.
Another option is to get the easiest steps done first. While this may seem counter-intuitive, what this does is generate momentum and inspiration to work on the larger, more challenging goals. And when that happens, those bigger goals don’t seem as daunting.
3. Delegate/ask for help.
Asking for help is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. It’s also how you can more easily reach your goals. People love to help when and if they can. This includes family members. Especially children. As early as age 5, I had chores around the house. The first one I recall, outside of tidying up my room when asked, was to clean the toilets. Then, when I had that down, the bathroom sinks. And then came emptying the dishwasher.
Trusting children to help adds an enormous boost to their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence.
2. Reevaluate your commitments.
This is definitely connected to #5 and #6. #3 as well. If you’re sensing you’ve taken on too much and know you can’t give all your commitments the kind of focus you want, then pay attention to that.
If you’re continually thinking, “I have too much to do!” then you have too much to do. Take a long look at what you’ve taken on and see what could possibly be let go (this could mean examining any trust issues you may have with delegating). It may be a case of initially believing you had the ability to take on a certain number of projects, but then finding, at a later date, you’ve taken on too much.
Admitting this and asking for help isn’t a weakness. It’s a way to allow you to give the kind of focus you really want to projects and goals that have a higher value at this time.
1. Reevaluate your priorities.
This is connected to commitments. But it could also be that certain projects or goals no longer have the same level of importance they once did. Or you once thought they did. A goal’s level of importance can fluctuate. If you’re trying to prioritize a goal or project (perhaps to simply get it out of the way) when something else is pulling harder at you, pause for a moment and see why that may be.
Sometimes, when this happens, a new priority arises because it’s directly connected to your being able to complete a project. Goals and steps are funny that way. As we move along in our momentum, new steps can appear. Rearranging our pathway isn’t procrastination. Rather, it’s how we can more quickly and efficiently reach something we want to complete, even if it means a deadline is extended.
Also, where are you on your priority list? Remember, prioritizing yourself allows you to regenerate and find rejuvenation. This then creates far more energy for you to focus on your commitments and other priorities in a much healthier way.
Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.