Lately, I’ve had several clients who have described life as feeling “extra”.
For one client, they are at a point in their career when they have lots of opportunities coming their way and not enough time to say yes to everything.
For another client, they have family obligations that are starting to feel like they are squeezing in from all sides.
For yet another client, this “extra” was caused by the emotional overload they are feeling from items in the news.
I would imagine that some of you can relate to this feeling of “extra” – it’s not always a bad feeling, but it can definitely be an overwhelming feeling. The general idea is that you have so much going on in a particular area, or more than one area, that your cup is starting to overflow. Things might be starting to feel a little chaotic, or like they are just on the edge of being out of control.
I have certainly felt this myself and I wanted to provide some strategies that might help if you are in this stage of life right now. Here are some of the things that I have found helpful when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed:
Get clear on my priorities. If I don’t have time for everything on my plate, what are the things that I need to immediately focus on and what can I move to the back burner, at least temporarily? Taking some time to prioritize my lists and projects always pays off.
Adjust my expectations. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, sometimes that’s when I can also be hardest on myself in terms of what I’m expecting for my actions and output. When I can name that things are feeling more challenging than usual, that often helps me reset my own expectations so that I’m more kind and flexible with myself, and so that I also use more positive self-talk (rather than letting my inner critic run rampant).
Remove or delegate as much as I can from my schedule. Even if I clear things out for just a week or two, this can make a big difference in giving me some time margins to deal with everything I have going on.
Start saying no to new things. I find it especially helpful to put a time limit on this. For example, I’m going to say no to things through the end of the calendar year. It helps to not make the saying no an indefinite thing, but to identify a time period where it’s most helpful for me to limit my obligations.
Start saying yes to help. When life is really coming at me, usually other people can tell that my load is a little heavier than usual. If someone reaches out to support me, I accept their help! Even if it’s just a comforting conversation, a complimentary coffee date, or an offer to take a task off my plate, these little offers of help can add up to time savings and a lighter load on what I might be carrying mentally and emotionally.
Be honest. Talking with people around me about the weight I am carrying can be a big relief. It helps when I can be open about a struggle that I am having rather than trying to hide what I am dealing with.
Reestablish a baseline for wellness. The first thing to go when I’m feeling overloaded is basic wellness activities like getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating well. I like to hit the reset button when I’m feeling overwhelmed and find a morning that I can sleep in a little, have a large glass of water, and eat a good breakfast. When I can do that, the day is already off to a better start.
Look for bright spots. Like I mentioned in this podcast episode, finding bright spots in the upcoming weeks or months can be a great form of motivation to keep going when things feel hard. Some of my favorite bright spots that I like to keep track of are new books and tv shows that are releasing, so that I can build them into my upcoming schedule to enjoy.
What are some of the strategies that work best for you when life is feeling “extra”?