Recently I was leading a group coaching session with a diverse group of solo entrepreneurs and business executives. The hot subject up for discussion was how overwhelmed, beat, tired, and burned-out many of the people were feeling due to the “too much to do / can’t stop now” syndrome.
Are you one of those people who can’t seem to stop “doing?”
I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt overwhelmed from time to time. And I have noticed two responses to the overwhelm.
The first response is to view overwhelm as negative and as a weakness. We don’t dare to admit we are overwhelmed or dare to talk about it so we feel isolated and alone. This just exacerbates the feeling. We often deny we are overwhelmed because we do not know how to stop the frenetic behavior. So we do nothing. Our employers, colleagues or friends often do not help support us to stop overworking.
The second response is more insidious. This is the view that overwhelm is sexy. We view it as a status symbol. We let everyone know just how overwhelmed we are, and at the same time how willing we are to take on even more. Everyone thinks we like the rush we get from constantly doing so they do not support us. The truth?, We do like the hit of endorphins we get from constantly being busy. We just keep on doing the same thing.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Primarily, this syndrome occurs in our work life but it can carry over to our personal and family life, and it frequently does. Focusing on projects often begins with good intentions but we can quickly and easily be overwhelmed if we do not have a plan to minimize and balance our work. Getting the project finalized for your team, writing the copy for your website, designing the new sales brochure or completing the 90-day marketing plan are extremely important – but having a balanced, healthy life is equally important.
This stressful pattern is telling you to change your life! Once you get this message, it is easier to identify what you need to do to shift out of the behavior.
Following are helpful strategies to stop feeling overwhelmed. I gleaned them from my personal experience and from working with clients who are burned out, cranky, frustrated and even depressed. These strategies immediately diminish feelings of being overwhelmed so you can refocus and make some work/life balance decisions.
- Stop what you are doing for a few minutes and take a break. Go for a short walk, sit outside under a tree, meditate, breathe deeply, go to a movie, call a friend to have coffee and share what is going on.
- Get a piece of paper and make two columns. In one column, list urgent things you need to do this week. In the other column, list those projects that you can delegate, hire or barter to be done.
- Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. Unsubscribe to unnecessary e-mail, organize your desk and office to decrease clutter, stop attending meetings, get off committees and decrease volunteering at fundraisers unless you have a total passion for the organization and the cause.
- Do not spend time with people whom you do not like. Assess your friends and business colleagues. Do they support and honor who you are? If they are negative and don’t share your vision for your dreams, don’t spend another minute with them.
- Decide what is most important in your life. If you want a balanced life, you will have to make changes in your life to allow this to happen. That takes some time and planning but it will be well worth the improvement in your life!
- Take an action step today to make change in your life! Call a friend who will support you, take a class to get organized, or work with a coach who will support and motivate you to have a more balanced life.