“This is too much. It just is too much.” Jessica was almost in tears. She felt as if life was piling up on top of her and she was drowning in a pool of overwhelm and stress. This phone call had put her over the edge, puncturing whatever had been keeping her afloat. “How do I conquer overwhelm and stress,” she asked herself, “when there is so much against me?”
Have you ever felt like Jessica? Here is what I mean.
You have a lot of responsibility at work. You work late. Then, you feel as if you cannot shake it off when you leave the office. When you have worked from home, the boundaries have been erased even more. There is no break between work time and home time. As a result, everything is piling up at home — doing the laundry, the cleaning, time with the family. . . . When life gets like this, it is an indication that you are dealing with overwhelm and stress.
How else do overwhelm and stress show up? You are neglecting yourself. You pay a passing nod to eating well. You are not exercising and sleep has become an issue. You wonder, “When will it end?”
Instead of getting better, things are getting worse. You are going down. How do you conquer overwhelm and stress so that it does not become the pool in which you drown? Here are five steps.
Step #1 Know Who You Are to Conquer Overwhelm and Stress
Knowing who you are is foundational. It may even sound simple. You may say, “Of course I know who I am.” Sure you do. However, at what level?
When you are busy, it is easy to lose sight of who you are at your deepest level. I know that I have done so. You lose yourself in your myriad responsibilities and it seems as if you become those things. That is dangerous.
You are created by God as one-of-a-kind. You come with and have gifts and potential wrapped up in you. Life is a continuous journey of discovery as you continually unwrap the gift that you are. However, when you lose sight of it, you set yourself up for overwhelm and stress. You do so by engaging in activities and becoming entangled with people not aligned with who you are.
Step #2 Know Why You Are Here
How do you answer the question, “Why are you here?’ It is an important, but often neglected question. Do you know the answer? There are different ways in which you can answer this question.
You may answer the “why are you here?” question from the perspective of your employment and/or business. You may also answer it from the perspective of the roles you play in life, e.g., I am here to take care of my children. All of these are valid. However, there is a deeper level.
Another way to ask the “why are you here” question is to ask, “What is your purpose?” This sounds more weighty, but it is the same question, though it takes you deeper. It is important.
When you know your purpose, you can make choices in keeping with it. You set your priorities and interactions to ensure that you stay aligned with it. This is a necessary step for you to take to conquer overwhelm and stress.
Step # 3 Recognize Your Season to Overcome Overwhelm and Stress
You know that there are seasons in nature. There is winter, spring, summer, and fall. Or, in some places dry and wet seasons. You make choices based on the season. For example, you do not wear summer clothes when the temperature is below freezing.
Similarly, you have different seasons in your life. In which season are you?
Not recognizing your season sets you up for overwhelm and stress. What often happens is that you act as if your life is one season where you can do and be everything all the time.
However, you may be in a season where you need to prioritize your kids. Or, the season may be such that you need to step back and attend to your emotional needs.
Each season requires you to shed some things that would get in the way. Conquer overwhelm and stress by recognizing your season and organizing your life accordingly.
Step #4 Organize Your Life with Wisdom
Organizing your life to conquer overwhelm and stress requires wisdom. How wise are you? Maybe a better question is, could you have lost sight of the wise person that you are? Perhaps you are applying your wisdom in your work but not in your overall life. Here is a clue.
Who you are, why you are here, and the season you are now in are the alignment metrics around which a wise person organizes their life. Doing this allows you to keep at bay overwhelm and stress. This is wisdom.
How do you do this? You say, “no” to everything that will take you out of alignment with your who (you are), why (your purpose), and what (your season).
This opens the door for you to say, “yes,” to the things that are aligned. You can go further and limit the number of “yes’s.” This is a great way in which to conquer overwhelm and stress. But, there is more.
Step #5 Build Margins and Boundaries
Aren’t margins and boundaries the same, you may ask? Possibly, but not the way we are using them here to empower you to conquer overwhelm and stress.
Margins are those daily times when you step back and breathe. You use that time to reflect, process, be renewed through prayer, course correct, and envisage new possibilities.
Think of a page without margins. It gets disorderly and is hard to read. Without margins, you keep going and before you know it, you have lost sight of what is important. Your life becomes “disorderly.”
So, how are boundaries different from margins? Boundaries serve a wider purpose. You use boundaries to put a limit on how much you do. One boundary you may set is to say that you do not do any work after 6.00 pm. Or, you determine that you will not get involved with things that take you outside your purpose. Yes. These steps are interconnected.
From this you will see that while having a boundary will facilitate your margins, you can have boundaries without having margins. Yet, you need both in this final step of your path to conquer overwhelm and stress.
Overwhelm and stress are real. However, you do not have to give in to them and in so doing, drown in them.
Know and keep in touch with who you are. Do the same for why you are hear. Recognize and live into your season. Use these three to know when to say, “no,” and when to say, “yes.” Then ensure that you have the margins and boundaries in your life that allow you to stay true to how you have aligned your life.
Can you conquer overwhelm and stress? You sure can with these five steps.
Click here for the handout that will guide you through this 5-step process.
How do you conquer overwhelm and stress?
Claire Annelise Smith,PhD, aka Dr. Claire, is the founder of Blazing Star Network, a Professional Training and Spiritual Coaching firm. She is also the author of multiple books and publications.
With two decades of executive experience under her belt, Dr. Claire understands the drive that keeps individuals going.
As an author, speaker, spiritual mentor and coach, Dr. Claire helps leaders organize their busy lives to have more time to connect with themselves, the people they love most, and God … without stress and guilt.