Overcome the Overwhelm

Feeling overwhelmed? You’re NOT alone!

Most humans (and I would venture to guess ALL parents) feel overwhelmed at least some of the time, and especially during the holidays.  But what is overwhelm?  The dictionary defines it as “bury or drown beneath a huge mass.”  When most of us talk about feeling overwhelmed, we are not literally being buried or drowned beneath a huge mass, but the thoughts we think about our to-do list make it feel like we are.  So it’s our thoughts that make us feel overwhelmed.

The cool thing is that once we realize how we think about and prioritize our never-ending to-do lists, we can release MOST, if not all, of what people define as overwhelm.

Infinity and Beyond

Remember – We are eternal beings, so we can never get it “done.” 
You can stop stressing that you never get to the end of your to-do list.  You never will.  No one does.  Don’t let them tell you they do.  

It helps to remember your WHY.

Analyze each item on your list and ask, “Why do I choose to do this?”

You are at choice and you CHOSE to put those things on your to-do list.  If an item feels like it’s being imposed on your list, ask yourself WHY you are allowing it to be imposed.  Maybe you love someone that needs you to do it, or maybe it just has to get done.  Why does it have to get done?  So the bills get paid.  So the kids get an education.  So the relationship feels secure.  There is a WHY for every item on the list.

If you can remember why you want to do it, it won’t drain your energy like it does when you think you have no choice.  No one wants to feel they’re being forced to do anything, and that feeling of powerlessness drains our energy.  Any time we feel we “have to” (should) do something, or “need to” do something, it drains our energy.

Change your thoughts.

If you resent or dread doing an item on your list, you have at least three choices.  You can decide it does not really need doing and just ditch it.  You can delegate it to someone else.  Or you can change the way you think about it so it won’t drain your energy.

For example, if an item on your list is to dust and vacuum the house.  Why are you doing that?  Do you feel like you “should” because you have guests coming to dinner?  Does it need doing because the house is dirty?  Does someone else want it done?  Do you choose to do it because having a tidy home lifts your energy?

When we feel we “should” do something it’s usually because we fear others will judge us if we don’t do it.  We could choose this if we wanted to, but we do it because we will feel shame (around what others think) if we do not do it.  THAT drains the energy right out of your toes! Doesn’t it?

Needing to do it is not as draining as having to do it, but it still drains us.  There is a reason for it to get done (the house is dirty) but I still feel at the effect of circumstances, instead of in control of my choices.

Does that resonate for you? 
Don’t take my word for it, check in with your gut.  

Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do because it needed to be done?  Of course!  We all have.  We all know someone that works a job they don’t love because they need the paycheck.  Talk about energy draining.  If we are doing anything because we feel we have to, or need to, just adding it to our list drains our energy before we ever take action.

Don’t you feel most inclined to do it cheerfully when you are choosing to do it?  It seems like a quick easy chore that lifts our energy for our effort!  I like a tidy environment.  I feel most clear, focused and creative in a tidy, organized space.  It takes 10-15 minutes to do the dusting and run the vacuum, and then I FEEL BETTER!  

Yes!  And I have energy to spare on whatever I love to do!

Speaking of what you love to do…

Most importantly, how many items on your list answer the “why” question with “for the fun of it” or “because I enjoy it”?

If the answer to that is zero, don’t feel bad!  You’re not alone on this point by any stretch of the imagination.  Most of us tend to let go of what we want to do in favor of the ‘have-to-do’ and ‘need-to-do’ items. 

Why? Because many of us were taught that doing what we WANT before what we SHOULD makes us selfish.  It does not make us selfish!  It makes us happy.  It makes us resilient.  It makes us creative and thoughtful, and it energizes our lives.

Add something to the to-do list right now simply for the pleasure it brings.  Do something you love daily and just WATCH the difference it makes in your energy level!  At least add something once a week that you do just for the joy of it.

It can be anything you love.  Read a book.  Soak in a long hot bath.  Go to the movies and book dinner at a fine restaurant.   Avoid movies and restaurants so you can afford to travel.  Pick up that yoga practice you put down.  Write that book you’ve always wanted to write.  Go dancing once a week.  Create a three-minute dance party in your living room every day.

Whatever it is that makes your heart sing, add it to your calendar now. Make time for it. Make time for you, and there will be more time and energy for the to-do list!

Grow on!

Look at your “to-do” list and ask yourself, “Why do I choose to do this?”
Which items on your list can be ditched?
Which items on your list can be delegated? 
Name one activity that you enjoy tremendously that you have not done in a long time?
What is one activity that LIFTS your energy every time you do it?
How can you fit those activities into your schedule?
Why is it important for you to choose something just for the joy it brings?


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I hope this post helps you shift your thoughts enough to relieve some of that stress.  If not, consider hiring a coach to help you shift your energy from exhausted to energized!

I offer a FREE session to anyone considering hiring a coach, so we can discuss the ways that coaching can help, and see if partnering together would be of benefit for your situation.  If I am not the right fit for your coaching needs, I have a list of AMAZING certified coaches at this link.  

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