It is September and many of us (including myself) are feeling overwhelmed. For those with kids, schools have started, which normally would be a huge relief, but for so many parents during Covid, its additional stress since kids are now homeschooled. For those without kids, you might feel overwhelmed by your work during Covid. Several companies are on a hiring freeze and some of you may be doing the work of two or more people. Also, if you are working from home, it may be challenging to know when to stop answering work emails, now that the line of professional and personal has been crossed. If you share a home with others, you may feel overwhelmed by the lack of privacy since everyone is working from home and schooling at the same time. If you live alone, you might be overwhelmed by the isolation, when you were used to socializing with co-workers and friends. Regardless of your situation, it’s a challenging time to say the least and our gut reaction is to feel over-powered.
How can we deal with this provocative tendency towards stress? First, you need to stop and know exactly what is stressing you out. Many times, my patients will tell me they are “stressed out”. When asked what is stressing them, its usually a number of ambiguous things. School, work, marital conflict. When all of this is “out of balance”, it can lead to stress. Its important to pin point the exact issue with school, work, and relationships. What is out of balance?
Once you have identified the stressor and what’s leading to the imbalance, you can tackle it. The hard part will be not tackling everything at once. When we try to get all parts of our life under control at the same time, it can lead to a stronger sense of being overwhelmed. So, create a tackle list and focus on the priority issues. What do you have the greatest control over? Start with that one and work your way down. Sometimes the simplest things can seem daunting, so set daily goals and check them off as you go.
If you have done this and you still feel overwhelmed, its time to reach out and delegate to someone who might be able to help you. If you can’t resolve a work conflict on your own, its okay to ask your boss for assistance. It is a sign of strength and leadership when we are able to lean on others. Our inner dialogue always tells us “don’t burden someone with your problems” and we end up feeling stressed, when honestly its selfish not to accept help from a friend or family member. Its important to assign roles to all members of your household. If the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and you are still working, reach out to your kids or roommate to help with it. Trade off tasks when you have more free time.
When you feel overwhelmed, remember the logistics of the situation. Stay calm, break down the problem in its simplest form, analyze a way to solve it, and apply the easiest solution first. If this does not work, reach out for help, either a friend or a professional. Remember to get plenty of rest, eat well, exercise, and give yourself free moments to be unproductive and reset.