When we face overwhelm and stress it makes everything we need to do more difficult. It becomes hard to focus and concentrate because our mind is being pulled in many directions.
When I had a regular job I was good at getting things done, often well ahead of schedule. Now that I work for myself I often wonder why I still haven’t achieved the big thing on the list, you know the one I mean? The tough one that will make everything else easier.
We do the thing that we find the easiest. I can play around creating memes and pretty pictures until midnight and not have made a single follow up call all day. Working on my computer is comfortable and easy. Facing a call that may lead to rejection, not so much. So the day rolls around and I still have that scary thing to do and it waits for another day.
Brian Tracy says we should “Eat That Frog” In his book of the same name. He suggests that each morning we should do the thing that we don’t want to do and get it out of the way. The analogy being that if we had to eat a slimy live frog each day, it would be better to get it out of the way first thing, rather spend all day looking at it and allow the dread of it to ruin our day.
So what can we do?
Everyone has the same amount of hours in the day, even if some of us have more of them to ourselves.
Stress becomes more powerful when our mind is cluttered. When we desperately have to do something it can be more difficult to get it done, because we panic and can’t think straight. Have you ever lost your wallet or your keys and suddenly found that you can’t focus or calm yourself to look for them? Or tried to call someone when there is an emergency that takes you into flight or fight mode? You might have then struggled to remember the number or how to find it.
When we experience stress, our system goes into energy saving mode and our focus becomes our protection. We may have locked ourself out of our house, but on another level we are back in survival mode, our unconscious mind wants us to run for our life. So the answer to stress and panic is to be calm… Easier said than done I hear you say.
Stress can make little things appear huge
Last week I needed to call a government agency to solve a time sensitive issue. Having already called once and got someone who had apparently got out of the wrong side of the bed, or maybe she was stressed too. I was then cautious of calling back and dreading getting another grumpy representative. The more I kept putting it off the bigger the problem seemed. I took hold of myself and thought about the person on the other end of the phone. I presented my best self to get the answers I needed. The new representative was friendly and approachable and helped me solve the problem. Lowering my own stress levels before the call, led to my ability to create rapport and get the problem solved. I ate the frog and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
Are you stressed because you:
Feel you don’t have enough time?
Have trouble prioritizing?
Don’t want to do the thing you must do?
Are afraid to do the thing you must do?
When you have figured that out it is time to look at what you can let go of. Trying to do everything and not giving yourself space to breathe is a huge mistake. Take a look at your calendar and schedule everything you normally do and want to do in a week. Notice where the gaps are. You may find it useful to color code it.
When I looked at my productivity, I discovered that though I was busy, I achieved less than I wanted to. I spent time watching TV programs I don’t care about and wasted more hours scrolling online.
I also did a lot of overthinking and felt guilty that I wasn’t doing what I needed to around the house. You may have noticed that cooking can take a LOT of time. Yet if we get organized in advanced it is less so. I also forgive myself for not making fancy meals when I have too much to do. Most vegetables take care of themselves with some olive oil and salt when baked in the oven.
Look at your week and ask yourself
What do I have to do that is non-negotiable?
Is there something I can let go of that is not serving me?
What could I do more of?
What can someone else help me with?
And most important
Avoid comparing yourself with others. Many of the people who look like they have it all together are stressing and worrying like the rest of us.
Do something for yourself that you can look forward to
Create a system of rewards for when you have achieved something, they don’t have to be big.
And If you are currently feeling overwhelmed, do something nice for yourself even if you don’t feel like you deserve it. Because you do.
Check out my relaxation audio for an easy way to let go of your stress.