Thursday, March 26, 2009

What to do when you're overwhelmed

In addition to all the work-related stress we're feeling right now, many people are overwhelmed by what's going on around them -- at work and at home. At The 36-Hour Day, I've offered up the five things I try to do when I'm feeling overwhelmed. The details are there, but here are the five tips, in a nutshell:

1.) Put it in perspective. What's important? Where do you really stand in the grand scheme of things? At the risk of sounding trite, one excellent way to do gain perspective is to cuddle your kids. Even if they’re too big to be cuddled (some of mine are), grab them, give them an embarrassing hug, shrug off the “Moooooom!” and then take a few minutes to remember what’s important.

2.) Take baby steps. Divide your day into hours, and if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, get through the day in five-minute chunks. The time will pass whether you’re constructive or not… might as well be constructive.

3.) Be gentle with yourself. Being angry with yourself doesn’t make things better, and there’s no need to add guilt to the mix. Cut yourself some slack, take a short break, give yourself a treat.

4.) Go to bed. If my head hits the pillow before midnight, I consider that early; before 11 p.m. is decadent. Just the thought of it makes me all giddy. Giddy is good for battling overwhelm.

5.) Look to the past. Have you been in this situation before? Has anyone you know been in it? It took me a while, but then I remembered what my own parents went through, back in the early ’80s. How did they handle it? I’ll have to ask them, but the bottom line is that they got through it. Which means that now, 25 years later, I will, too.

Have you been feeling overwhelmed? What helps you cope?

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