Follow this simple tip to reduce overwhelming stress
Today I’d like to share with you my #1 stress killer and method of combating being constantly overwhelmed. It’s no secret in today’s world stress is the norm and we’ve become overwhelmed 24/7. A quick Google search shows pages of hits from sources touting the effects of how stress and being overwhelmed impacts our health and leads to the development of diseases. Many say dementia, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, mental illness, and accelerated aging can all be caused by stress. Yet it’s difficult to take the time to acknowledge it and make positive changes in our lives to reduce stress.
Multitasking = More Pressure
When I got out of college and applied for jobs, the term “multitasking” was an essential skill to have on your resume. In fact, many of us probably tried to highlight this in a savvy way on our resumes in order to stand out from the competition.
“Excellent multitasking abilities, able to do 45 duties at the same time while making copies…”
“Proficient in 900 software programs and can collate while answering phones and doing cartwheels…”
OK, maybe not that creatively. If there was a unique way to say it we threw it on there. We all figured if employers thought we could do more than our competition could, we’d get the job.
Many people have published articles and books on how to be a good multitasker. To climb the corporate ladder, you needed to do more than the person in the cubicle next to you and you need to do it faster. Over time, as more women take on the role of managing the home and having a full-time job, this became even more crucial. How were we going to be able to do it all? We had to figure out how to multi-task like a mofo. So, in the ’90s and onward, we all tried to become a master of the multitasking superpower.
Strain leads to a state of constant overwhelming mayhem
But where does multitasking really get us? I thought I was more productive, but it only led to feeling like I had no control of my life. Do you ever feel like the image above, fighting off demons while trying to do 20 things at once? Examples of demons are emotional labor for the whole household, work obligations, bad coping mechanisms, toxic friends and family. They’re even your dreams and aspirations stuck in the back of your mind that never get a chance to be heard. No one told me I had to live my life this way, but it seems like I have. It’s the norm in society.
For years, I woke up every morning, slapped my huge bag of expectations, worries and obligations on my back and started my day. Yet every night, I’d go to bed with it still full, feeling like a failure. That gnawing feeling that I didn’t accomplish everything on my list would envelop me. I became overwhelmed and stressed all the time, which escalated into full-blown anxiety. I became unhappy and my health started to decline. Until I figured a way out of it.
How to combat stress and get out of the overwhelmed rut
It’s crazy simple. I do a brain dump every night.
Every night right before I go to bed I write down all the things I feel overwhelmed with. On the left side of the page, I record things I need to do, worry about, or what I’m stuck on for the next day. On the right side of the notebook I prioritize them by picking the 3 most important items on my list. The remaining items I prioritize by need and due date. I know that if I don’t get to them it’s OK.
As you can see, it’s nothing fancy. It’s messy. The key here is it’s a quick way to combat stress. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about everything I need to do or need to take care of. Doing this task every night gives me a sense of control. Which in turn, allows my brain to take a damn break and actually go to sleep. My mind is less stressed knowing it’s prepared for the next day. There’s no fear that I’ll forget something important in my family life or not know which project I should dive into at work. I’ve already thought about it and planned it.
As a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, this has been a vital tool my recovery from crippling anxiety and high stress levels.
It’s not rocket science, but it works
I’m not the first person who came up with this idea, and there are several variations of it out on the web. But if you’re looking for a quick way to combat stress, feel a bit better and less overwhelmed, grab a notebook, pen, and try it out. Give yourself permission to tackle only 3 items on that list the next day. And remember – multitasking your ass off – is NOT a good thing anymore.
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