“Help, God! I’m overwhelmed by the pile of tasks on my plate!” I cried out to the Creator one morning. “I want to finish the new book I’m working on, teach more workshops, and continue writing weekly reflections. But the tsunami of work, household chores, family commitments, and other obligations are drowning me. I’m struggling to stay afloat. The undertow of life’s never-ending demands keeps dragging me down.”
Hoping to find sage advice, I took my lament to Marie, my spiritual mentor, the next day. She became the voice of God I needed to hear.
“Feeling overwhelmed by life’s demands is a normal, common experience,” Marie said.
“But how do you deal with it?” I asked. “How do you stop the tsunami from drowning you?”
“There are a number of tools we can use to help manage and alleviate the stress that accompanies feeling overwhelmed by life,” Marie said.
Here’s the ones she suggested:
Notice how your body tenses and your emotions boil over like a steaming teapot ready to explode when the tsunami hits you. Name that feeling as simply being overwhelmed. When we name the emotion for what it is, it loses its power. It feels manageable.
Change the Channel
Then, like changing the channel on a television, calm your mind and body by using a positive, life-giving phrase as a mantra. Place your hands together on your chest near your heart, take a few deep breaths, and repeat words like:
Breathe peace. Be still. Easy does it. I’m safe. God and I have this. I’m doing the best I can right now and that’s good enough. This too shall pass. I’m courageous. One step at a time.
When we replace negative thoughts and emotions with positive words and affirmations, we rewire the neurons in our brains and open our hearts to calm ourselves. In doing so, we access the inner peace and guidance we need to let the tsunami pass through.
Pray Your Calendar
Take time each morning to sit with God in the quiet and reflect. Bring to the Creator your feelings of being overwhelmed and ask for guidance. Invite God to help you create a to-do list for the day by asking, “What is the work you have for me to do today?” Then write down the tasks you feel the God-nudge to accomplish that day. Notice how praying your calendar lets you and God work together as a team.
Create a Master Task List
Free-floating anxiety often arises when we fear we’ll forget something that needs to be done. To stop the tsunami of thoughts, take a sheet of paper and write down all the tasks and responsibilities bouncing around in your head. List everything that comes to mind, however big or small. Add to your master list whenever a new task arises so it moves out of your head and onto paper (or your favorite device).
Prioritize and Organize
Prioritize your master list by numbering the items based on importance and deadlines. Then create a daily or weekly schedule to allocate time for each task. Write down what day you plan to accomplish each job. If they don’t get done, no worries, just move the unfinished tasks to the next day. Breaking things down into organized, bite-sized steps allows you to feel more in control of your daily life.
Ask for Help
Sometimes we become so overwhelmed by life we can’t figure out how to plan or organize all our tasks. The tsunami overtakes us. If that happens, sit down with a trusted partner or friend and ask them to help you sort out what needs to be done and how to do it. By seeking help from others, we gain an objective viewpoint that can become a lifesaver.
Set Realistic Goals
Avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Be honest about what you can realistically accomplish within a given time frame.
Learn to Say No
It’s okay to decline additional commitments when you’re already feeling overwhelmed. Protect your time and energy by saying “No”when necessary.
Take care of your physical and mental well-being. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Set aside time to unclutter and organize your workspace so it feels inviting. Practice mindfulness, deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help reduce stress and bring a sense of calm.
Dumping your overwhelming thoughts and feelings by writing them in a journal can help move the negative energy out of you so you can think more clearly. You might write your thoughts as a prayer to God or as a lament, accepting your feelings without judgment. Simply writing things down can release the anxiety and fear you’re experiencing.
Get Off the Pity-Pot— Remind Yourself: You’re a Victor Not a Victim
Our culture often reinforces a victim mentality that spills over into our emotions when we get hit with life’s challenges. Identify when you’ve slipped into victim mode. Then refuse to wallow in the negative sea of self-pity by looking back over your life and noticing how strong you’ve been over the years. Remind yourself that you’re a survivor. Together, you and God have endured much and, with Divine Grace and guidance, you’ve become resilient. You and the Creator will push through the challenges facing you and get to the other side.
Break Tasks into Smaller Steps
Large tasks can intimidate. Break them down into smaller, more manageable steps, and focus on completing one step at a time. Remember how you eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
Delegate tasks to others. You don’t have to do everything on your own. When appropriate, seek help from friends, family, or colleagues. Or pay someone to lend a hand.
Trying to do too many things at once can contribute to feeling overwhelmed. Multitasking is inefficient and can cause us to make mistakes. Focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention.
Allow yourself breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Taking short breaks can actually improve your productivity and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. If necessary, take a nap. Things look much better when your inner battery is charged.
Learn to Detach and Let Go
Accept you can’t control everything. It’s okay to let go of things that are beyond your control and focus on what you can change. Remember the words of the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to change the things I can and to let go of the things I can’t control.”
Remember to Have Fun
A wise sage once said, “You don’t stop having fun when you grow old. You grow old when you stop having fun.” Enjoy your life, stop being so serious, and play like a child. Your soul with thank you.
Remember that feeling overwhelmed is a normal part of life, and everyone experiences it at some point.
It’s important to find those strategies that work best for you and make them a consistent part of your routine.
In addition to the spiritual tools noted above, use this Quick Release when you feel overwhelmed:
-Stop what you’re doing
-Take a deep breath
-Ask God for guidance
-Then listen to the Inner Voice of Love and Wisdom as it reveals the next best step for you.
With guidance from God “(G)ood (O)rderly (D)irection” and your spiritual toolbox in hand, you can and will overcome life’s tsunamis.
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