Overwhelmed and Exhausted
Today’s episode is all about how to support yourself when you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I’m feeling it. My husband is feeling it. Warrior women are feeling it. My sons are feeling it. This feeling of “Oh my gosh, not one more thing!”. Let me help you!
High Functioning Overwhelmed and Exhausted Women
What do you think when you read that? Do you identify as a high functioning woman? If you find yourself asking: “Why is this my responsibility?” or Why am I the one in charge?” then I’d like to offer you the High Functioning Badge. This badge can be helpful, in that, we get more done than most. We can achieve high standards and goals.
The challenge lies in learning the super important lesson that just because we can doesn’t mean we should. When we haven’t learned that lesson, we tend to over function in our lives. Since we often CAN add that one more task or do that one more thing, we think we should (so we do). Which leads us to a place of burnout, resentment and isolation. In other words. us doing it all has a high cost to our emotional and mental health.
And so….if you’re feeling that this week, look up before you go in that deep dark hole of despair. See me here offering my hand, looking you in the eye and saying I’ve got you, let’s go. Here are three steps that help me when I’m feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
1. Nothing Has Gone Wrong Here
First and foremost, I encourage us all to accept our feelings by practicing the thought: “Nothing has gone wrong here”. Leaning into believing the idea that you’re feeling exactly what you’re meant to be feeling. It’s all okay.
Sure it doesn’t feel good to feel overwhelmed or stressed or annoyed or frustrated and yet, when I stop and say something to myself like “Of course you’re feeling _______” a feeling of softness and support comes over me, as if a blanket of a hug is coming on me from the universe.
Undoubtably, many of us have been taught that being emotional is bad and we had better suck it up and get through it to be our best selves. Please refer back to the past recent episodes on emotional intelligence and toxic positivity. This way of thinking about uncomfortable emotions is not only incorrect, it’s hugely unhelpful to us when we’re feeling overwhelmed or about to lose it. Letting us feel what we’re feeling is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves.
In this first step, allow yourself to experience what you’re feeling. You’re not broken. Nothing needs to be fixed. Start to pay attention to when and how often you say the word should or how often you judge yourself for the feelings you’re having. Instead of thinking we should be feeling a different way, practice allowing it.
2. Break the Stress Cycle
Choose an action to break the stress cycle. Here are 3 of my favorites:
Yep, it’s as simple as it sounds: move your body. The stronger the feeling, the more intense the movement. Run up and down the stairs for a minute. Drop and do 10 pushups. Go stand outside if you’re inside. Or simply just stand up. It works. Don’t sit there telling me it doesn’t. Get up.
Hahahah – almost the opposite yet equally effective. One of my faves is the 3 breath stress release linked here.
3. Brain Dump/Thought Download
This is what it sounds like. Dump the sentences in your head out on paper. You don’t need to do anything with them; getting them out of your head and on to paper will help you feel less overwhelmed and exhausted. Further, please don’t sit there and tell me you will some day or that journaling doesn’t work for you. Of course it won’t if you’re thinking that. How about instead of resisting and telling yourself how it won’t work, you try it? Set an alarm for 60 seconds and dump the thoughts in your head out on to paper. Write what your brain is telling you. That’s it.
All 3 of these things will help. Do one or all 3. Tell me in the comments which you’ll try and your experience. The more breaks you take during the day to check in with yourself, to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and then do one of the 3 stress busters, the better you will feel.
3. Intentional Living
Step three may seem counter to the first two steps of ease and acceptance and yet, IS the way I maintain my happiness and love of the life I’m living. This is not the kind of scheduling where every minute is directed towards an efficient and productive task or activity. No way. Rather, this is about bringing intention into the scheduling of your days so that you are living lives in alignment with your values and goals.
Intentional scheduling is also about being present in the moments of your life. Schedule the things that are part of your life and your goals and then, when we’re doing them, do them. Whether it’s one of the more efficient tasks (writing something for work, studying for a test, or making a call you don’t want to make) or one of the more enjoyable tasks (relaxing in the park, reading a fiction book, surfing): when that time arises on your calendar, do it. Be all there. Keep your mind in the present rather than going to the future and all the thoughts of what else you have to do.
Gentle reminder: there will always be more to do. We must exercise the muscle in our brain to keep it on the thoughts we are thinking about the present. That is our power as homo sapiens sapiens, think about what you’re thinking about. No matter our age or our stage, we will feel the pull to grow and expand and the more deliberate and specific we get with our schedule, the planning of the life we are living, the more freedom and lightness we will feel.
For many of us, we are living lives we would choose again. Meaning: we have the job, the spouse, the habitat that we want. (If you don’t, get on my calendar please). And yet, even when we are doing what we want to be doing, life is still full.
Overwhelmed and Exhausted: Always More To Do
In any given day, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, there is always more to do. Whether this more to do is stuff we want to do or stuff others want us to do, it can still feel overwhelming and heavy. And yet, I maintain that nothing has gone wrong here. This is exactly what humaning is about. Human organisms are either growing or shrinking. For as long as we are here on earth, we will feel the pull to do more, be more, expand and grow. This is part of a life well lived, of the human journey and so….instead of sitting back and passively letting these thoughts of “there’s more to do” come into our head alllll day long, scheduling helps us control them.
Scheduling is all about planning your day and then, when you’re in your day and your brain does what we’ve programmed it to do, look to the future for things to worry and obsess and not feel good enough about, we use the power of our brain to say “I’ve got that planned. I’m doing this now” mental push up done. Try it.