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It’s been quite the week and I admit, there were moments when I felt overwhelmed. Work deadlines were relentless. Family issues needed to be attended to and there was little time to exercise self-care. But what happens when you allow a rigorous pace to get the best of you?

Mentally, you are slower, sometimes forgetful or even confused. Other times, you have trouble concentrating because there is too much on your plate and your mind races from thing to thing. We get distracted, don’t problem-solve well and feel fatigued.

The first question to ask when overwhelmed is, can I take anything off my plate? Is a big project about to be over or can I delegate something to someone else? Can I ask for help to reduce the load? If not, can I break a task down into manageable parts?

A strategy I find helpful when I get that overwhelmed feeling is to simply stop when the day is done. If I can’t get it all in and I have worked hard, I can pick it u tomorrow when I am fresher. Or sometimes, I just say no to another thing even though I know I can do it. If I need space to breathe, boundaries are a good thing.

Another way to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed is to let go of perfectionism. I can’t always do something the exact way I would like because I have too many other things pulling at me. But I can complete a task, maybe not perfectly, but good enough to move on to the next thing. While I don’t like the idea of not always giving my  best effort, there are times that it is not realistic. During those times, move on and accept that you can’t do everything perfectly.

Related to letting go of perfection is making assumptions that somehow the sky will fall if you don’t get something done. Someone may be unhappy, frustrated because they have to wait for you or even impatient, but when your plate is too full, something has to give. And we don’t want it to be your health! Letting go of the assumption that everything is equally important and the bottom will fall out if it isn’t done, can be freeing. I am not saying it’s OK to become a slacker, rather doing your best may mean you can’t get to it all. And that is OK when you are overwhelmed with too much to do. Prioritize. Delegate. And work at a pace that won’t kill you.

So much of reducing feelings of being overwhelmed has to do with good time management, prioritizing tasks and knowing when to delegate. When you’ve done all of that, set healthy boundaries around your time and make your expectations realistic. Now, take a breath and relax –at least for a few minutes.

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