HOW TO FEEL LESS OVERWHELMED WHEN LIFE GETS BUSY
Life comes in seasons and some seasons are definitely busier than others. Whether it’s dealing with big life change or just a schedule that’s filling up gradually without you noticing it, it’s natural to feel stressed and tired when you’re trying to juggle it all. Check out this post for tips on how to feel less overwhelmed when life gets busy.
WHY WE GET BUSY
Sometimes I catch myself trying to do it all. I write about simple living and ways to make life easier and I do try to practice what I preach.
Yet I also have a tendency to try to do everything, or at least want to do everything, and do it all 100%. I’m an action-taker, problem-solver and perfectionist. My default response when things need doing and life gets busy is to put my head down and try to make it happen.
Sometimes, this approach is helpful. I’m pretty good at time management, being productive and motivating myself. However, there are a few downsides!
Trying to do it all can be exhausting and takes time, energy and oomph (my favourite technical term!) away from the things that really do need or deserve our attention.
HOW TO FEEL LESS OVERWHELMED
In all honesty, quite often I can’t meet my own expectations but over the years I’ve learnt that trying to do everything is, in fact, counterproductive.
It’s better to do some things really well rather than everything, badly, and sacrificing things along the way (peace, calm, health, wellbeing).
Doing everything is a recipe for giving yourself too much stress, too much on your plate and too little rest and peace for your body and mind.
As I’m writing this, we’re heading towards the end of the school summer holidays so I’m trying to prioritise the important things for right now – my kids and spending some fun and happy time with them.
I’m making that conscious effort I talked about above to prioritise them instead of running around doing all the things that I feel I should also be doing as well. These other things can wait.
Maybe you’re hitting a busy season, or set yourself some high expectations every now and then. Or maybe you just feel that if you let one of those spinning plates slow down, they’ll all come tumbling down?
If so, I hear you and you’re not alone!
Here are some little tips that I use if I’m feeling overstretched and overwhelmed when life gets busy. Have a read through and see if some could help you?
HOW TO FEEL LESS OVERWHELMED WHEN LIFE GETS BUSY
1. Assess what needs to be done
Reflect on all those things you feel you have or want to get done. Think about if it will really matter tomorrow whether you’ve done everything today?
If you don’t have time or energy to get everything done, choose just 3-5 things and write them down on your To Do list. Get them done, tick them off. Anything that you don’t achieve today, put them on your list for tomorrow. If they’re not done by the end of the week, let them go because perhaps they weren’t that important after all.
Suggested reading: How to write a To Do list to get stuff done
2. Choose your tasks wisely
The 80 20 rule is also known as the Pareto Principle. The 80 20 rule states that “80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action”. Putting it another way, the rule suggests that two out of ten items, on any general To Do list, will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together.
So, when you’re thinking about your task list, work projects, home admin or cleaning, choose tasks that will give you the biggest and most effective results. They’re not always the things that take up the most time! Choose your 20% carefully!
Suggested reading: 20 best time management tips
3. Say no sometimes
You can’t do all the things and be everywhere all at the same time, even though your diary and everyday life is asking you to be otherwise! Even if you’re great at multi-tasking, unless you can clone yourself and be in two places at the same time, at some point you’re going to have to make some decisions about what to do, where to go and who to see. When you do make these decisions, just remember that when you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else.
Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do, but generally choosing things that align with what you need and want will help you feel better. Perhaps that coffee invite could wait until next week if what you really need right now is an extra hour at home?
Suggested reading: How to simplify your calendar and be more intentional with your time
4. Prioritise carefully
When I think about the things that I do each week that I really love and value, it often boils down to the things that money can’t buy. Time waits for no one and prioritising the things that we most treasure in life is so important, but so easily pushed to the side. We get distracted by and focused on the things which take over our To Do lists or stress us out and weigh most heavily on our minds.
When life gets busy, it’s important to refocus and prioritise the things which we most value but which we often take for granted. Do something every day to honour your priorities including health, happiness, memories, family, love, good friends, personal growth. What are your priorities?
Suggested reading: 30 journal prompts for self-care
5. Be happy with good, not perfect
I’m a perfectionist and I like things to fit in neat little boxes and do everything to the best of my ability. Whilst it has many benefits, perfection is an exhausting mindset and can get in the way of many things. It can hold us back, stop us from doing things or make us disproportionately down and despondent when things don’t go right or we don’t perceive them as good enough.
Perfectionism can hinder our efforts to try new experiences, learn skills or take on challenges because we get caught up in thinking too much about getting it right and not about the learning or the journey itself. Don’t get caught up on chasing perfection as it doesn’t exist. ‘Good enough’ is good enough. A meal, a film, a walk in the rain, how clean your home is. Learn to love ‘good’ and life will feel much easier.
Suggested reading: How to write a morning gratitude list and why it matters
6. Don’t be afraid to make changes
Think about your why before doing something. It’s good to seize the moment and do things on a whim, but generally, it’s more rewarding to do things that add real value in some way. Don’t do things just because you’ve always done them.
For example, you could look at ways to make managing your home easier, take a break from an activity for a while and use the free time for something else and perhaps develop some daily habits that will better support you when life gets busy.
Suggested reading: 24 habits for your daily routine
7. Look after yourself
Looking after our inner environment helps us manage our outer environment better. When you’re feeling emotionally and physically stronger you can deal with problems better, focus and concentrate more and cope easier with the demands of daily life.
Take a moment to look after your mental health and physical health and make them a priority every day. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, perhaps just try some healthier meal options and a daily walk around the park or stretches in your own home. Little changes can make a big difference if you keep them up!
Suggested reading: 20 ways to declutter your mind
8. Change how you do things
Declutter your home, streamline your routines, establish healthy habits. Little tweaks here and there can make dealing with the big stressors in life seem easier. Decluttering and simplifying life are obviously my passion but it’s like that because I know the impact it can have on my health and wellbeing. It’s not about having a neater, tidier home (as lovely as that may be) or knocking everything off my To Do list (just not possible!). Instead, it is about making life easier.
Most of us have things to do, bills to pay, family to feed alongside work, school and many other commitments and responsibilities that come with normal life. Yet, if you can find ways to simplify the things you need to do, then you have more time, energy, space and love for the things that you want to do. So, what is it that you really want to do?
Suggested reading: 20 ways to simplify your life
9. Brain dump
When I’ve got a lot on my mind (both good and bad), I find it helpful to get everything down on paper. Once you can see it in front of you, you can prioritise and take action where you need to. Free up brain space, deal with the things that are worrying you, make plans for good times. Carrying too many thoughts in your mind leaves no space for other things. Read this post on how to brain-dump.
10. Take your foot off the pedal
Stop rushing, overstretching, achieving, pushing. Give yourself a little breather and listen to what your body needs. Is it sleep, a holiday, a hot chocolate, a cuddle with your dog, a giggle with the kids, a day in pyjamas? The world is unlikely to end just because you take it slow for a moment to recharge and reset but the world will certainly be a better place when you’re feeling ready to participate in it again! Read this post on why you need to slow down sometimes.
11. Switch things up
They say that a change is as good as a break. A change of pace and a change of scene do wonders for rejuvenating and giving us a fresh perspective. If you can’t get a holiday whenever you need it, what about going for a walk in a new place, going for a coffee somewhere you don’t normally stop at, change your hairstyle, swap your furniture around, get take-away. Step away from the norm and give something new a try.
12. Lose the guilt
Do you feel selfish or guilty if you do something for yourself? Think about it differently and see if you can replace the negativity of guilt with the positivity of compassion. How you think about things determines how you feel about them so tell yourself self-care is necessary, important, rightly yours and nothing to do with neglecting your responsibilities. You can look after yourself and still be a good parent/partner etc. In fact, you might be an even better one because of it! Read this post on 20 ways to look after yourself.
13. Create space
In most of my posts I find a way to bring decluttering and simplifying into the mix! Clearing your clutter brings instant space and calm, whether that’s in your home or in your schedule but that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it’s just the beginning. That space and calm gives you less stress, more energy and more time – more of which you can use for looking after yourself whenever and however you need it. Read here for more about decluttering your home.
14. Live and let live
I used to be a super-organised, perfectionist control-freak but, to be honest, it was exhausting. I now pick my battles and let things slide every now and then. I can support, guide and encourage others and change the things that are within my power to change, but I know when to switch off, say no or pull back. If something isn’t finished by the end of my day, then I’ll deal with it tomorrow. If the home needs a clean but my daughter wants to play a board game with me, then my daughter wins every time and the housework can wait. It’s about having defined boundaries, a clear vision of my priorities in life and wiggle room in case things don’t go quite as I’d like! Read this post on how to create boundaries.
15. Build awareness
None of the above could be done without a greater awareness of what I want from life and how to make the most of it. I don’t always get what I want (who does) but I certainly have more space, time and freedom to try to make things happen and enjoy them when they do. I know my goals, I listen to what my body needs. If my family needs me then I have time and energy for them, when my business needs me, I can be there for it too. A simpler life has given me a better balance and the balance can rise and fall depending on what needs me most. Read this post on why we need balance in life.
16. Do more of what lifts you up
Doing things that make you happy is possibly such an obvious way of being kind to yourself that you might not think to include it! I’m all for efficiency and productivity but we need laughter and fun in our lives too. Find things that make you smile or have you rolling around on the floor with laughter. Lean into those moments and do them as often as you can. If you’re struggling for ideas, check out this post on 20 ways to be happier.
I really hope these ideas on how to feel less overwhelmed when life gets busy encourage you. They’re just some little tips to help you feel calmer and more at ease even if your schedule is busy and your To Do list grows arms and legs.
Here are some other resources which might help if you’d like to explore ways of managing your time and looking after yourself when life is busy and your body and mind need a little less stress and a lot more space!
- How to find calm when life gets too busy – find space and peace
- How to create a simple evening routine – wind down from the day
- Simplify Your Self-Care – A 5-day email challenge designed to help you sustainably look after yourself so you can carry on looking after everyone else
- Simplify Your Life – a guided workbook with actionable challenges and reflective journal prompts to help you identify what clutters your life (and time) and find ways to create more space and flexibility.