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Overwhelmed? Here’s how to keep your head above water

DESPERATE MOM
Tatyana Dzemileva - Shutterstock
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These 3 tips can help keep you sane during those particularly crazy seasons of life.

Between school starting, multiple kids in multiple sports, and work ramping up in our busy season, it’s safe to say I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed. In fact, this time of year is overwhelming for lots of parents, and it’s something I’ve experienced in regular intervals over the last two years. So it’s time to remind myself (and you) of the things I’ve learned about how to navigate the crazy seasons in life without losing my mind or damaging my relationships…

1
Stop multitasking

If you’re anything like me — or most people, for that matter — the busier you get, the more you try to get done at the same time. There have been days when I’ve tried to answer text messages while I’m on the phone waiting in line at school pick up. Guess what happens to all three things? They don’t get done well … and usually, don’t get done at all. I don’t give a person on the other end of the phone the attention I should, and later I can’t remember what was discussed or agreed upon during the phone call. My text messages get half written, and worst of all, those precious few minutes of connection with my kids right after school fall by the wayside.

I know by now that multitasking is a myth. But it’s still tempting to try and fit just one more thing in … except, you can’t. You can’t fit one task inside the time you’ve dedicated to another. It doesn’t work like that. One goes undone, while the other suffers in quality. You end up spending more time trying to re-do things that were half-completed in a “multitasking” mode than you would have if you just had done the things one at a a time.

2
Don't keep your phone in your pocket

I discovered this year that I need an extra level of discipline not only to keep myself from multitasking, but also to force myself to be fully present in the moment. When my to-do list is long, my mind starts going at warp speed. Even if I’m trying to focus on one task, my mind is often jumping ahead to the next one, and then the next one. I find myself glancing at my phone to make sure I have these tasks in my to-do list or on my calendar. And even though I’m not actually trying to accomplish them at the moment, it ends up being just as distracting as multitasking. It pulls me away from the present moment in the present task.

When it comes to my kids, it’s crucial that I leave the phone on the counter or in my room so that when I’m helping them with homework, I’m not constantly glancing at my phone. Ditto with bedtime — when I’m reading them a story or singing them songs or praying with them, I have to leave my phone in another room entirely to give myself (and them) the gift of my full attention. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s so easy to let your attention wander from the things that matter the most. Do yourself a favor and physically limit your distractions in order to pay complete attention to what is happening in this moment.

3
Invest in self-care

 

When I’m going 1000 miles an hour in multiple different directions, it’s easy to let my own needs take a backseat. But one thing I’ve learned is that if I don’t get my workout in, I’m pretty much incapable of thinking clearly and writing an effective workout for someone else. Same thing with sleep – when I shortchange myself my sleep because I’m trying to get everything done the night before, my work the next day ends up suffering. It’s not just the next day, either — everything I try to accomplish when I’m exhausted takes twice as long. The quality of my work is diminished and so is the quality of my thinking.

When life ramps up, I know that in order to get through it, my investment in my own health and well-being needs to ramp up with the same intensity. It’s simply impossible to pour yourself into anything else – your family, your work, or both — if you have nothing to give. So make sure you take care of yourself first by being active, eating well, and getting enough sleep. This is the most important thing you can do to survive the overwhelming seasons in life.

 

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