How to keep your sanity on the days when your tasks and duties are piling up in an unusually intimidating way? I recently found myself in a situation where I had to quickly find a way to manage my anxiety and frustration, suddenly having much more things to take care of that I am used to. I was working for 3 clients at a time, one of which was new, and I did not want to let anyone down. Here is the mental survival kit I have developed, that has helped me find grace amongst all the turbulence.
1. Accept the consequences
The biggest issue with the busy days for me personally is anxiety, this fear of not getting things done which just freezes you. To the point that you get stuck in the indecisiveness, not knowing where to start and what to prioritize. I find the most important step to be accepting the consequences you fear.
Nothing is worth you working yourself up into a burnout, a mental or physical collapse. Accept that you are doing your best and let go of what can happen. When you acknowledge that are doing your best (and it doesn’t mean complete all the tasks), you can relax, get into a receptive mode and just see where it takes you. As it is not on you.
Whatever situation has created this outburst of responsibilities, it is what it is. If it feels like it is too much for one person to handle, maybe it is. That’s when we need to let go of the idea that it is the end of the world if we fall short. Accept the consequences of not handling all of it perfectly, and don’t just accept it to yourself.
2. Be honest
Speak up about your struggle with your teacher, family member, colleague, or supervisor. Do not pretend like everything is okay and leave them in the dark. People may offer you help or release you from some of those responsibilities. Moreover, if you do happen to miss something this will not come as a surprise, as they would have known that you were struggling.
3. Do nothing.
This is the hardest one and one of our most common self-sabotage techniques. Feeling like you cannot stop for a minute to make sure you use all of your time, you may think you are avoiding those consequences you are afraid of, but actually you are making them more likely to happen. Not giving yourself a break you are setting yourself up for mistakes. Taking those 10-20 minutes for simply sitting or lying in silence can do magic for your inner peace.
It is this inner turbulence that makes us mess things up when we are overloaded. It is usually not even the overload itself. I believe that if we approach these busy days from a space of clarity and calmness we will find solutions instantly. Instead, these solutions in our mind are muted by our anxiety screaming: “It’s over! It’s the end! This is gonna happen now and that is gonna happen if I don’t manage. What do I do? How did I get here?”
Silence your ego acting dramatic in these moments (still just trying to protect you). Switch off all your noise making devices, close your laptop, dim the lights, put your phone on airplane mode, and sit with yourself. Observe your thoughts and focus on your slow breathing instead. Allow yourself not to think those thoughts for these 10 minutes. This is the best gift you can give to your overheated mind, and it will reward you with clarity and sharpness.
If you can’t just stay still by yourself, follow your favorite meditation or another calming healing practice on YouTube, for example. Go for a walk. Yes, even in the midst of all these deadlines, gives yourself just under a half an hour.
4. Do your best with prioritizing
Looking at your million things to do and trying to prioritize you are probably trying to come up with a formula of ranking them all in order of importance and urgency. This can be difficult in normal conditions but an overworked brain can hardly accomplish this. This is when you let go of perfectionism and decide to just pick any task.
This means you might pick not the best task to do first, and maybe even the least important one, but at least you got going. And that is exactly what doing your best means. Let go of the idea of coming up with a perfect plan of handling this busy day. Just start doing things one by one. And then pick whichever next thing, and whichever next.
And when it is time to eat or sleep, you do that. Because depriving your body of its fuel you once again increase chances of mistakes and those consequences you fear. And if you feel like you do not deserve sleep and food because of your tasks, refer to step 1 and step 2.
5. Do you choose yourself or your tasks and duties?
I have spent so many nights studying till 7-9 am, going to university looking like a dead person, completely pale from practicing that for several days in a row. But now I love myself, now I put myself first. No exam or task is worth me treating my body this way. When it’s 2 am I stop whatever I’m doing and choose to rest. Interestingly, I am still getting everything done with this mentality.
When you put yourself first, the Universe applauds you for that, and gifts you beautiful opportunities, changes, and blessings. So don’t fear the consequences. If you being overwhelmed leads to some changes then it was meant to be. It was not because you failed, it was because you were doing your best and what had to happen happened. Trust the divine plan for you.
Own your busy days, hold your head up high, nourish your body, give your mind rest it is craving for, and you will accomplish everything you are meant to accomplish. It’s a promise.
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Photos: Anna Demianenko via Unsplash