Everyday life is stressful, but how well do you handle it when life gets really crazy? Maybe work is suddenly more busy. Maybe your family life just got more complicated. Or, maybe, like me, you invited the madness in?
What do you do when life feels like a crazy carnival ride and you just want to get off?
Sometime the healthiest thing you can do is to admit defeat. Something I did recently.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve lived in chaos. Admittedly, much of it I chose for myself. Let’s see, in the last six week I’ve…
Let’s see… in the last six weeks my family and I have:
- adopted two puppies (they are 4 months old now)
- taken a 3 trips out of town for work
- constructed crazy Halloween costumes
- hosted a fund raising event
- celebrated our girls’ 11th birthday
- completely overhauled my website and social media sites (click to see it!)
… all while trying to keep pace with all of the regular day-to-day stuff such as the girls’ middle school homework, Girl Scouts, work, etc.
Oh, and did I mention we are renovating our kitchen too?
Yep, recently as our guests we coming in the front door for the girls’ birthday dinner, the painters we headed out the back door!
It all came to a head as I tried to figure out how I was going to pull together a Girl Scout event for next weekend. The truth is, I couldn’t.
Sure I could have worked like crazy and managed to put together something reasonable for the 100 or so girls who would attend, but I wouldn’t have been happy with the result and it would have taken a significant toll on my family and on my health. That level of stress just isn’t healthy.
So I did something unprecedented. I admitted defeat! I sent out an email to the other leaders simply explaining I had to much on my plate and couldn’t do the event.
What happened next was amazing.
First, I felt significant relief. Taking that away made everything else easier to manage.
Next came the replies. Here are just a few:
- “I HAVE to tell you, my first, gut reaction was … RELIEF!! I was really looking forward to this, but am soooooo overwhelmed with “stuff” right now I wasn’t sure how I was going to juggle it.”
- “PLEASE do not feel guilty. I can tell by your message you DEFINITELY made the right choice.”
- “I am glad you are taking care of yourself:-)”
- “I am proud of you for drawing the line in the sand. Too often we just take this stuff on and sometimes it is just too much. Especially this time of year.”
While I worried about being embarrassed or judged by my fellow leaders, I should have known better. Admitting defeat was the best thing I could have done.
Here are some additional tips to help when you just want to say “Stop!”
- Quit “awfulizing” and do SOMETHING: When you feel like hiding under the covers and can’t quite get motivated to do anything, do something. Dwelling on the difficult will sap your energy. Focus on what is possible, start with something small, celebrate getting it done, and then move on to the next small task. Momentum of small successes will pull you forward.
- Delete the word “should”: What do you tell yourself you “should” be doing? Take a close look at what is on your to-do list and calendar. Is everything on it really necessary? Do you really need to do everything today, this week, this month, or at all? The relief of deleting even one item is enormous and energizes you to tackle the really important things.
- Celebrate: If you manage to get things done, take a moment to celebrate. Sometimes getting up, dressed, and out the door is an accomplishment for the day, don’t overlook it! Take a deep breath and give yourself a little credit.
- Be Good Enough: Sometimes good enough is good enough. Could I have made the sandwiches for the girls’ birthday party myself? Sure, but I didn’t really have the time (or access to my kitchen) and nobody really noticed except me. When things are crazy, getting it done is often as good as getting it perfect.
- Be Honest: If things aren’t going to be perfect, or up to your usual standards, say so. Let people know your situation, and manage their expectations as well as yours.
- Get Real Help: If you have to hover over a task you hand to someone else, you aren’t really accepting help. Yes, we hired professional painters, I don’t stand over them and suggest which brush they should use. Find someone you trust and be honest about what you need. Then, of course, be grateful and gracious!
So, is it time for you to admit defeat? Have you taken on too much and need to say, “Stop!”? Be brave, admit you aren’t perfect, take a deep breath, and make some space for taking care of yourself, too.
Eliz Greene works busy people to improve heart health, so they can work well, feel better, and stress less.
She is a heart attack survivor and the author of the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart as well as 3 other books on wellness. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs and is a sought-after wellness & stress management speaker.
If you are planning a women’s wellness program, workplace wellness program or programs for healthcare professionals check out EmbraceYourHeart.com to see if Eliz would be a good fit with your organization.