This blog is for anyone who is over stressed, over worked, over scheduled, and overwhelmed. This post may be helpful for anyone trying to be everything to everyone and feeling like they are not doing any of it very well. I have felt this way many times!!!
When Johnathan was in pre-K, I decided that we needed counseling. As a young single Mother, I needed some help on how to deal with a highly energetic, strong-willed and sometimes angry child. During one of the sessions, the therapist asked me about my typical week. As I gave the details of working full-time in a very male dominated industry, starting a college degree, helping with Johnathan’s athletics, taking care of my house, and trying to be a good friend and family member. I broke down in tears. I was stressed out and overwhelmed. The more I tried to do, the more I felt like a failure.
My parents told me that I could be anything and everything as long as I worked hard at it. What they failed to tell me was that it could be exhausting and overwhelming! I thought I could be Wonder Woman, Super Woman, Betty Crocker and Tim Allen all wrapped in one. In doing so, I felt guilty all the time. I felt guilty about work when I was at home. I felt guilty at home when I was at work. I tried to be the best at everything but I felt like I was failing at everything. In reality, I wasn’t.
The therapist said that she thought I was one of the most amazing, talented, and strong women she had ever known. She said that she wished that I could see myself through her eyes, I only needed to learn one important lesson. Drum roll please, this is the best advice I have ever received… Be present in the moment you are in. Be present – give whatever you are doing your complete attention.
It works! When I learned to focus more on the task at hand, rather than doing it halfway and thinking about a thousand other things at the same time, I felt better. Sure, I am the Queen of multitasking and scheduling but it only goes so far. Devote time to each of your tasks, allow time for interruptions, and focus. Then move onto to your next task or role. In doing so, you will feel like you have accomplished more with less and have greater sense of satisfaction!
When I got home from work, I asked Johnathan (and then later his daughter Meghan) to give me 5 minutes to change my clothes, then I would be there for them. I would give him/her my undivided attention for 15-30 minutes. Then I would get him/her started on a project in the same room I was in – either homework, drawing, or better yet, helping with the household chores. Children can help do many chores – load the washer or dryer, sweep the floor, fold towels, water plants, set the table, help cook, etc…. Yes, they won’t do it exactly as good as we can do it, but it will be good enough. They will love being a “big kid”. I learned the hard way, if I didn’t give him/her positive attention when I got home, they would act out in order to get my attention, and no good would come of it. In reality, the same can be said for children, teenagers and adults – often negative attention is better than no attention.
To make it even more challenging in today’s world, now we have to compete with the electronic leash (cell phone, tablet, laptop and the like). These are an added form of time consuming distractions!
I believe that the greatest gift I can give someone or something is my undivided attention. I believe the greatest gift I can give myself is to simply be present in the moment I am in. I can be anything I set my mind to, just not all at once, and that is good enough.
What is the best advice you ever received? How do you deal with the stress of being overloaded?
….. And life goes on.