As I type this, I am a little over it.
I’m tired, I helped out in every Easter service at church (that doesn’t make me a hero…but just saying) and I worked by usual day today.
So let me talk to myself, and you, about how to fix what I’m feeling. I think a lot of us can relate.
1. Drink WATER, like right now.
Go to the kitchen and get some water.
Have your water? Good.
Now drink it. All.
Dehydration is a powerful energy suck. And no, those 3 cups of coffee (or in my case 1 cup plus some Dr. Peppers) don’t count as water or any form of hydration. All of the aforementioned beverages are literally dehydrating you while you drink them.
Look it up, it’s true.
Having guzzled 16.9 oz. of water in the last 30 seconds I can honestly say I feel a little more awake and energized than I did when I started writing.
Am I bouncing off the walls?
Did the water make a difference?
Water is a HUGELY underestimated tool for energy and focus. So when you are feeling overly tired and over it all…drink water. Replenish your body before doing anything else.
2. Take a walk.
If you are feeling overwhelmed that LAST thing you should do is just dive right in to your work. That is a recipe for inefficiency, exhaustion, and eventual burnout.
What you need to do is STOP.
Take a walk. Breathe.
Human nature tells us when things get crazy, that we have to get crazy too. If the treadmill of work gets going faster, than we have to start walking faster to keep up.
I don’t buy that for a second.
When you are overwhelmed, it’s because your mind is cluttered. You have too much going on in the old brain box.
So in order to refocus and get control of yourself, you need to ‘reset’ everything. A nice walk is a brilliant way to do that.
3. Read Psalm 23
Yes, specifically THAT one.
One of my favorite authors is Rob Morgan. He’s a pastor outside of Nashville, TN and has a gift with words.
In his book called, The Lord is My Shepherd, he talks about Psalm 23’s ability to help in stressful situations. Towards the end of the text he mentions that by simply reciting the Psalm every day you can reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
Imagine that! God’s Word is a useful tool for life’s problems! (that was tongue-in-cheek)
David’s Psalm 23 isn’t long, but it wields incredible power in our lives, if we let it. So why not take just a few minutes, right now, and read it, slowly, out loud for yourself.
As you read, listen to how the Lord, so gently and perfectly takes care of you. He is indeed the good shepherd, even during times of stress and overwhelm.
4. Decide what is actually important. (Yes, there are a lot of things that aren’t actually important)
When you feel overwhelmed it’s often due to a lack of focus.
Now that you are insulted, please forgive me and then keep reading.
Of all the things you need to accomplish today, tomorrow, and the next day only a few of them REALLY matter.
If you need to organize the storage closet and send your volunteers this week’s Sunday’s lesson, only one of those actually matters right now.
Organizing the closet is important. But this Sunday will not suffer greatly if it doesn’t happen.
However, if your volunteers don’t get their lesson in a timely fashion…well, let’s just imagine the chaos that might create Sunday morning.
Ok…enough imagining. That was kinda scary.
Even though that example is kinda dumb, do you get my drift? Of all the things on your TO DO list only a few of them are of critical importance. There are at least a few, and probably way more then that, that would be wonderful to check off the old list. But at the end of the day, they aren’t as important, or as ‘mission critical’ as the other, more important stuff.
You might be arguing with me in your head right now. And it sounds something like this:
“If I don’t do the other less important stuff it will NEVER get done!”
It will either get done, get delegated, or get set aside altogether.
Once your most important tasks have been accomplished there is mental space for you to do the other stuff you’ve been trying to complete. You’d be surprised what you can get done when you aren’t weighed down by the things you know inside you absolutely HAVE to do.
Lastly, if it truly doesn’t need to be done, or at least to be done by YOU, then let it go.
Life is too short, and your time is too precious to worry about stuff that don’t really matter.
5. Do something simple, first.
The power of momentum in our lives is deeply underestimated.
I know for me, if my day starts off well, it tends to go well. If my day starts off slow and distracted, my day often often follows that course. The momentum of the morning predicts the rest of my day many times.
The same is true for your gigantic task list. Perhaps you aren’t starting first thing in the morning on it, but when you do, here’s what I want you to do.
Start with a meaningful task that won’t take long to complete.
In other words, get something done, quickly.
Use the power of momentum to get yourself going in the right direction. Having already accomplished one To Do list item you are a lot more likely to continue working on the next one, and the next one.
So start with a task that is simple and quick.
Kick start your progress with a quick win.
Put the power of momentum to work for you.
6. Set a course, not a goal.
I was planning on stopping at 5…but I thought of this one too.
Let’s say you have a project on your list called “Write a thank you note to all your volunteers.”
And let’s say that you have 50 total volunteers in your ministry. All of whom, need to receive a thank you note.
(Some of you are like, “I can only imagine what it would be like to have THAT MANY volunteers!!!!” …. I hear ya!)
Instead of focusing on getting 50 thank you notes written, decide how long you are going to write, and make that amount of time your goal.
For us humans, it’s much easier and way more manageable to set a goal of:
“I’m going to write for the next 25 minutes…”
“I’m going to write 50 thank you notes…..”
I can’t remember the exact term, but our minds work much better when we know a very specific ending point (25 minutes in this case) versus a vague and less concrete goal (50 thank you notes).
It’s not that we don’t understand the number 50. It’s that our mind can’t see all the steps as clearly, and there is a lot of unknowns in “writing 50 thank you notes.” Things like:
– Will I get distracted
– Will my hand get tired
– Will I have to go to another meeting
– How long is it going to take
– and on and on.
Just think about it for yourself. What causes more anxiety for you? The goal of:
– Working for 25 minutes on Thank You notes
– Writing 50 thank you notes.
For me, it’s definitely the latter.
I’d encourage you to try this little trick. For me, it works wonders.
So there it is…
6 simple decisions you can make to hopefully conquer the overwhelm and get back to the life you love. Everyone deserves to be able to do their best work and one of the keys to having that opportunity is to eliminate the mental distractions that overwhelm and stress create.
What else do you use to conquer stress and overwhelm? What have you found effective in your own life?Share this post: