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A Simple Tip to Reduce Overwhelm and Get More Done

A Simple Tip to Reduce Overwhelm and Get More Done

Do you feel like your ‘to do’ list is out of control?

Maybe you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed just thinking about all the things you need to do in a day?

So many of the parents that I support are feeling this way and I wanted to take a moment to share a practical tip for reducing overwhelm so that you can get things done.

It's easy to get caught in the loop of exhaustion and overwhelm isn’t it! We see the ‘to do’ list getting bigger, so we try harder to get it all done. And then because we are working harder, we get more tired. And the more tired we get, the more time and energy it takes to do the same things. And then we feel overwhelmed because we are trying so hard but don’t seem to be getting enough done. And so the vicious cycle of exhaustion and overwhelm begins. 

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the demands of life are real and that exhaustion and overwhelm is NOT because you aren’t trying hard enough. All of the families I support face higher than usual demands over long periods of time. However, rather than accepting exhaustion and overwhelm as just your lot, I want to put it to you that you deserve to feel nourished and supported even when demands are high. 

Rest can feel like a bit of a unicorn for many of the parents in my programs. I totally agree, if it was that easy to rest, you would already be doing it. And so, one of the things that I love to do in my work is connect people with their ‘everyday’ superpowers for renewing their energy in the face of high demands. 

Recently, we’ve been doing this in my programs by creating a ‘to be’ list and not just a ‘to do’ list. What I mean by that is that we can get so caught up in the ‘doing’ that we forget about what we need for our ‘being’. And this ‘being’ list or ‘to-be’ list is what supports us to feel resourced and nourished. What might be on your ‘to be’ list will depend on your personal preferences.  As an example, mine currently includes a few minutes of playing guitar and singing, hula hooping (badly), staring at the sky or the clouds, spending time with my feet on the earth and making sure I stop to eat and drink. While they don’t sound like much, even small amounts of time doing something that feels good to you can have a big impact on your energy and wellbeing - hence the tag ‘everyday’ superpowers.

Weaving between the 'to do' list and the 'to be' list allows me to be more efficient and effective. I can bring a little more energy, a little bit more enthusiasm, a little bit more confidence back into the to-do list. And while it doesn't get rid of the list of daily demands, together, those little moments of renewal start to shift the dynamic and the balance. In turn, breaking the cycle of exhaustion and overwhelm then allows people to look at their ‘to do’ lists with fresh eyes and make more informed decisions about what to focus their energy on (aka things that are meaningful and important to them and not just what everyone else thinks they 'should' be doing).

As one of the Mums in my programs reflected:

I’ve learned so much that makes sense about energy expenditure when fatigued, and the impact on my ability to function. This, in turn, has led to changes in my everyday life that leave me energised, with more to give, and feeling my time is valuable as well.

Do you already have a ‘to be’ list? Are there activities in your everyday life that support you to feel resourced and nourished? I love hearing from people, so feel free to email me or send me a message and let me know.

About The Author:

Rachel Stefaniak is an Occupational Therapist with a fire in her belly about the rights of families raising a child with a disability. She is committed to connecting families with practical strategies that respect the demands they face and align with their values and preferences, so that they can find relief from stress, exhaustion and isolation, have more ease, feel more connected and in control and confidently support the whole family to thrive.

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