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Change: I’m done with being overwhelmed

How often do you feel overwhelmed? Is it daily, weekly or only occasionally? When we are working with partners and coalitions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that needs to be done in order to successfully work together well. In this season of tremendous change, increased needs, reduced funding and continued uncertainty, it is even more possible to become overwhelmed. When we include our lives outside of coalition and partnership-building work – family, friends, households, hobbies, recreation, community service and self-care, the likelihood of becoming overwhelmed is even greater. And for some of us, it’s easy to let everyone else’s needs take priority over taking care of ourselves (spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially). As a result, we stay in a place of being overwhelmed and unable to be who we really want to be! As we begin the fourth quarter of the year, I encourage you to join me in taking three actions to move from overwhelmed to overflowing (ok so maybe not quite there – but in that direction!) :).

  1. Stop. Think about the things that keep you in a place of overwhelm and practice doing things differently. Here are a few ideas on things you may want to stop: Saying yes to whoever asks you to do something for them; saying yes without pausing first; reading email before you have taken care of what is most important on your list; trying to do it all yourself; working all week and all weekend to get it all done; being grumpy with those you love the most because of how overwhelmed you are; estimating that it will only take you two hours to do a project that will likely take five hours; being the one to take responsibility for a “group project;” checking social media; being critical of yourself for not being able to “do it all.” Stop _____________ (what do you know you need to stop in order to move away from a place of overwhelm for you?)
  2. Start. Think about the things that may help you have a better rhythm and move away from a place of overwhelm. Here are a few ideas on things you may want to start: Saying “no” without needing to have a “good reason;” saying yes to self-care so that you can care well for others; implementing your ideal week; saying yes to blocking time on your calendar or diary to do what you have said “yes” to already; keeping that commitment to your blocked time; thinking of what only you can do well; developing a list of the types of things other people could do; asking for help; creating more realistic deadlines; taking breaks even though you don’t think you have time for a break; taking time to rest and enjoy those who are most important to you. Start __________________ (what else would you like to start in order to move away from a place of overwhelm for you?)
  3. Sustain. Continue stopping, starting and improving what you are doing to move to a place of less “overwhelm.” You may want to identify one (or more) close colleagues, friends or family members who can support you and remind you to continue to “stop” and “start” the areas of your life that will help you live in a better rhythm. Create “cues” in your environment to prompt you to stop or start something (e.g. perhaps you set a timer when checking email and stop when it goes off!). I’m currently reading a really interesting book “Atomic Habits” that emphasizes the power of your environment vs. will-power to make the changes you want to make. It makes sense in a public health context and the rest of our lives too. 🙂 If you find yourself drifting back into being overwhelmed, take time to reflect and create environments (including people) to help you stop and start what you need to do to move in the other direction!

So what about you? What are you going to stop or start this week to move toward a place of rhythm in your life?

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Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

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