What to do when you’re overwhelmed

It’s the time of year for resolutions. Some of us make them. Some of us hate them. Some of us break them. Some of us have already broken them. (I haven’t started mine yet).

It’s also the time of the year for retrospection and reorganization. How did you do last year? What do you want to continue to do? What do you want to change?

If you’re like me, you’re just happy that you survived December. It’s time to recharge. Time to breathe. Time to wait for the energy to forge ahead with a new plan.

My social media is inundated with offers to streamline, simplify, and reorganize. Free downloadables, discounted plans, new ideas to try. They are fresh, glittery, and tempted. Part of me thinks, if I download the magical calendar organizer, the meal plans, or the decluttering strategy, maybe I can get myself back on track.

No wonder we all bought coloring books for Christmas.

Let’s be honest with one another. It’s not that we don’t know how to make goals, or clean, or get things done. Sometimes it’s a lack of motivation. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations we don’t have the time. Sometimes in the secret places we don’t like to admit, we don’t believe we can do it.

I’m there. I’m at that place and it’s not a good one. I suffer from anxiety and when I don’t manage it well, it snaps over into depression. The logical sides of my mind says, “Hey, get up and do something. You’re depressed. Doing something will make you feel better.” But the illogical part of me curls up in a ball, pulls the covers over her head, and says, “Maybe I’ll feel like it tomorrow.”

So for my sanity, and maybe yours, here’s a FREE list of things you can do to get yourself back on track.

Surprised young man looking at the camera over white background

You want me to do what?

  1. Pray. The voice telling you you’re a loser, or a failure, or you can’t do it isn’t one you should listen to. Quite the opposite. Pray for truth.
  2. Read the Bible. I know, I know. You’re overwhelmed. You don’t need to ADD things to the list, you need to take them away. We’re going to get to that. Just trust me when I say if you’re not in the Word, you’re not in a good place. This step and #1 are more important than any of the next steps. Praying is us talking to God. Reading the Bible is God talking to us.
  3. Make a list of all the things you need to do. Sometimes just knowing is half the battle. Separate them into things you can do quickly and things that need more time. Tackle the quick things to make yourself feel better, then start on the longer things one at a time in the order of necessity. Scratching the easy stuff off the list will make you feel so much better.
  4. Simplify. Look at all the things you’ve signed up to do. Some are no-brainers. If you have to work, you have to work. But what about the rest? Do you really need to do all those volunteer projects? Do your kids really need to be in all those after school activities? What would your life look like if you didn’t do X? Consider taking a break from some of the activities for a while, or scale back your involvement.
    • As for me, I’m an over-volunteerer. I’m resolving not to volunteer for anything else until I fulfill the obligations I already have. Then I’ll take some time to re-evaluate before diving into anything again.
  5. Draft your ideal week. This is especially important if you work from home. This article has a link with an excel spreadsheet you can download if you like that sort of thing. Don’t schedule yourself down to the minute. Just block out how your days should go. Then step back and look at it. Is it too busy? Does your schedule make you want to hide in your closet? If so, then go back to #4. You’ve got some things on there you shouldn’t.
    • We limit our kids to one after school activity. With two kids, that’s still pretty crazy.
  6. Set realistic expectations. If you’re a writer, don’t expect to write 10,000 words every day. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, don’t expect to clean the entire house, do all the laundry, and go grocery shopping by lunch on Monday. If you and your husband both work and all your kids have separate after school activities on Wednesday, making a 7-course nutritious dinner that everyone loves might not be in your bandwidth.
    • Start with something simple: I will clean one room a day. I will do housework for 1 hour each day. I will write for 20 minutes each day. I will make dinner 3 times each week. I will take a 20 minute walk each day.
  7. Recruit a friend. Someone who can pray for you, encourage you, and keep you accountable.
  8. Blog about it. Entirely optional. 🙂

I’m going through a tough season right now because I’ve been ignoring the steps. I know better, but I find myself falling into novels to escape the stress that has been building up on me since Thanksgiving. I can’t live in denial any longer.

It’s time to go back to the basics. I’ve been here before and I know these steps work. I know I can do it. I know I’m not really a loser or a failure with no hope of succeeding. Get behind me, Satan. He that is in me is greater than He that is in the world.

If you’ve tried these steps and still can’t get your head around things, or if you’re so overwhelmed you still don’t know where to start, then here’s a bonus one for you:

***Get help. Sometimes we need professional help to get through the road bumps life throws at us. Seek a good Christian counselor. Someone who will pray with you. You might have to see more than one to find your match, but the right person can make a world of difference.


6 thoughts on “What to do when you’re overwhelmed

  1. Awesome post, Lisa! 2016 has NOT been all that I had hoped so far but I’ve a lot of hope for the days ahead. I always have this type of issue in January as I shared in my post on Tuesday. Your suggestions are spot on. Here’s to a great 2016 for all of us!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw, hang in there! You know I struggled all through the fall. Praise God, I’ve been doing well for the past several weeks, even despite everything going on in our lives. I quit caffeine, take some supplements that really help and found a Bible Study that has helped me focus. And I simplified – a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Lisa! When I’m overwhelmed, I need to also let my mind veg doing something like walking, cooking something familiar and tasty, going to the gym, or just watching a movie. All these give my mind some time off to regenerate.


  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lisa. I’ve been reading way too much over the holidays and am just now starting to feel guilty enough to get back into things :-(. I’m with you in terms of seeing new ideas flooding my mail basket every week and they look sooooo tempting, but then I tell myself that I already have everything I need and to just U S E what I already have!.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. a couple of weeks ago, I took a time management/organization class. What I remember most, is the statement that, “Only we can motivate ourselves; no one else can do it for us—but they *can” inspire us.”

    Liked by 1 person

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