4 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed with Life

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This post is from my sweet friend, Crystal Paine (moneysavingmom). Enjoy!

It was 2009. My third baby had just been born. I was beginning “official” homeschooling with my five-year-old, my two-year-old was potty-training, my husband’s law firm was still getting off the ground, I was battling postpartum depression, and my blog had mushroomed into something far beyond what I’d envisioned requiring hours of effort each week to run.

Everything felt out of whack. I was overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted — and I wasn’t doing a good job of being a wife, mom, homeschooler, homemaker, or a blogger. In addition, my health was suffering a great deal from the strain and fatigue of trying to juggle it all.

I knew something had to give… but what? I kept telling myself that if I just got more organized, pushed harder, and slept less I’d be able to find a way to do it all.

However, a better schedule, more productivity, or shorter nights wasn’t the magical fix. In fact, it was the exact opposite: I desperately needed to do less, have more margin in my schedule, and get more sleep at night.

It took me a few more months — and getting to the end of my rope physically and emotionally — for me to wake up to the fact that I needed to do an extreme paring down of my responsibilities in order to reclaim my health, find breathing room in my day, and start enjoying life more.

Thanks to my husband’s gentle yet persistent prodding, I finally accepted that I’m not superwoman, relinquished many things on my plate, and brought on some help. Since then, I have come to a beautiful place where I am enjoying life and don’t live everyday feeling stressed and frazzled.

What brought about the change? Well, here are four things:

1. Delete the Non-Essentials

Picture a book that had no margins — the words completely filled each and every page of the entire book. Would that book be an easy read? No, it would feel chaotic and busy, probably even overwhelming.

It’s the same with our lives. If we don’t allow white space to breathe and refresh, but instead pack every moment of every day full to the brim with to-do’s and projects, our lives will feel chaotic, disorderly, and exhausting.

You’ve got to set your foot down, create boundaries, and say no. This doesn’t mean you always say no to everything and it doesn’t always mean that you say no every time. But it does mean that you realize that you are the one calling the shots. If an opportunity or idea is going to put extra strain on your home and family, you are the boss and you have the final say.

It’s easy to forget this and start feeling obligated to people and projects, so I encourage you to ask yourself a few hard questions before committing to something:

  • “When am I going to find the time to do this?”
  • “Is this going to take time and effort away from my most important priorities?”
  • “What is going to be the return on my investment of time?”

Never commit to something without careful consideration. I promise that you won’t regret it.

2. Make Sleep a Priority

For years, I burned the candle at both ends thinking I had to because my to-do list was so long. But here’s what I found: Burning the candle at both ends doesn’t make you superwoman; it makes you exhausted.

Believe it or not, I’ve learned I actually get a lot more done when I’m well rested, plus I feel a lot calmer about life in general. So I’ve been trying to go to be earlier and, on the nights when I don’t go to bed early, I let myself sleep in for an extra hour (or even two!). It makes such a difference in my productivity — and in my overall demeanor.

Do everything you can to make sleep a priority. Let the dishes sit in the sink, turn off the computer and go to bed as soon as you can at night. I know the temptation is great to use that quiet, uninterrupted time to tackle your list of 997 things you haven’t gotten to in the last six months, but your body needs sleep.

If you can’t go to bed earlier, try squeezing in a nap in the afternoon or on the weekends when your husband is home. Sometimes even a 10 or 15-minute catnap can do wonders!

3. Give Yourself Grace

You might be able to juggle a lot of things and do a good job of it, but you aren’t nor will you ever be superwoman. One thing that has really helped me to is intentionally set the bar lower when it comes to what I expect of myself. It’s wonderful to challenge myself, but it’s also important to realize that I’m never going to get everything done. There will always be another project that needs to be completed.

Instead of beating myself up over how far I have left to go, I’m learning to focus on being excited about the progress I’m making. Because moving forward — even at a microscopic rate — is still moving forward.

In addition, I’ve become a fan of hiring on help. Now, before you click away from this post thinking there’s no way you could afford to bring on some extra help, consider a few ideas:

Could you find a little wiggle room in your family’s budget to hire a young girl from church or your local community to come over for a few hours every other week? It might be worth other sacrifices to make this a priority.

If that’s not feasible, what about swapping afternoons with another mom once a week — one week, she takes your kids. The next week, you take hers. Knowing you have an afternoon off every other week may do wonders for your sanity!

If you don’t think bringing on regular help like that would really be helpful, think of other ways you could simplify your life: maybe getting pizza one night a week to give you a night off from cooking. Or paying for a menu-planning service subscription. Or using boxed cake mix for that upcoming birthday party… give yourself grace to cut some corners and not feel like you’re failing your family if you don’t make everything yourself from scratch!

4. Enjoy Your Family

Your babies are only little once. Take time to just enjoy them. To stare into their faces. To soak up their cuddles and smiles and giggles and firsts. Stop and listen to them, talk with them, love on them. Cherish them.

And don’t neglect your husband, either. You might not have a lot of energy left at the end of the day, but at least meet him at the door with a kiss and a smile. Ask him how he’s doing. Make time for him.

This stuff is so much more important than a clean house or an organized kitchen. And if you’ve got to choose between cleaning or cuddling, always choose the cuddling. At the end of your life, you won’t regret it!

18110681Today is the release of Crystal’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life! It’s a wonderful book and highly motivating and practical. I have no doubt you will find it helpful and encouraging!

To get yourself a copy, just head to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller!

To read more about it, head here!

 

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. You’re going to want to click over to MoneySavingMom.com today because Crystal is giving away a WASHER AND DRYER! I know. Whoa. So, click here and you can enter for a chance to win!

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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  • http://mrsdings.blogspot.com/ Shannon Deterding

    Yes! Sometimes just keeping everyone fed and in clean clothes is success! Breathe. Pray.

  • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ Aprille {beautifulinhistime.co

    Love this…my word for the year is whitespace, but margin was my runner up. I’m daily doing everything in this post and it’s made such a huge difference already, just in the past few weeks!

  • http://www.joyfilleddays.com/ Sarah Beals

    Great advice. I can attest: getting no sleep makes you tired. :)

  • Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose

    There was a time when my life was nice and organized before my husband and kids, but now I have other priorities. It’s hard some days to not be overwhelmed by my to do list, but slowly but surely I’m making progress. I actually even wrote a post recently called “Is there life outside the to do list?”

  • MomLaurM

    It’s so true! It’s as if having space in our days is a plague to avoid, we’re failing if we have some breathing room! I walked that walk for a while until we had our 4th last year and I realized if I kept it up, we’d all suffocate. God gave grace and space for us and I am loving being more relaxed and not piling on so much so we can enjoy what we ARE doing more!

  • Cara Thompson

    God’s timing is so perfectly gracious, and the two of you (Sarah Mae & Crystal) have been used in a major way to influence my life. I’m so thankful for posts like this and your books! The power of an encouraging word should not be underestimated! May you both continue to be richly blessed by Him!

  • Christa Sterken

    Just wrote about this too! The beginning of the year seems to have started with difficulty for many, glad to see this great post

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    Great post. “Burning the candle at both ends doesn’t make you superwoman; it makes you exhausted.” Such a great reminder.

    • Koren

      I love this line too, Tammy. So often articles encourage us to go harder, harder, harder. It’s nice to know we don’t have to push ourselves to breaking point to be successful.

  • JB

    I love this post. SO. MUCH. I definitely feel overwhelmed these days and trying to do too much. I attempted to play Superwoman for the past 4-5 years and found I just failed horribly at it. God continued to extend His love to me and now things are on the up and up, slowly, day to day with mercy and grace.

  • Jessica Visher

    Another idea for getting help: if you have an extra room in your house that could suffice as a bed room, lend it out the room to a female college student in exchange for house work and child care. We were blessed with an old Victorian house which means lots of bedrooms. So we put an ad out to a local Christian college for the position and we got two girls (they share a bedroom). So in exchange for the room and me feeding them (which surprisingly doesn’t cost that much. I mean, you’re probably already cooking for at least four anyway), I get: all my laundry folded two times a week, two breakfasts per week prepared by 8, two dinners per week prepared and cleaned, one two hour time slot per week to either do projects, relax or sleep, two errand trips a month, two date nights a month, and a weekly time to budget and plan the upcoming week. I don’t take out the trash and I don’t clean the floor or the bathrooms! And since they’re both Christian they will often do more than asked and most nights I don’t do dishes. It’s fantastic! They can stay somewhere that doesn’t put them into more debt or costs money which means a job on top of their studies and I can concentrate on raising my family of six (and my oldest is five, so I really, really need the help :). And I can show these young girls what family life is REALLY like, so it’s also a ministry.

  • http://www.handandtheheart.com/ Andrea Laughery

    So amazing. Love this. Thank you!

  • Beth Williams

    It can be hard not to want to be the Superwoman who can do it all. It may work for a short while, but then something gives. Sleep deprivation can lead to ugly moods. These are great suggestions.
    Also love Jessica Visher’s idea of lending out a room to a female college student. You would be doing a ministry by showing them family life and taking some burdens off them. In return you just might get some good workers to help with some of the enormous amount of work.
    God Bless all mothers!

  • http://choosetotrust.com/ Scott Perkins

    Very nice list. Breaking free of the need to be productive as a way to feel good about our self is important. I see this in so many of the woman (and men) around me. http://choosetotrust.com/2012/10/sign-of-a-disordered-life

  • http://burbstoboonies.blogspot.com/ Steph @ Burbs to Boonies

    This is so relevant to me right now. I think I will go take that nap, thank you.

  • Sade Tagbo

    My top two things to do when I am overwhelmed : 1. Sleep and 2. Read something that brings perspective – The Bible, CS Lewis, Corrie Ten Boom, Restoring Joy etc.