There are so many things that we have to attend to in our lives. Our work, our relationships, our health, our homes. It can feel like you’re running around in circles trying to keep those plates spinning. As soon as you get comfortable and in control of all your tasks and activities, either you or others decide to add a few more plates. But at some point you might find yourself getting overwhelmed and afraid that it’s all going to come crashing down. When you find yourself being too busy, it’s time to slow down and think about what’s really important to you and worth your time and energy.
How Did You Get So Busy?
First of all, commend yourself for being such an energetic, active person who’s trying to accomplish a lot. It’s both admirable and life-affirming to be involved in lots of activities and pursuits. You wouldn’t want to limit your life and do nothing just to avoid the possibility of being too busy or overwhelmed.
Secondly, your efficiency may have gotten you in this position. There’s an old saying, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” When others see that you can handle a lot, they ask you to handle more. It’s a nice compliment. Maybe you don’t want to disappoint them by saying no?
Thirdly, did you give yourself the time to sit down and think it through before you added tasks to your life? Perhaps you underestimated how much time something would take. Or maybe you forgot to allot free time for you.
Fourthly, life is full of tantalizing opportunities. I’d love to be in a writing group and a book club and a hiking club and on and on. It can be hard to say no to fun activities but no one can do it all. Especially on top of your every day chores and work. Some people over-extend themselves because they have difficulty missing out on fun.
And lastly, life happens. You may have chosen a very reasonable amount of activities to manage, but now suddenly you have to do taxes, care for a sick family member or repair your car.
Figure Out What’s Important to You
You need to take a break in order to figure out what’s important to you. Those spinning plates can keep you so busy that you don’t have the time to sit down and think about what and why you’re spinning in the first place.
One activity that ought to be a priority is self-care. On a regular basis, whether it’s once a week or once a day, sit down and think about or talk to someone about how you’re doing. Meditation can help you slow down and focus on yourself. Journaling can help you check in and sort through what you’re thinking and feeling. Therapy is also an excellent way to become more aware of yourself and what is helping or hindering you.
The goal of all this self-awareness is to identify what’s most important to you and whether your energy is being spent on those things or being depleted by unnecessary and unfulfilling tasks.
Once you sit down and discover that some changes need to be made, the next step is making those changes. It might be difficult to tell someone that you can’t take care of something for them. You might not like admitting that you need help taking care of something for yourself. And it could be disappointing to miss a party or a fun activity.
Maybe you fear that saying no will harm you in some way. That’s a very important thing that you should think long and hard about. Is it true? Or is it fear?
Saying no, however uncomfortable, is a necessity for your well-being. Being able to say “no” is what will allow you to keep saying “yes” to the life that you want to be living. And perhaps that’s a life where you aren’t always spinning.
Learn how psychotherapy can help you, contact Rena Pollak, LMFT for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I have a private practice in Encino and Tarzana.
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