“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” ~Raymond Hull
What does overextending yourself look like? It resembles lunch on your lap, misplaced keys and wearing your shirt inside out. It looks like an elastic band that’s about to snap, and you can already anticipate the sting. Obviously, if you want to avoid the pain, it’s best you learn how to release the tension.
You need to hear this: if you’re being flung in every direction, then you’re not really following through on anything or doing anything particularly well.
Your internal foundation will be shaky; health, money, relationships and work will eventually crack. What’s even worse than that is the speed with which your life will fly by without enjoying all the simple moments, these moments which are your life.
We are all busy–relationships, kids, work and friends, and it’s good to be a go-getter, but when your Martha Stewart persona has been replaced with a frenzied Wile E Coyote, things are about to blow up.
Consider this scenario: The shrill voice of your good friend booms through the phone complaining about the stress of planning their exotic European vacation. Wait a second–what did she just say? Did she just say she needs you watch their dog? That’s right, the 120 pound Marley-and-Me replica; the one that chews, drools and tries to hump your sweet golden retriever.
The last ounce of energy has just been sucked out of you.Advertising
Okay, stop right there!
It’s okay to admit that you can’t take this on right now.
If you agree to babysit the Marley-and-Me devil, you will resent your friend for it. You will silently curse the nerve of her to drop this responsibility on you when you are in the middle of a major work project. This is going to strain your relationship.
Your family will take the brunt of this decision.
How will you respond? My bet is in two weeks time, you’ll be chasing Marley off your poor retriever with a broom.
We have a choice on how to respond to others’ demands. We are under no obligation. Our first priority must be our own needs.
I know you want to be helpful and agreeable. You likely hate conflict and have no idea even how to say NO. And I know that most of all, you don’t want to lose out on opportunities.Advertising
If we don’t recognize and satisfy our own needs then we are no good to anyone else. Like the elastic you will eventually snap. And then you’ll be of no use to your kids, work or your friend’s dog.
If any of this sounds like you, then you need to make some changes.
1. You spend time worrying about time.
This is the first clue. If you stress about even a five-minute change in schedule, jump right down to the solutions. You are overextended.
2. You eat on the go.
The last time you sat down for a proper meal was the family Thanksgiving dinner. Really?
3. You’re not getting enough sleep.
You’re so tired that all you can think about is sleep, but ironically, you’re so busy that you don’t get enough sleep. When you do blindly fall into bed at night, you wake up at the witching hour, compiling to-do lists while wrestling with your pillow.
That’s right, you’re starting to resemble a zombie.
4. You don’t have time for friends, favors or hobbies.
You haven’t seen your friends in months, haven’t had time to phone your siblings in weeks and can’t even remember the last time you did something spontaneous.Advertising
If you’re starting to resent people asking for favors, it might be time to consider cutting back.
5. Your Health.
Are you experiencing muscle tension, back aches or insomnia? While these symptoms could be from a number of issues, overextending yourself will cause stress, which we all know is the big “silent killer.”
6. Can’t handle changes.
You want, no, let me rephrase, you need everything to go exactly as planned, and it’s not going to go as planned. One little shift and like a Jenga puzzle, it’s all going to come toppling down around you.
If you’ve crossed over into this muddy territory, you’ll need to consider making some changes.
You will need to write a list to assess what changes you can make. I know you don’t have time for lists–that’s the problem, right? Well consider taking a day off work, or wake up extra early tomorrow.
Start with outer changes. Maybe hire a housekeeper or a babysitter or maybe take a break from social engagements. But along with outer changes, there are also some inner changes that will need to happen.
Let’s get back to a balanced life, shall we?
1. Put you first.
Put your own needs above all others. Much like in a plane, always put your mask on first; you are no good to anyone if you break down.Advertising
You are a mother/father, wife/husband, sister/brother and friend, but these roles don’t define who you are. Do you something you love once a week. Even if its just curling up with a good book.
Stop taking life so seriously. No matter what’s happening, life will go on; stop causing yourself unneeded stress.
3. Learn how to be assertive–say NO.
Helpful hints to saying “no” without causing a rift:
- Tell them “maybe,” then take the proper time to think it over.
- Be honest and explain that you can’t commit because you have previous priorities.
- Soften the blow by saying, “I’d love to but…”
- Give them a suggestion: “I’m not the best person to help you with that because…”
4. Ignore Expectations.
Accept that what others think you should do might not be what you want or need. And that’s okay. You need to learn that what other people love, like golf or skiing, you really don’t enjoy. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Lose your “shoulds” and realize that you don’t have to do anything.
5. You’re not Perfect.
If you miss a spot on the bathroom floor, it’s okay. Being perfect can replace any sense of fun with a nagging, soul-sucking, endless effort that never gets anything quite right. Stop obsessing; perfectionism will only leave you frustrated.
6. Make yourself a realistic schedule.
Take a deep breath and focus on one task at a time. Fully complete each task before moving onto the next.
So take care of yourself today.
Take time to:
- do something that will make YOU feel happy!
What items can you streamline in your life to make things smoother? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Last Updated on December 9, 2019
5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively
Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it, plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!
Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.
Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:
1. Get Rationally Optimistic
Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.
This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.
In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”
The result: no more mental stress.
Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.
How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.
It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.
3. Easy on the Caffeine
Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.
Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.
4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door
That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.
How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:
- Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
- St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
- Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.
While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.
5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise
This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.
The result: mental stress will be gone!
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.
More to Help You Feel Relaxed
- The Importance of Scheduling Downtime
- 3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Relax and Reduce Stress
- How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressed
Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com