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6 Signs You Might be Overextending Yourself

6 Signs You Might be Overextending Yourself

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2.  Laugh.

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:

  • breathe
  • meditate
  • read
  • contemplate
  • relax
  • think
  • laugh
  • dream
  • 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.

More by this author

Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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