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How to Survive a Case of the Overwhelms

Posted July 10, 2014 by Carolyn Stroud in Life After Five
It happens every summer. Our schedules get more packed, projects build up and it’s Labor Day before we know it. Whether its budget season, reports are due to the finance team, the front door desperately needs a new coat of paint or our kids’ swim team made it to regionals on the same week we scheduled vacation, there is no shortage of things to be accomplished and checked off lists during the summer months. Below is a list of some of my tricks to staying calm under pressure and enjoying these glorious months before we start feeling the effects of the next polar vortex.

Take a deep breath.
It’s summer after all! If your tasks at work are too daunting, take a step away from the computer, grab a cup of coffee, and go back at it with a fresh perspective after a ten minute break. Take a night off or take a walk down the block. Fresh air, a few minutes of serenity and even a relaxing meal with a loved one is a great investment in our mental health. Take a yoga class, go for a run, and fit in an activity in order to blow off steam even if it doesn’t appear like you have the time on your super packed calendar. It will mean the difference between enjoying the craziness and letting all of the stress build up until it completely knocks you off track.

Ask yourself: Is it absolutely necessary to do RIGHT NOW?
Does the car actually need to be washed today? Probably not. Do I need to run those reports for my boss today? Yes. So often we let the little things get in the way of doing the bigger, more important tasks. When there is so much to do it often feels like it makes sense to get the small stuff off our plate, but that isn’t the case if it gets in the way of accomplishing those larger, more daunting tasks that require time and concentration. Having those hanging over our head can cause even more stress. So put off the little unnecessary things if you can, in order to clear some space on your calendar.

Write it down.
Keeping lists and realistically prioritizing them is incredibly important. It means that at least you don’t have to worry about forgetting something and gives you a roadmap for tackling that crazy schedule. Write down everything you need to pick up at the grocery store for the Tuesday night picnic in the park and all the things you’ll need to pack for the road trip to the beach. It frees up your mind in order to think about the important stuff and makes everything much more streamlined and organized.

Enjoy the process.
As my mother would say, “it’s all about the journey, not the destination”. It has taken me the majority of my life to acknowledge her wisdom, but it’s particularly true when our calendars are full. And most of the time, it’s full of things we actually enjoy doing. Those barbeques, birthday parties, family reunions, road trips and weddings that fill our weekends are actually fun! It might mean less time to relax, but we should look forward to them. This also means making the best of the things that aren’t necessarily “fun” activities. Cleaning out the basement, running errands, and all those not-so-awesome (but often necessary) things can be slightly more enjoyable if you decide that “hey, I’m gonna make the best of this”! It might be rainy and humid, and you might rather be at home catching the latest Real Housewives episode, but that’s why they invented the DVR. So savor the rare moments of peace and quiet, and reframe how you look at being totally overwhelmed.

About the Author

Carolyn Stroud

Carolyn Stroud works in finance at a commercial real estate firm in Chicago. Her previous experience includes mortgage banking, leasing, running a start-up and captaining an adult co-ed kickball team. Originally from Detroit, she has an undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Carolyn is a voracious reader and passionate about growing outside her comfort zone. She recently completed her second marathon and is always up for a challenge.