In previous OFN articles, we’ve covered the importance of planning your life so that fitness contributes to your overall balance. But what happens if, despite good planning on your part, you wake up one morning feeling completely overwhelmed and unable to make yourself do *anything*, much less exercise?
This is especially topical for me right now, because it’s exactly where I woke up yesterday. Yes, even those of us trained in life balance still miscalculate sometimes – we’re only human too! Our training doesn’t stop us getting out of balance occasionally – but it helps us recognise it and deal with it promptly. And since I know clients who’ve experienced the same thing, writing about my process for getting back into balance seemed like a good idea.
STEP 1: TAKE TIME OUT
Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed, we’re too close to the situation to see it clearly. At such times, we need time out. Don’t actually *do* anything about your overwhelm during this time – just rest or do something you enjoy without making demands on yourself. Even a few hours can be helpful.
I cancelled yesterday’s appointments – then gave myself as long as I needed to doze. I knew I had work that wasn’t getting done – but I also knew if I tried to do it, I’d just add to my exhaustion.
STEP 2: EVALUATE
Once you’ve taken a break, ask yourself what’s changed recently. What are you doing more or less of than you were before? What’s started or stopped in your life since the last time you felt balanced? Don’t judge whether something ‘should’ affect you or not – just look at facts. What’s different now?
Personally, I realised that although I’d planned my days well, I’d stopped keeping to my plans. I’d been working longer hours, and let my diet become unbalanced. On top of that, there was a personal issue I’d avoided dealing with that was stealing my energy resources.
STEP 3: MAKE PLANS
Once you know what’s changed, explore what you can do about it. How simple this process is will depend on your circumstances. If your life was fairly balanced before the overwhelm hit, it may only need a few lifestyle tweaks. If not, it may be more complex. Either way, work with where you are now. Remember that there are many resources available to help you – experts you can ask, friends who might have suggestions, articles, books and websites.
In my case, I wrote a grocery list that included foods rich in the nutrients I was going short on, re-planned my day more realistically, and acknowledged my need to do something about the issue I’d been avoiding.
STEP 4: ACT ON YOUR PLANS
After identifying what needs doing, the next step is to do it. At this point, getting help (whether from a friend or an expert) is always valuable. Remember you may not be able to act on your plans immediately – some plans will be short-term, others will be longer. Beware of trying to do too much too fast – chances are that’s exactly what exhausted you to start with!
In my case, I talked things over with a friend, then looked at what I could act on. Some actions were short-term (eating a meal containing the foods I’d bought, and talking to the person concerned about the issue I’d been ignoring), and some longer-term (committing to my more realistic plans).
STEP 5: REVIEW AND MAKE CHANGES
An important part of any action plan is reviewing it – and getting back into balance is no exception.
Once you’ve implemented a change for a reasonable length of time, go back to step 2 and evaluate how well it’s working. Do you feel more in balance? Are you finding it easier to exercise? If not (or not as much as you’d like), what else might still be out of balance? Run through steps 3, 4 and 5 again until you get the results you’re looking for. If you’re running out of ideas at this stage, you’ll definitely benefit from talking it over with an expert.
The actions I’d already taken brought me back into balance less than 24 hours after I hit overwhelm. If they hadn’t though, I’d be going through the review process right now – exploring what else might need tweaking, trying it, then reviewing it in a few days.
FINAL WORDS: WHAT *NOT* TO DO
In the article above, I’ve described my own process for moving out of overwhelm, and into balance. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t quickly tell you what I’ve tried that really *doesn’t* work for me:
• Ignoring the overwhelm and hoping it goes away
• Trying to muscle through with willpower
• Trying to deal with it completely on my own
While all of these appeal to the part of me that wants to appear in control, each one leaves me even more overwhelmed than when I started! The five-step process, however, always brings me back to balance. If you have any questions about anything in this article, or you’d like some expert help in balancing your life, please contact me. Otherwise, until the next issue, may every day bring you closer to your optimum life.
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© Tanja Gardner, Optimum Life Ltd.
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