Dear Dr. Norquist:
Can you give me some advice on how to deal with feeling overwhelmed? I feel this way all too much. I work full-time and have 8 year-old twin boys who are very active in sports on weekends. My husband works 60 hours a week, and with his commuting time, he is not around a lot to help me out. I just have too many demands on me. I love my job, and we need the money, so leaving work is not an option. What can I do to not feel so overwhelmed all the time?
Dr. Norquist responds:
You do have a lot on your plate. Try to find a way to enjoy this time in life, for in 10 years your kids will probably be off to college, and you may be nostalgic about this time, which now feels so demanding and harried.
One of the secrets to enjoying this time and reducing your feelings of overwhelm is to focus on what is going on in the moment, rather than all the things that need to be done by a certain time in the future. In other words, instead of focusing on collective time, practice doing what needs to be done at the moment its right to do it. Take things step by step, doing whatever is most appropriate at any given moment, and you will walk yourself through life doing what needs to be done in a less pressured, and more enjoyable way.
Prioritize and be willing to let go of some of the things you’d like to accomplish. Try to focus mainly on what’s most important to you. Set reasonable time expectations, and don’t demand perfection from yourself. It is helpful to use daily and weekly lists and keep a calendar of appointments, kids activities, etc. so you don’t create added stress by trying to mentally recall deadlines and commitments. Your husband and kids can take on certain responsibilities, if you’re willing to ask for help. Give yourself a break when you are on overload; take a mental health day, find time for a bubble bath, take a long walk, or order take-out for dinner. Make sure you have enough time with friends and with your husband, relaxing and laughing together, taking time off from the demands of your current life. Enjoy your kids. They will change and grow and this time will pass. There is a time and a season for everything in life, and you are in the busy season! Be with it and learn to savor the moments, and truly enjoy your life.
There is a wonderful homeopathic-type Bach Flower Remedy (available at most health food stores) for the state of being overwhelmed. It is called Elm, and it works quickly (a few drops on the tongue as needed) and without side effects. I highly recommend it. (As always, you should consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet).
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns.Ó 2017 Chaitanya Counseling Services