From the Blog

What to do when overwhelmed by work and life

We’ve partnered with TED speaker Tracy Brower, Ph.D., MM, MCR, for a Summer Reading Club – using her book Bring Work to Life as a guide. To dig in deeper, we’re answering your most pressing questions weekly on our blog. Here’s Tracy’s third response. See last week’s answer and sign up for our reading club.

I feel overwhelmed by my work, family and personal life. What small changes can I make to help me feel I can succeed in all areas?

There’s a list of perhaps 20 things that may be helpful —but that would probably just make you feel more overwhelmed.

The answer to this question is about thoughts and actions.

First, the thoughts:

Liberate yourself

Free yourself from stringent expectations about all that you should be doing. While it’s certainly positive to strive to be your best and stretch yourself, it may be better just to be. Say no more often – you don’t have to do it all. Take off the pressure and remind yourself that you’re a human being, not a human doing.

Give yourself permission to be overwhelmed

We all feel overwhelmed and under water at various times. The pitfall is when you’re too hard on yourself about it. Instead of getting down, reassure yourself that it’s OK to feel less than optimal sometimes.

Next, the actions:

Ask for help

Open up, reach out and seek assistance from others. There’s no award for doing it all, and there’s no shame in asking for help. Lean on others when you can’t juggle everything. Asking for help is a sign of strength and self-awareness (not weakness). And it builds relationships. Others typically want to help, just like we want to help them.

Pay attention to the basics

It’s important to nurture your physical self during stressful times. Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat as healthy as possible, exercise daily and revitalize outside (at least 20 minutes a day!). Resist making these activities part of an ongoing to-do list. Simply try to work them into your daily life, so they don’t add to the pressure.

May these tips help (and not overwhelm) you. Best wishes!

About Tracy Brower:

Tracy BrowerTracy is a work environment sociologist, author, mother of two and Global Vice President of Workplace Vitality at Mars Drinks. She studies how humans affect their work-life and how it affects them back. Over her career, Tracy has had the opportunity to engage with many of the Fortune 500 companies.