Studies have concluded that people juggle an average of 50,000 thoughts a day. No wonder it’s so easy to become overloaded! The car didn’t start this morning. That thought occupies one little corner of your mind. Your boss is upset with you but you don’t know why. Another corner fills up. Your spouse calls and they need you to pick up something after work. A third spot is occupied. Your son or daughter continues to miss their curfew. That problem needs attention at some point, but you can’t deal with it immediately so it gets stored in the back of your mind.
After just an hour, you are engulfed in a myriad of problems that overpower your mind. The stress starts to show up through a shortage of patience, an abundance of nerves, and a lack of enthusiasm. When it happens to me, my family usually gets the brunt of my actions, and for that reason I sought to change my approach.
I decided to write down everything that was bothering me or causing me anxiousness. Some items involved tasks I needed to accomplish and others were conflicts needing resolution. After making the list, I reviewed it and saw probably seven to 10 items in total ranging from a low of one on the stress scale to a high of 10. I realized as I was looking over the list that I could not control some of the items—causing me to wonder why I was stressing over something I couldn’t do anything about. Was it really helping the situation in any way?
A friend of mine’s high-school-aged son recently attended a running camp at a local college where the coach told the kids if there was anything he didn’t like it was his team complaining about things he couldn’t control, like the weather. He said he could tolerate complaints about sore muscles or running form, because he could help that, but he can’t change the weather.
With that in mind, I began to work on the points from the list that I could manage. And as I completed one, I crossed it off. Every time my fingers closed around the pencil to make a line through an item, I felt a little lighter, a little less stressed, and a lot more relaxed. Within two weeks, most of my list had been erased along with my anxiety.
If you are feeling the way I had felt—overwhelmed and underprepared, then take some time right now to jot down a list of the things that are causing you great concern. Identify those items not in your control and remove them. Take what is left and develop a plan for addressing them. For me personally, I use prayer to seek guidance and direction on how to tackle what needs to get done.
Once my offense is in place, I’m less defensive. Using this approach, I’m amazed at how quickly my list dwindles down to just a few things— and I believe everybody can handle a few issues.
It’s when the issues build, like steam in a kettle, that you feel like you’re going to blow. Instead of reaching that boiling point, grab a pen and paper, iPad, laptop, whatever gadget you need and compile your list. Then check it twice. Figure out what you are capable of accomplishing and leave the rest.
It will help you relax more in life and win at home.