Have you ever found yourself struggling to meet all the demands on your time? It can feel like you're running just to stand still.
You're creating presentations, going to meetings, writing reports, responding to an urgent client call, dealing with a customer-service issue or argument between two employees, and you don't catch a break until your head hits your pillow. On top of all of that, you have other obligations, such as caring for a loved one who is sick, coaching your child's soccer team, or helping plan that networking event for next month.
You are completely overloaded, but somehow, you're getting it all done. You always do.
We've all been there. What you're currently going through is something I refer to as soldiering. And though it may be uncomfortable, it is not something for which you should berate or belittle yourself.
Because there's strength in doing what you need to do to get by. And you're good at it.
As you're soldiering on, know that this stage will not last forever. Your strength, your perseverance will carry you and others around you until the next chapter. There'll be a time when this phase will be over. But for now, you need to be aware of it and especially careful when you engage in conversations with your colleagues, friends, and family. You don't want to take your stress out on them.
Before your next conversation, take a moment to get grounded.
When you're overwhelmed, it's easy to come across as short-tempered or not fully present in a conversation. To avoid taking your stress out on those around you, keep these three things in mind before your next conversation:
1. Acknowledge to yourself (and, if comfortable, to others close to you) that you are soldiering.
Soldiering is only harmful when you don't realize that you are doing it. If you're going through your days on autopilot, you're not fully present. As a result, you miss out on some things that matter most, like a genuine connection with yourself or others, and an opportunity to rest and reset when needed. When you acknowledge that you're reliving the same busy pattern day by day, going through the motions in a bit of a blur, recognizing where you are and how you are coping brings some clarity to your situation. It allows you to think about the outcome, your real goal, and the reason you are plowing ahead even when you're tired. When you label it as soldiering, you are emotionally supporting yourself, taking some of the pressure off, and aiding the coping process while you are in it.
2. Practice self-awareness.
Self-awareness doesn't always come naturally. We don't always take the time to look closely at our behaviors and motivations. But this is especially important when we're busy. By stepping back to observe yourself more clearly, you can see why you do the things you do, how you react to various circumstances, and why you feel a certain way. You can see the impact your behavior has on your emotional and physical health and how it impacts those around you. Understanding your behaviors and motivations will help you make more informed and conscious decisions that can positively impact your relationships. So notice how you respond to the stress of this current and temporary phase in your life.
3. Take time for self-care.
When we get fixated on our jobs or helping others, we tend to put our needs on the back burner. Doing things for ourselves may make us feel guilty, especially when we struggle to live up to our expectations for ourselves. But self-care is vital, especially during busy and stressful times. Everyone needs a bit of downtime to recharge and gain clarity and perspective. Even doing something simple, like grabbing your favorite meal, taking a walk, or enjoying a conversation with a friend, can give you the energy you need to replenish and tackle whatever comes next.
When you are overloaded and feel like you are failing at home and work, carve a bit of time out of your day to be kind to yourself. Share your current situation with those closest to you and focus on what you can accomplish instead of the list of things that still require your attention. Soldiering is not sustainable for the long term, but it also tends to have a natural ebb and flow. Your goal is to get through it as best you can by injecting awareness and self-reflection. My hope is that these three tips make your journey just a little easier.