I received this question from someone who is feeling overwhelmed by how busy she is ever since all the restrictions eased. If you’re also feeling overwhelmed these days, I hope you’ll find my response helpful.
Question: Ever since everything started opening up again, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. There are so many things I need to take care of every day – whether for work, family, household chores, or in other areas of my life. Lately I’ve been waking up earlier than usual and going to sleep later just to try to fit everything in. I’m burnt out. I’m not saying that I miss the lockdown days, but there’s something about getting back to the frantic pre-Covid pace of life that I’m finding really challenging – somehow more challenging than it used to be. I feel like I should be more grateful to finally get my old life back. What can I do to feel less overwhelmed and find more balance in my life?
I hear your frustration. How can you deal with all that’s been put back on your plate – it’s too much, and frankly you’re exhausted from this last year, you’re not at your peak and your kids and partner and work (and you yourself) need you to be at your peak?
Let’s start with those ‘shoulds’. There is no one right way that you should be feeling now or should be acting or should be responding to the opening up of life and routine. You are who you are, you experienced this year in your own unique way, and now your level of strength and energy is…whatever it is. Feel what you’re feeling and try to accept and be ok with the whole range of your feelings.
Are you taking on extra – that is, even more than your share, more than you normally would or that’s expected of you? Does your partner know how you feel? Are you shielding him – maybe out of a sense of guilt or responsibility that his work or life comes first and he’s also really busy and overwhelmed? Share your feelings and see if you can problem-solve together or at least support each other. Is there anyone else in your life that could lighten your load or be a good sounding board, even if just to air your feelings?
In terms of your busy-ness – it will help you to clarify and then prioritize all of the different things that are overwhelming you. Try making a list every day or two days. The list has three columns: 1. Things I will definitely accomplish 2. Things I might get to 3. Things I will NOT do today. This breakdown will help you assign value to each of the items on your to-do list, prioritize, give your full attention to the most important items, and then let yourself off the hook for the things you won’t do at this time.
This is a period of transition, as we return to our old lives. In some ways, we’re not the same as we were before. Be compassionate towards yourself.