Life whizzes by at a dizzying pace while the landscape around you blurs from one scene to the next. Just when you think you can make out an object, you’ve traveled too far to even be able to make it out anymore. Your days find you trudging along as if you are trying to move forward with your feet buried deeply in what most certainly has to be a swamp of thick molasses. And if you’re being honest, your feet weigh as much as if you were wearing moon boots filled with cement. Simply put, you are beyond exhausted, stressed out, burned out, and stretched too thin.
Let’s face it, life is busy. Demands placed on us can be so high, and we can be pulled in what seems to be a million different directions. Often, we as women are required to wear many hats each day, and we can be left asking if we really wear any one hat well.
In fact, we can feel like absolute failures because we know that if we have to keep up this pace, we don’t wear any of the hats well. We are constantly dropping the ball.
If we are supposed to be a mom, we are left feeling guilty because we’re not working. If we are working, we are failing as a mom. When we do the things we used to enjoy, they just feel like a chore now. The things we used to love, we now don’t. It could even be that you have no idea who you even are anymore.
Is this you?
If it is, I hear you. I feel you. I’ve been you at times.
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As a mom of nine, I feel the pressure to be all for all people. I have people I don’t want to disappoint. And, I have things that I actually enjoy doing that I want to make time for, but I feel guilty when I do.
Sometimes I feel frustrated that I’m human. I feel the pressure to keep it all going.
But, there are times when we simply can’t. There are times when life demands more of us than we can possibly fulfill. And, it’s important to recognize this for what it is and then learn how we can manage these seasons.
This is what this post is all about.
Maybe you work well over a 40 hour work week. Maybe you have young children under your feet. It could be that you’re totally alone, shattered and brokenhearted. It could also be that you are overwhelmed with something totally different.
But, no matter the reason for your overwhelm, exhaustion, and crippling stress, how do you know when too much is too much?
It starts with being able to get to a quiet place, quieting your mind, and being open to stepping away from the life that is strangling you. You need to be able to take an objective look at yourself and your life from afar so you can clearly see it for what it is.
Then, check out these signs that will tell you whether you’re stretched too thin, overwhelmed, and exhausted.
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Do you find yourself:
Eating a horrible diet
Do you find yourself eating some cookies, chips, or whatever else you can grab as you walk past? It could also be that you choose to eat unhealthy foods as a form of self sabotage or punishment. You know you should eat better, but you consciously choose not to, just so you can beat yourself up about it.
This is something I can be so guilty of. Sometimes it’s because I just don’t want to make the time. Sometimes it’s because the thought of food makes me sick to my stomach. But most times it’s because thinking about what to make and then the energy involved in actually eating it makes me feel too exhausted. So I don’t.
Taking way too long to do things you love
I love reading. But when I’m stretched too thin and overwhelmed, I am guilty of not making the time to do what I know will help me feel better. Reading is my thing. It relaxes me.
What’s your thing?
When you find yourself dragging your feet when it comes to doing the things you love most, it’s a warning sign that you’re stressed out.
Laughter really is good medicine. It releases tension and stress, and it actually relaxes your muscles in a unique way. If you honestly can’t remember the last time you had a good hearted belly laugh, you could very well be stretched too thin.
Taking the easy way out
I will be the first to admit that at times shortcuts are necessary. But, taking too many of them is often a problem. Have you been taking shortcuts on many of the daily responsibilities you face?
Maybe as a mom you’ve been feeding your family with the drive-thru more times that you care to think about. At work, you might be taking too many shortcuts or pushing your work onto someone else. Maybe household tasks are barely getting done.
Look for ways that you’ve been taking the easy way out.
Displaying a short fuse
While this can happen to the best of us at times, repeatedly blowing up at the people around you isn’t going to work well for you. Living through seasons of extreme stress, overwhelm, and burnout can take nearly all the life out of us. So, when something happens that sets us off, we come unglued.
If you have trouble keeping your emotions in check and frequently come unglued even at the littlest of things, take this seriously. Start looking to see if some of these other signs are present a well.
Forgetting basic things
We can often be forgetful here and there, but this is something more. If you are forgetting to take care of basic tasks, this could signal a problem. If you’re forgetting regular appointments, this could be a problem. Truly forgetting basic responsibilities is a clue that you are stretched too thin.
Finding no happiness
This one is huge. We all know the things that make us happy. But, if you are no longer finding satisfaction or happiness in the things you normally enjoy, pay attention. This can actually be a huge indication of a deeper problem.
Being unable to feel extreme emotions whether positive or negative isn’t a good thing. Feeling negative emotions like sadness is part of being human. But if both your highs and lows feel as if you’re experiencing them with a mute button, you could be stressed out beyond where you should be.
If you can’t pinpoint anything that you’ve done in the past couple of weeks that gives you a sense of pride, pay attention. No matter who you are or what life is like, you have accomplished something you can feel good about. But, beyond stretched beyond what you can handle often clouds your vision to being able to pinpoint your accomplishments.
This is more than just being tired. This could be things like nodding off while driving, falling asleep while reading or working on your computer, and being unable to physically meet the demands you normally fulfill.
Feeling exhausted beyond what would be considered normal for an extended period of time is something to take seriously.
Others are noticing
Being regularly asked by family members or close friends if you are alright or if something is wrong is common for those who are just too overwhelmed. We can be so bad at recognizing things in our own life, but those who know us best can easily pick up on these things.
Think back — are people you know questioning you about how you’re doing more than normal?
Take an honest assessment of this
Weigh loss or weigh gain are signs of being stretched too thin. I admit that I have had weight loss and weight gain when I’ve been pushed too far. While losing weight can be a good thing if it’s needed, it’s not a good thing if it’s as a result of extreme stress and overwhelm.
Are you experiencing headaches or other physical symptoms during a time of great stress? If so, you could be stretched beyond what you can handle. Our bodies are really good indicators of things that need our attention. For this reason, paying attention to what your body is telling you in a physical way is a very smart thing to do.
Sometimes, our body knows something is wrong long before our mind ever realized it.
Feeling too overwhelmed
I think we can all manage a certain amount of overwhelm and stress. And, we pretty much know how much of these things we can handle.
But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and physically exhausted long before you have felt these things in the past, take notice.
If you’ve answered yes to even a few of these, here’s what you need to do.
While I can’t offer you a solution to your specific situation as the variables are endless, I can give you some things to think about that can get the ball rolling in restoring a more manageable lifestyle.
Examine your daily life and routines
Are there things that you can delegate to others. Go over your calendar, your daily list, your more long-range projects and ask, “which of these can only I do?” Then, delegate the tasks that can be done by someone other than you to others appropriately.
Determine what your three primary (most important) priorities should be according to the phase of life you are currently in. Then, use these things as your filter for determining what you do and what you don’t do every day. Your every day life must be in alignment with your overall priorities, goals, and objectives. If you are filling your calendar, your days, and your down time with things that do not support these things, they must go.
No matter what we face, learning more about it is always a good thing. One of the best things I can offer you when you’re stretched too thin is to invite you to the challenge that was created just for you in this season.
It’s a free challenge that has transformed the lives of thousands of others for more than three years. It’s a challenge that arrives in your email inbox with a new piece for five days so you can work at your own pace. You can complete this in your own time, and you can take as much time as you need to work through each step.
Trust me, it’s short, sweet, and super actionable, yet it packs a powerful punch in helping you feel more grounded, more in control, and more at peace in your life no matter where you are.
Pursue your passions
What desire, what dream, or what passion has been on your heart that you have been putting on hold? Maybe you have been dreaming of writing a book, maybe it is applying for a different position at work or within your job field, or maybe you have been wanting to volunteer within your community.
It may seem counter-intuitive to take on something new if you are feeling overwhelmed, but squelching our spirits can take a huge emotional toll on us every day. Sometimes even just putting the wheels in motion to accomplishing our dreams can provide us with the sense of contentment we have been looking for.
I have spoken of grounding yourself in Five Ways to Have a Great Morning, but it is so important. Take time every day to ground yourself. Taking time, even just 15 minutes, to do something that you enjoy. Don’t skip over breathing life into your own spirit thinking that will give you more time in your day. Doing so will only cost you much more in the long run.
Give yourself permission and grace
At times, we just need to give ourselves permission and grace to do what we have to in order to keep our head above water. Life is full of seasons and life can be hard. Sometimes, we put the practical things listed above in place, and then we give ourselves permission and grace to focus on ourselves and what we need to make it through the day.
Do you need a little more of permission and grace in your life?
Life, people, circumstances. These can all be so demanding of us, but being stretched too thin can affect our physical and emotional health in negative ways. Being vigilant in maintaining a sense of balance in our lives can help us make adjustments before things go too far.
Take a step back and examine where you are today. Then make some adjustments to achieve a more healthy lifestyle. This will benefit you and those around you in such a positive way.
In all honesty, you don’t have to accept being stressed out and burned out. You deserve better. You deserve to feel better.
It starts with recognizing where you are and then leaning how to do things differently than you have been. Start living a life you love, starting today.
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