Do you ever have the feeling that you might be losing your mind?
Do you ever worry that others might be avoiding you or walking on egg-shells around you?
Do you ever feel totally overwhelmed and that everything might come crashing down at any moment?
Are you scared of being found out?
I hope that you find it reassuring to know that you're not alone. As you know, life and well-being coaching is the corner stone of my work and I see women struggling with these questions very often. Coaching is a very effective way of overcoming these debilitating thoughts, and, as I know that not everyone can afford my premium 1-2-1 coaching service, I want to be able to share some valuable lessons with you completely free.
Stress and overwhelm can turn a sweet and gentle woman into a fire-breathing dragon. Often this behaviour is coupled with emotional outbursts, neediness or, for some, full on introversion and depression. Additionally, this is frequently coupled with weight gain (or weight-loss), digestive issues, bad hair and skin.It's not surprising that this is so common among women; we're put under immense pressures in this day and age to be beautiful, well-groomed and manicured (by society if not by men), be intelligent, well-read, have talents and passions, hopefully be able to cook and additionally manage the house-hold. All of this on top of having our own successful careers, otherwise, we're deemed as "gold-diggers" and, somehow, dishonest and less worthy. How we got to this place is a much longer debate, but what is undeniable is that we women are stressed out.
And so, how do we avoid turning into a hideous monster?
Here are some techniques I've taught clients to successfully overcome their stress and overwhelm.
1) Make a plan. Women love to flow; this quality is very feminine, in fact. Unfortunately our lives have become so much more complicated than they used to be and we have more responsibility now than ever before. The only way to keep yourself sane is to plan. How to plan:
- Do a mind-splurge of everything in your head. Let it all out. You'll find this very cathartic.
- Pull out the essential tasks as well as those that are important to you personally into a new list.
- Note down how much you expect each task to take, then add an extra 25% of time (we always underestimate time – I think it's over-optimism).
- Block out specific times in your diary across the week to fulfill these tasks. You may find that you will have to postpone some items for another week. Or delegate them (see point 5).
- Stick to the plan; you'll need to adjust certain parts as you learn what works and and doesn't work for you, and that's fine. What is key is that you aim to stick to it as closely as possible.
- Reward yourself. After a week of sticking to a plan, especially if you're not used to it, you need a reward to motivate yourself to keep doing it. (Make sure you make that reward all about you!)
2) Stop multi-tasking. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. It's thought that one of the reasons why men are still paid more than women and get higher up in their careers is because they are so focussed on what they do. They don't juggle all the time like we women do. Not only that, recent studies have shown that neither men nor women are most efficient when multi-tasking – so, really, it's a myth. All multi-tasking does is serve to wind us up even more and create more stress and mediocre results. Take that burden off your shoulders and focus on one thing at a time.
3) Say "No" more often. You don't have to do everything for everyone. As women we tend to want to please and find it difficult to say "no" when we really should. Practice this by turning down at least one request or responsibility a day. You are not an omnipresent SuperWoman; attempting to be so will only turn you into a supergrouch.
4) Take time out. We all need down-time. Women are worst at allowing themselves the time to relax, be still and be quiet because of that constant feeling of guilt that we're somehow not doing enough or need to do more, or that all these extra tasks will never be concluded unless we personally take responsibility for them. That's simply not true as you'll see in the next point. In the meantime, set your alarm for sometime in the middle of the day to take at least 10 minutes out to relax and be still. Use a meditation app, such as GetSomeHeadSpace if you need something to listen to. You'll be amazed by how much more grounded and calm you feel when you take time out.
5) Let go of your perfectionism. Ask yourself honestly, "What will happen if this is not perfect but just very good?" This question can be applied to both life and work. I once coached a high achiever client who would get down on her hands and knees once a week to scrub her kitchen floor clean. I asked her, "What would happen if you didn't scrub your floor but just used a mop?" Realising that she didn't need to have perfectly clean floor once a week was a massive burden off her shoulders. Think about where you spend a lot of your energy and ask yourself, "What will happen if this is not perfect but just very good?" Let the perfectionism go.
6) Delegate more. It's not all your responsibility! Farm tasks out to your colleagues at work, your partner, your kids, your friends or pay someone to do them for you. You're worth more than slaving like a dog; you're a beautiful, radiant woman and need to be able to nurture this side of you. For example, I love to cook when I'm not under pressure and do most of it in my household, however, there are times when I've got so much to do that it's a real burden. I've taught myself to ask Adam to help me at these times and the added benefit is that now he's beginning to get a lot better at making food! Make a list now of all the tasks you hate doing (even if you're good at them) that you know that you could delegate to someone else (even if it's a bit more work to start with). Start by delegating one task at a time. If you're delegating to the same person, let that one sink in before you pile on the others.
7) Start a journal. All my clients will smile when they read this as I am a BIG fan of journalling. Why? Because it keeps me sane as it will keep you sane. Read my story here. Journalling is a way of getting all your jumbled up, chaotic thoughts out and processing them. When you journal you understand yourself and your needs better. Getting it out on paper rather than taking it out on the people around you is also going to make everyone else feel happier and safer. I have one gorgeous client who resisted journaling for a long time as she was worried about not having the time to do it right, but then would send me a massive ranting email following a tough week at work, and guess what? She always felt a lot better by the time she clicked send. Now she's started to journal on her own she's really noticing the benefits, feeling calmer, enjoying work more and having better sleep. Remember, for the journal to be effective, don't try to write about everything that happened in your day, just write what's going through your mind. It doesn't need grammar or punctuation; you can even draw pictures if that's what you prefer. You can't get it wrong with journalling. Find a lovely notebook and keep it by your bedsite. Write in it before sleep or first thing in the morning, whatever works best for you. Some people like to carry them round with them during the day too, in case they need to off-load.
8) Get a coach. If all of this sounds like it's going to add to your overwhelm, you'll really benefit from coaching to help you to break these habits down into manageable chunks and embedding them into your life one by one. If you're ready to invest in yourself to make significant changes in your life, contact me now.
9) Take action. Now that you've read this post, what are you going to do? Please share below the three actions you're going to take today to create more calm in your life and prevent yourself from turning into a monster.