Overwhelmed? Schedule a time out

You’re overwhelmed and I’m suggesting that you add one more thing to the list? Why?! Because if you don’t schedule a time out, my guess it that you will never take one. And your health – physical and mental – is likely to suffer.

Does this sound like you?

Try to juggle too many things at once.

Put yourself last on the to-do-list or not on the list at all.

Often say yes when you really want to say no.

Why is it that women, in particular, often go straight to yes?

Think they can do it all.

Feel guilty.

Feel selfish.

Worry about being judged.

Ever hear of the term helium hand? It describes how your hand automatically goes up even when you don’t want it to. Your brain may be screaming no, no, no, but that hand just goes up and with a smile, you say, “I’ll be happy to do it.”

Deb Bergeron told me about helium hand. She’s a personal and professional life coach who runs a business called Ocean of Possibilities.

“What I hear every day from clients,” says Deb, “is that they’re overwhelmed and over committed, and just have too much on their plates.”

She can’t make the stress and chaos disappear, but what she tries to do is help people manage it better. She teaches them how to say no. It usually involves taking baby steps, “but every time you say no, you get closer to the yes you really want,” she says.

Those baby steps to saying no include:

• Notice how you’re feeling and give it a name. Exhausted? Irritable? Overwhelmed?

• Listen to warning signals your body might be giving you. Backache? Headache?

• Once you’ve identified how you feel, have some compassion for yourself. Don’t tell yourself to “tough it up.” Admit how you’re feeling and give yourself the empathy that you usually reserve for everybody else but you.

• Pay attention to what energizes you and makes you happy.

• Pay attention to what drains you and makes you feel resentful.

• Schedule a time out 10 to 15 minutes every day to be alone and quiet. Block out the past and the future. Focus on the present and what you need at that particular moment.

Adding the time out to your schedule and making it a ritual is critical, says Deb.

“I think it takes a lot of practice and a conscious choice to make time to recharge our batteries. Putting rituals into place so that we actually take quiet time and listen to ourselves helps us get off the hamster wheel and reevaluate our priorities,” she says.

If learning to say no is harder than you expected, Deb says it’s probably time to channel your “inner mean girl.” Yup, she’s in there somewhere.

The inner mean girl:

Is not super woman.

Runs her own show.

Is in the driver’s seat.

Is the leading lady in her own personal story.

Makes her own decisions.

Nurtures herself.

Doesn’t say yes unless she really means it.

An abundance of research has shown a link between stress and many diseases, including heart disease. Harvard researchers, for instance, uncovered strong links between women’s job stress and cardiovascular disease. The Women’s Health Study, which looked at disease prevention in more than 17,000 female health professionals, showed that women whose work is highly stressful have a 40 pecent increased risk of heart disease compared with their less-stressed colleagues.

Are you willing to continue paying the cost of never saying no? If not, schedule that time out for yourself right now and feel good about it!

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