Has it ever happened to you? You put your hands to your head, press hard, and think “it is all too much!”
When you think about it, the daily stresses of our 21st century lifestyle places a tremendous burden on our psyche as we cram our busy days with more chores and more tasks in a never-ending effort to stay ahead of the game. Add prepping and the pursuit of homesteading and survival skills to our busy lives and, well, there is not much time left for eating and sleeping let alone leisure activities.
Work, household chores, family responsibilities, prepping tasks, walking the dog, paying the bills, shopping for groceries . . . when does it end? Now I can only speak for myself but periodically yes, I become a drama queen and start slamming doors and grouching at people, further calling attention to the fact I have reached my functional limit.
Being human and thereby vulnerable, from time to time we all take on more than we can handle. So how do we cope? Quite honestly, sometimes we don’t and we suffer mini-melt-downs to relieve the stress. Even so, we still need to pick ourselves up and do our best to move forward, one tiny step at a time.
So how do we get through those rough spots? Some take drugs but unless the situation is dire or there is a physical component, who wants that? Instead, today I offer up some tips for coping during stressful and uncertain times.
12 Tips for Coping When it is All Too Much
1. Listen to your Inner Self. When you feel you are at the breaking point, stop and ask yourself why. Is it the work? Are you tired? Did something upset you? You need to answer these questions before you can take action and restore your balance.
2. Make a List. Make a list of what you need to accomplish then pick three things and do them. Some people with pick the most difficult items and others will pick the easiest. It does not matter. What does matter is that sense of accomplishment once you are done. Instead of working on a lot of things at once and getting none of them done, finish those three things then rejoice in knowing that you achieved a modicum of success.
3. Shout less. Shouting (or yelling) is a natural reaction to stress. We all do it. The thing about shouting, however, is that it creates even more stress. Case in point; try raising your voice – okay yell – and watch what happens to little kids or even dogs when that happens. You can almost see them withdraw visually within themselves or in some cases, go hide. So take a breath, count to 3 and lower your voice.
4. Care About Something. If life is a mess and you feel out of control, find something to care about that you can control. This will not eliminate the crisis or any stress or fear you may be feeling, but it will help distract you from the instigating circumstances and allow you to divert your focus to something positive.
5. Stop and Savor the Small Things. There is reason people enjoy chocolate and other treats. The addictive qualities of caffeine not withstanding, stepping away for even ten minutes and enjoying a cup of raspberry tea or a piece of yummy dark chocolate. Even a phone call with a close friend or a short nap may give you enough of a break to compose yourself and set you on a path to getting things done rather than stress about the never ending list of to-do’s. These are small things but being small does not diminish their importance in helping you feel balanced.
6. Pick your battles. Let’s face it – some battles are not worth fighting. You would think that it would be easy to fight it out and then be done with it. But scraping and fighting are tiresome – whether it involves nagging your spouse or your kids to do their chores or whether it is a battle with yourself to get just one more thing done at the end of the day.
7. Unplug from your Digital Life. Turn off the computer, the iPad, the cell phone and the TV. The digital world seems to be everywhere but that particular flavor of “everywhere” is not always a good place to be. Make friends with yourself again by stepping away and learning the merits of enjoying time and space in it’s own right without the flash and dash of a screen. And while you are unplugged, why not try a bit of one-to- one interaction with another human or a pet?
8. Pursue a hobby. Craft model airplanes, knit a scarf or take up ballroom dancing. Whatever your pleasure, take some time out to pursue a hobby that interests you. A hobby will engage your mind and nourish your soul as you do something pleasurable just for the fun of it.
9. Prepare for the future. This may sound counter-intuitive since but when it is all too much, busy yourself with preparing for the future when times may be more difficult. This will take your mind off of the stresses at hand plus empower and strengthen you with the knowledge that your are doing something productive and positive.
10. Handwrite a letter or put your thoughts in a journal or blog. Writing is cathartic. Did you know that I started Backdoor Survival to relieve my angst after the 2009 economic meltdown?
11. Be Silly and Go Play. Act like a kid. Giggle. When everything around you is serious, laugh. Remember the childhood game ”kick the can”? Well get an old can and kick it. That is what I mean by silly. Do something no sane grownup will do and you just might re-discover the inner kid again – the happy, less stressed-out little kid.
12. Fire up the Diffuser. Add a calming essential oil such as lavender or frankincense to your diffuser and let the healing aroma sooth you into oblivion. No diffuser? Light some scented candles instead.
The Final Word
Having too much stuff goes far beyond the physical properties of having stuff. Too much stuff can also relate to too much to do and the spiral of defeat that “toomuchness” brings.
If you are afflicted with so much to do that your head hurts, try some of these tips and remember, your feelings are normal, you are not mentally off balance, your symptoms are not uncommon and most of all, being overwhelmed when it is all too much is not incurable and with time, will pass.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: In addition to my favorite book on de-cluttering (clutter is stressful), here are some reader favorites from 39 Fantastic Prepping Tips plus some of the items mentioned in this article.
It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff: This little $10 book, is what got me started in removing the excess clutter from my life. Since then I have ready many books by Peter Walsh and they are all an easy read and a most excellent source for motivation to get over the “too-much-ness” syndrome that we all seem to suffer.
ZAQ Dew Aromatherapy Diffuser: This essential oil diffuser uses water and essential oils to make make a mist of micro-particles and disperse them into the air. No heating or burning means the properties of the oil are not broken down. Low energy use. The really cool thing is that the light (which can be turned off) changes colors all by its own self. Very soothing and I love it!
Streamlight Nano Light Keychain LED Flashlight: Extremely small and light weight yet it will throw off a decent amount of super-bright light. At just .36 ounces and 1.47 inches long, the Streamlight Nano Light Keychain Flashlight will take up a minimum of space in your pocket or bag.
Paracord Survival Bracelet: Why a Paracord Bracelet? So you always have some of this useful cord on your person!
Windstorm Safety Whistle: I have many cheap whistles but for in my bug out bag, I stash the Windstorm whistle. I have tested it and this particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you.
Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.
Blocklite Mini Compact Size Ultra Bright 9V LED Flashlight: One of my readers (James) turned me on to the Blocklite. I now own four. There is a similar flashlight called the Pak-Lite (which is more expensive) but it does not have a high-low switch like this one. Less than $10.
Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios: This book covers the basics of prepping including food storage, water purification, financial and medical preparedness and communication during a crisis. It goes beyond the basics, however, with the addition of charts, checklists and worksheets to help you stay organized in your preparedness efforts.
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A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.