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10 Tips for the Overwhelmed

Feeling stressed with all that's on your plate? Fall can do that, even if you're not in school. Here are ten tips to help you put life back in perspective and regain a healthy sense of control—preferably before lunch:

1. Remind yourself it's not a contest.
When you're feeling overloaded, one of the worst things you can do is compare your life to someone else—or let them do that to you. Your overload is your overload. Why not simply own it?

2. Shore up your sleep.
We could and probably should do an entire Pep Talk on this. But any investment you make in improving your sleep will no doubt pay dividends in every other area of your life—including your perspective and your mood. Shout-out to my childhood friend Jeff Scheuer, a national sleep expert who shared ten best "sleep" practices in my book Thriving at Work.

3. Remember your why. Write it down and review it daily.
It's always easier to go the extra mile when you remind yourself why it matters. Who are the people who benefit from your work? What are the joys you find in your work? Get in touch with the practical difference you make—it will give you the energy to persevere. Along those lines, have a vision for how you want to go through your day. It's a lot easier to go through the day calmly, for example, when you've set that as your vision or goal.

4. Schedule regular downtime.
What if you were available to everyone but yourself? #RecipeForBurnout The heavier your load, the more downtime you need. Block it on your calendar and keep this time for you—to rest, recharge, run errands, or do nothing at all.

5. Make lists.
I remember one particularly grueling semester of school when it seemed there was no way I could finish everything on my plate—from writing heavy papers to finding a summer internship on the other side of the country. Making a list was the only thing that made the load more manageable. And it must have worked because I somehow earned straight A's, landed the internship, and used that internship to get a full-time job in my field. It all started with a list. Where could lists make your life easier?

6. Clear your mind.
Ever go into a meeting feeling distracted by everything else on your plate? Or be sitting through a concert, thinking about an email you need to send? This is another place where lists can help. Before going into your next event, jot down all the things that could be distractions, along with your next one to three moves once you're done. Watch what this does to your ability to focus.

7. Say no to new commitments.
Again, this is where it helps to have a vision. Example: If your goal or vision is to wake up feeling rested, it's easier to say no to opportunities that would make that goal more difficult. Which brings us to our next point.

8. Unplug.
Yes, you can wear your Apple Watch in the shower but do you really need to? Speaking from experience, no. Lower your sensory overload by taking daily breaks from technology. You'll be glad you did.

9. Take more breaks.
When you find you can't afford to take a break, that may be when you need one the most. It doesn't have to be elaborate. A quick change of scenery, some fresh air, or a few stretches can give your mind a much-needed recharge. I can't tell you how many times a quick break has surprised me with solutions to difficult problems. Look for ways to build breaks into your day.

10. Stay anchored with daily routines.
As you read this, I'll be getting ready to return to the classroom for the first time in four years—not as a student but as the instructor (three-credit graduate course on career development). If I let it, this opportunity would take over my life for the next three months. But I know I'll be much more valuable to my students if I show up not frazzled but calm and smiling.

Little routines such as making my bed, sitting down to a good meal, and taking time daily to laugh with friends are just some of the routines that will make this possible and fun.

Which brings us to our last point: Yes, there are stressful seasons of life. You may be in one. But there are things you can do to tame the stress, make your life more manageable and enjoyable, and spread that enjoyment to those around you.

What can you do today that will bring the greatest sense of joy and calm? Do it. And if the spirit moves you, I invite you to use the buttons below to share this post on social media.

Photo of Gina DeLapa

Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at UltimateReminders.com/mondaymorningpeptalk.