Almost every woman that I’ve worked with over the last 8 years has one thing in common: at some point we all get lost in the weeds.
And by lost in the weeds I mean so overwhelmed by the day to day stuff that’s in front of us that it’s very easy to lose sight of the big vision. Whether it’s your company’s success, your growth as an author, or perhaps just how amazing of a mom you are and how you’re radically changing the future of your family, we tend to lose track of those things when we get in the weeds.
In the weeds is a term that I learned when I waited tables.
Basically it means having so much to do at once that there isn’t enough of you to go around.
There were too many tickets hanging, too many appetizers for you to run, people needing their checks, drinks needing refilled, and you’re in such chaos that you lose sight of the overarching theme of what’s supposed to be happening. You’re in the weeds and you can’t see over the tops of the plants to know what’s actually going on around you.
This happens in business and minsitry all the time, and goodness this happens at home so much. I remember when my kids were little it was a daily occurrence. I would lose track of what time it was, sometimes I would miss appointments even if I set an alarm on my phone because one of them would run off with my phone.
My goal for this article is to give you a few easy tips that will help you get out of the weeds and shut down that overwhelm when you find that things are getting a little too chaotic:
1. Hit pause
Other than life threatening situations, I think we forget that we can hit pause at any time. One of the easiest ways to get out of the weeds is to hit pause and take 60 seconds for yourself, more if possible, but at least 60 seconds. Turn the TV off, turn the phone off, put your book down, whatever it is you need to do, grab 60 seconds for yourself and don’t do anything other than breathe. Don’t worry about what’s in your head or the mess that the kids are making. Just take 60 seconds for yourself, do some deep breathing, and just recognize that you’re OK.
2. Slow it down
One of the biggest traps of overwhelm is that we feel like if we could just do a little bit more we would get caught up, right? If I could just do 5 things at once instead of the 3 that I’m doing right now I’m sure I could get caught up with everything.(I know-It sounds ridiculous when I say it aloud, but we believe it, right?) But here is what happens: we push and we push, we go faster, we make mistakes, and we end up making more work for ourselves in the long run. We try to shortcut and we end up having to double back and do something a second time which completely kills any time saving we had accomplished by trying to rush through it. So my second tip for you is to SLOW DOWN. Physically slow yourself down, take a few seconds for some deep breathing, tell your mind and your body that you’re not in freak out mode and you’re OK and you’ve got this covered. Slow your breathing, take some nice deep breaths, get up and maybe wiggle around a little bit. Do something that’s going to disrupt that feeling of chaos and panic that’s rising in your chest when you get to overwhelm. Once your body recognizes that you’re safe, that you’re not in a dangerous situation, you’ll begin to think a little more clearly. You’ll begin to be a little more efficient again, without running the risk of forgetting and making so many mistakes because you’re in the brain fog of chaos.
3. Learn to say “NO”
Alright moms, this one’s for you(and maybe for me). We are awful at saying no. Sometimes, the key to overwhelm isn’t doing more in less time, it’s learning to say no to things that we never should’ve said yes to in the first place. I promise, there are things that you’re worried about right this moment that your kids will never remember. You can’t do it all. Give yourself permission to be the best mom that you can be right now with the resources you have right now, and not constantly be stretching and pushing yourself to do more. And if you’re not a mom don’t skip this part because this applies to you too. As Christian women we are most often taught to put everybody else’s needs first, and to say yes because saying no is somehow un-Christian, or not being a good servant, or selfish. But I want to call B.S. on that right now. Saying no is a requirement in life. You have to be able to say no when something isn’t a good fit, and drop the guilt. You might as well start now.
4. Drop the guilt
Just because you’ve learned to say no, doesn’t mean you’ve learned to say no without feeling guilty. Here’s the thing: saying no and being overwhelmed by guilt is just as bad (if not a little worse) than saying yes to something that you don’t have the bandwidth for. When we feel an overwhelming amount of guilt and we’re kicking ourselves for it and we’re telling ourselves “if we were only a better person” or “smarter” or :prettier” or “had more money” then we could do that thing, it’s actually worse than being overwhelmed. Because now it’s feeding this sense of never being enough, which leads to more overwhelm. It’s like throwing some sort of Miracle Gro on the doubts that you’re carrying around in your head. So learning to say no is important, learning to say no without beating yourself up is even more important. You are more than capable of saying no to something. The people who are coming to you and asking for help will survive. They will be able to move on with their life even if you say no and you need to learn how to move on with your life even after you’ve said no.
5. Don’t Self Medicate
This is going to be the hardest one and here’s why: I think right now (more than ever before) we have permission to self medicate in a lot of ways that are really unhealthy. We self medicate with coffee, with wine, with chocolate, with our phones, with TV, and with lots of unhealthy relationships. There are numerous ways we can self medicate that are illegal, but there are also lots of ways that are legal and permissible, and to some extent are considered expected and funny. How many jokes have you seen lately about moms who say “The only way we get through raising our kids is because of wine/chocolate?” Those are all setting us up for really unhealthy patterns of not being able to cope with our day to day life without some sort of chemical influence, without something that releases those happy chemicals in our brain. Sisters, we have to get away from that, because the only way we get to the other side of these doubts and overwhelm and fear is by going through them. If you hit pause and stay in the overwhelm, if you mask it, if you shove it down into a barrel and pretend like it’s not there it becomes a spiritual junk drawer, or that closet that has everything in it. At some point it’s going to bust open and your stuff is going to go flying everywhere. That’s what self medicating does. Self medicating releases happy chemicals into our body, even if what we are doing isn’t healthy, that little high we get makes us want more.It gives us a false sense of feeling better, safe, loved, or wanted. BUT we’re not dealing with the junk and it’s just filling up that drawer. Do whatever it takes to go through the junk. Whether its counseling, therapy, coaching, hiring a babysitter so that you can have some time to yourself.
Make caring for yourself a priority BEFORE you get to overwhelm!
If there’s no money for the help you need, find a way to swap your time or talents. There are other overwhelmed women our there with gifts that are different than yours. Find them and collaborate. Whatever it takes to work through the junk, do it.
You’re absolutely worth it and you’re absolutely capable of standing toe to toe with what’s hurting you and coming out on top.
Just trust yourself and your God to get you through it.
Christian Life and Leadership Coach , Angela J Herrington, loves helping women find freedom and fulfillment in their God given calling. She teaches women how to recognize, cultivate, and unleash their God given leadership ability. A true Gen Xer-Angela loves thinking outside the box, combining things that are seemingly unrelated, and helping women create a unique life that perfectly suits their soul.
With 8 years of life, business, social media, and leadership coaching under her belt Angela a dynamic speaker and writer who creates enormous value for her audiences. She is known for crushing complex topics down to bite sized pieces and sending her audience home with actionable steps to apply their learning.
Angela is a Lark’s Song Certified Life Coach who reaches hundreds of thousands of women in 40+ countries each month on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and two blogs.
As the founder of Broken Beautiful BOLD Women’s Ministry, AngelaJHerrington.com, Christian Women Who Lead, The Calling Course, The Impact Incubator, and the XGen Christian Women’s Leadership Project, Angela receives rave reviews at women’s ministry events, writer’s conferences, and small business workshops.
Angela, her husband, and five children live in her home state of Indiana. Angela has served on the Board of Directors for Christian Coaches International, as Vice Chair of the Carey Services Board of Directors, and held multiple positions in her local church, scouting organizations, and schools.
She holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Indiana Wesleyan and a Master’s in Leadership from Wesley Seminary. Angela’s short story “The Turkey Trail“ was published in the collection Naturally Yours: Stories About Indiana’s State Parks and Reservoirs. She has been published in Hope for Women and HOPE is Now magazines.