You've taken on too many jobs, have piles of unpaid bills, your children complain that you're not spending enough time with them and your family is demanding. It feels as if there are too many people needing too many things from you and all you'd rather do is hide under a duvet. What do you do to regain control over your life?
When things spiral out of control, it is completely understandable that all you want to do is run away, but by denying that you've lost control, you only allow things to get even more out of hand.
First prize is not to find yourself in such a position to start with, but in the real world, everyone feels overwhelmed and out of control at some point or another.
How do you get yourself out of the vicious circle and regain control?
Take a step back
Put time aside for reflection. Admit to yourself that you are not coping that well and make a commitment to rectify the situation.
Prioritise and delegate
Make a list of all the things you need to do. What are the most important things that need to be done first? What are the second most important tasks? Consider carefully whether there are any tasks which could be done by someone other than yourself.
For example: can a grandparent help out with your children, even if just for a day or two? Is it possible to get your char to cook a few meals which you could freeze in smaller portions? Can a tax consultant prepare your tax return for you? If you try to tackle everything yourself, you are bound to run into problems. Also consider whether all of the tasks need to be done within the next month or two. Rather shelve less pressing tasks for a later stage.
Once you know what you need to do, draw up a timetable of when tasks need to be completed. At this step you will already be able to predict whether you might run into problems regarding deadlines. Rather negotiate an extension now, than miss a deadline. Don't set unrealistic goals – this will only make you feel like a failure and you will be tempted to throw in the towel once again.
If you are stressed, it is easy to reach for the nearest bottle of wine, packet of cigarettes or cup of coffee. While all these might help you relax initially, they all increase anxiety and may make you feel that you are not in control. If you can at least start taking care of yourself by eating properly and cutting down on substances, you will already feel more in control.
Go to bed a bit earlier at night. Stress plays havoc on a person's immune system and your body needs plenty of rest in order to ward off infection. If you are not exercising, start now – even if it is only for half an hour, three times a week.
Take time out
Don't fill your spare time with several appointments to meet people – there is plenty of time to be a social butterfly once you have things more under control. Opt for activities that will centre yourself, such as a session in a flotation tank, labyrinth walking or a massage.
- (Ilse Pauw, Health24, July 2006)