Overwhelmed is how many of us would categorize our feelings at the end of the day. Students, workers, single parents, executives, travelers trying to catch up with everything they missed while out, and those returning from vacation all know the feeling. It's that crushing blow that you have too much to do and not enough time and or resources to do it, so your first inclination is to scream or push it all away.
Another word for overwhelmed is stressed. You know what it is and how bad it is and so do I.
UMASS Lowell reports, "Job stress is estimated to cost American companies more than $300 billion a year in health costs, absenteeism and poor performance. In addition, consider these statistics:
- 40% of job turnover is due to stress.
- Healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.
- Job stress is the source of more health complaints than financial or family problems.
- Depression is the largest single predictor of absenteeism and work related performance.
- Insurance data indicates insurance claims for stress related industrial accidents cost nearly twice as much as non stress related industrial accidents."
A four-letter word in many respects seemingly unconnected to overwhelm or at best the cause for it. Not so.
God cursed the earth and told Adam it was by the sweat of his brow that he would eat (or be able to sustain himself). Since then, man has accomplished nothing without work.
The invention of the airplane and Internet, as well as maintaining positive relationships all required or require work.
Work is good for the soul.
Mariah, who trains colts for roping and ranches and who I sat next to on the plane this week, understands how hard work strengthens and ennobles. She works 12-hour days getting the horses ready and feels good about herself and her work at the end of the day.
Overcome Overwhelm Through Work
When I feel overwhelmed, there is only one antidote - work.
I wish it were the escapism I practice on LinkedIn, Facebook, ESPN.com, news feeds, or a hundred other things I think will act as a relief valve. Don't get me wrong - sometimes checking out is the only way of maintaining sanity. But it does little to reduce my list of priorities.
Working on the list of things to be done, combined with going with the flow so I know which things are not high priority and can wait or I can leave unfinished, are the only two things that can restore balance (of course in addition to divine help).
When I feel overwhelmed or stressed with all that is to be done, I get to work. I'm not perfect at it. I still push it off and scream and wish I could go another route.
But ultimately, when I can't push it away any more, I list what needs to be done and I start working. I don't even care if it's my highest priority task at the time, I just start getting something knocked off the list so I can feel better. As I do, the priorities seem clearer and I get done what needs to be.
And you know what, from the successful millionaires, entrepreneurs, athletes, Olympians, and others I've interviewed I found one common trait - they work hard.