Overwhelmed? You CAN cope!

People’s lives just seem to be getting busier. So much to do, so little time… it sometimes can feel as though we have to be Superman or Wonder Woman just to get through the average day! People often ask me how I manage to fit so much into my life. Often, I just jokingly reply that I don’t sleep much, but in reality that isn’t quite true. We all need rest and down time, and on a personal level I do sleep – at least 7 hours a night anyway.

Below I have outlined some steps for you to work through if you are feeling that you just have too much pressure on you, some nutrients that you’ll need to help you through these tough times, and which foods contain the highest levels. Here’s to being busy but effective!

1. Clear your head

This is vital. Before plunging in to one of the many tasks you have to deal with, take some deep breaths, go out for a walk or do some other form of exercise to oxygenate the brain & body, and help you to concentrate. You can afford to take the 10 to 20 minutes required to do this. Avoid it and you won’t be as effective as you might think.

2. Prioritise

At a time management seminar I attended many years ago, the speaker divided a large square into 4 smaller squares. In each of the smaller squares, he wrote one of the following:

a)                  Important and urgent

b)                  Important and not urgent

c)                   Urgent but not important

d)                  Not important and not urgent

Why not divide your tasks up in this way? Categorise them and do the urgent and important things first. Make a list of them – it is really satisfying to see just how much you have achieved.

What, you might ask, could be urgent but not important? The example given in that particular lecture was the ringing phone. Someone expects an answer. If you have more important things to do, let it go to voicemail and deal with it later. It may only be someone phoning for a chat. Nice as that is, it isn’t helping you with the task at hand. What could be important but not urgent? An example from my current schedule would be some magazine articles that I have been commissioned to write. Important, of course, but not urgent – the deadline is in 6 weeks, so I have plenty of time to research them and get them done.

3. Delegate

We all love to think that we can achieve a huge amount all by ourselves. Some people even believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or an admission of defeat. It isn’t. In fact, it’s actually really sensible. Do you have friends or family members whose skill sets are something that would really help you right now? People love to help their friends and family, and feel a part of something important. If you have the resources, are there things that might be on your “to do” list that you could pay someone else to do? I, for example, employ a gardener, since I don’t have time to look after my outside space properly, and even if I did, he does a better job than I would! Most successful people have an entire team behind them. Who can you call upon for help?

4. Small, achievable tasks?

Is your “to do” list broken down into small, achievable tasks, or is it a little more general? Break it down. If, for example, you are renovating a house, your list of things to do on one day would not just state “renovate house”. It would include a schedule of works, and which trade would be needed at each particular time. Your team might include a builder, plasterer, electrician, plumber, carpenter… get the idea? If your task looks so huge that you don’t know where to start, break it down into smaller chunks. Then it won’t look too daunting. It might not matter where you start, just that you do start. Ever wondered why self-help books, or any other books for that matter, have chapters? No one can just sit down and write a book. Divide it up. People can cope with small, achievable tasks. Make those tasks too big and you just won’t know where to start, and often won’t start, making that feeling of being overwhelmed even worse.  

5. Say no

Really? I’m allowed to say no? Sometimes, you just have to. If you say yes to one thing too many, you will end up having to say no to something else. Do it nicely of course. “I’d love to do that/join you for…/get involved in… etc, but unfortunately my current schedule doesn’t permit. Perhaps we could do it next month instead? Shall we arrange a date for that now?”

You get the idea. I sometimes have to do that with my friends. They are my friends – they understand! Now let’s look at some food to help you to cope with the tasks at hand.

6. Feed your brain

I’ve said it once and I will probably have to say it again – the brain controls everything. And you need to feed it properly to ensure that you are working with clarity and purpose. Foggy thinking helps no one. One of my previous monthly newsletters goes into more detail on this, as does chapter 5 of my latest book, The Whole Body Solution.

For the full lowdown on brain food, have a listen to Feeding the Brain – my CD/MP3 on that very subject.

7. Juice, juice, juice!

Could a daily green juice really help you to avoid stress and achieve more each day? It depends on the ingredients, but if it contains celery, cucumber, sunflower greens and pea shoots, the answer is a resounding yes. Why? Celery is a great source of organic sodium, which feeds the adrenal glands. The adrenals are our stress-response glands, and can become depleted if we are under high stress. Cucumber is hydrating. If we are dehydrated the brain doesn’t work properly. End of story. The green sprouted foods contain masses of magnesium, an alkaline mineral vital for the correct functioning of the nervous system, and pretty important for bone health, too. Up to 80% of the population of most developed countries do not get sufficient magnesium on a daily basis. Green leafed vegetables and sprouted foods are the best dietary sources, as well as wheatgrass juice. Make mine a green one…

8. Protect your immune system

It suffers when you are stressed and overwhelmed. For many ways to improve immune function, see Chapter 6 of my latest book The Whole Body Solution.

9. Get to know maca

An Andean root, maca is available worldwide. It is an adaptogen – meaning that it helps to protect you from the adverse effects of stress. It’s also great for athletes. Add a couple of teaspoons to a smoothie and your adrenals will love you for it.

In summary, we don’t have to feel overwhelmed; there are many things we can do to make our tasks more achievable and sail through the day. Remember, also, the famous quote from Susan Jeffers’ best-selling book Feel the Fear and do it Anyway. She states that whatever it is that you’re concerned about, just tell yourself the following 3 words – “I’ll handle it!”

About Max Tuck

Hippocrates Health Educator. Long term living foods vegan. Athlete, lecturer, author of four books (with the 5th coming soon) and firm advocate of healthy living.
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