“How Am I Going to Get Through the Day?”

Ideas for the overwhelmed.

Posted Apr 21, 2019

Mach5, Flickr, CC2.0
Source: Mach5, Flickr, CC2.0

I can’t get myself out of bed. It's hard even to think about everything I have to do. Ugh. Get dressed—I’ll skip the shower. Sit in the gridlock; I can’t stand it. And mass transit takes much longer still, as I smell the B.O. of the other sardines on the deafening train who didn’t shower.

Then I’ll sit there, pushing paper, covering my ass, smiling at those phonies. For what? So  I can keep the records for this non-profit, no different than keeping the records for that widget company I worked for before. Whether they donate to us or to some other charity, whether they buy our widget or the competitors' widget, BFD. Then I'm back in the traffic, then back home where  I have to deal with the kids, help make dinner, help with the homework. Clean up. Be nice to spousey-poo?! Uuhhhhhh.

The reverie is broken by the kids busting in:

     I’m hungry!

     How come you’re not up, again?

     What should I wear? 

     That’s my toy!

     Anthony is hitting me!

     Where’s my lunch!

     It’s late! Dad had to leave for work early. You've gotta drive us to school.

With the kids there, you manage to resist doing what you want to do: pull the covers over your head. So you murmur, “In a minute.”

Of course, many people don't think that way, but it's more common than you might imagine. As always, there are no pat answers but one or more of these may help:

Is it a wakeup call?

Do you need a new job, a new attitude, a new approach to work, a new hobby, a new relationship? To cut back or stop your substance abuse? Have you been in denial about a physical or mental health issue that requires more attention, whether just with exercise or with counseling and/or a drug?

Are you delegating enough to your kids?

It’s amazing how much most young kids can do. Yes, you may need to take some time to get them good at, for example, making their own breakfast, but that short-term investment can pay off big.

Are you delegating enough to others?

For example, if driving the kids to school is too burdensome, have you been as thorough in trying to find someone who could pick up and drop off your kids, say, a stay-at-home parent? For instance, could you send a note to your child’s teacher asking if s/he might query the class? Or a note to the PTA president?

Most days, do you have enough to look forward to?

Have you made friends at work? Is there a cool new skill you’d like to work on, for example, Adobe Illustrator or public speaking? Do you have after-work sports or artistic pursuits? Sometimes looking forward to that softball game, writer’s group, or dance class can lubricate your way through the day’s annoyances.

Is it an existential issue?

At some point, nearly everyone wonders, “Is that all there is?” Even if you’ve optimized your life, you might think, “Life is hard, too rarely fun, too rarely making a difference. I just want to pull the covers over my head, literally or metaphorically." Best you can do is focus on what is good or you can improve and accept the rest.  Easier said than done.

Those darn baby steps.

When you’ve done the best you can regarding the macro issues, in the end, what’s usually helpful is the clichéd baby steps: What’s the next little thing you need to do?

The takeaway

Chronic overwhelm tends to spiral you down further. I hope that one or more of this article’s ideas will stem your descent.

I read this aloud on YouTube.