Have you ever been at your breaking point? Stressed out, overwhelmed, in desperate need of a spa day (preferably with copious amounts of chocolate).
Perhaps your 2 year old has hit the apex of her ‘acting out’ drama.
Maybe your health is poor. You’ve been sick one too many times this year. You are just plain exhausted.
You are feeling isolated. You catch snippets of Friends reruns at the doctor’s office and remember a time when you actually had time to connect with your friends. Now your only connection is the like button on Facebook.
It’s shallow, meaningless, and not satisfying. But its the only connection with adult friends that you’ve got.
It’s not that you don’t love your life. It’s just that your life is hard. Maybe your marriage is in a rut. Maybe your career has stalled.
Maybe you just want to go to the bathroom without your kids flinging the door open and your dog sticking his big head in your lap.
A Simple Way to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
When your life is not going well or you feel like your life is out of control, it is easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. However, if you trust in God and follow this one simple method, you will likely be able to improve your situation in short order.
I have to tell you. I have absolutely been there. Not long ago, I believe I was at my personal breaking point. I was emotionally numb, spiritually empty, and devoid of energy or motivation. I felt like my life was completely out of control and the only thing I could do was mope around and bury myself in Facebook and mediocre TV shows.
You’ve been there too, haven’t you? We all have. Maybe when we give advice to new Moms, we shouldn’t just prepare them for the sleepless nights of infancy. Perhaps we should also prepare them for the sheer exhaustion and profound feelings of isolation they will likely encounter at various stages throughout the rest of their kid’s childhood.
I was desperate
I was desperate, so I reached out to a friend (and mentor) for guidance on how to dig out of the valley. The advice she gave me was, ‘one sock at a time.’ When you have a pile of laundry sitting on the floor, ready to be folded, don’t try to fold everything at once. Instead, just focus on folding one sock at a time.
Are you overwhelmed? Is your life spiraling out of control? Do you feel isolated? Maybe instead of trying to fix everything at once, you should instead focus on improving one issue at a time. Then, once that issue is dealt with, you can move on to something else without getting frustrated.
‘One Sock at a Time’ Method for Digging Out of Overwhelm
This is how you do it:
- Pray. Pray first and pray often. It doesn’t matter how overwhelmed you are. God is there for you. It doesn’t matter how out of control you feel your life is. God is in control. Pray.
- Write it Down: Write down every area of your life that is not going well.. even the small ones.
- Evaluate: Evaluate the list and re-organize it based on a few criteria:
- least to most significant problems (or vice-versa)
- easiest to most difficult problems to fix (or vice-versa)
- Pray again: There very well may be issues on your list that you can’t fix. However, you can pray about them. Continue to bring those issues before God. However, resolve not to expend energy to fix something you cannot change.
- Prioritize: Of the issues that are left, pick the one that is most important to you– the one that would have the greatest impact on improving your situation. This will be your top priority. This will be your first sock.
- Focus: Focus your energy on your top priority issue and write down concrete actions you can take to make improvements.
- Pray Some More: Commit your action plan to God.
- Review the list again. Identify the easiest and/or least significant issue. How easy would it be to fix this issue? Could you manage to tackle this issue concurrently with the top priority issue? If so, repeat steps 6 and 7. If not, leave it alone.. for now.
- Move to item #2: As time goes by, once you feel the top priority issue was been resolved, move down the list.
Note #1: You may never resolve every issue on your list. However, methodically and prayerfully working through the most important and easiest issues first will undoubtedly help you feel more in control, less overwhelmed, less isolated.
Note #2: You will gain momentum as you proactively seek to tackle these issues. You will become stronger, and it is likely that as you work through your list of issues, you will have more success sooner.
How did it turn out for me?
How did it work out for me? Well, clearly I can’t fix everything. However, I took my friend’s advice and prayerfully considered how best to improve my situation. Within a few weeks, I felt more in control when dealing with daughter’s misbehavior, my marriage and friendships were strengthened, I had a plan of action in place to improve things at work, and I was taking small but positive steps towards improving my health.
Most importantly though, I was reminded once again that God has a plan for my life and He has a plan for your life too. God is in control, especially when we are not. God loves us. He doesn’t want us to fail, hurt, be overwhelmed, etc… However, He does want us to trust Him. I learned that if I placed my trust in Him and listened to His direction in my life, I really could not fail.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges, but it does mean that I never have to work through these challenges alone… and that is very comforting.