When External "Stuff" Overwhelms

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CA-overwhelm

If your workload isn’t enough to overwhelm you, there is often outside “stuff” that zaps your energy, and even your soul.

As I write this, our community and nation are facing crisis. I won’t be using this forum to discuss my viewpoints…I like the blog to remain evergreen and somewhat sadly, I have a feeling that whenever this post is read now and in the future, there will be some type of external situation that can distract and interrupt your productivity at work. These include:

  • Community, national, or worldwide events that are tragic, confusing, or deeply sad
  • Personal issues in your relationships with those close to you
  • Health issues you may be dealing with
  • Financial trouble
  • Acts of nature such as earthquakes, floods, and fires.

Whether we want to admit it or not, these external forces can wrap around our brains and hearts and make it very hard to focus on the work in front of us. Here are a few ideas to help.

Realize that maybe, it’s okay to be distracted for a bit. Events and personal situations require adequate time to process. Business owners should be aware that their team members may need some time to personally adjust to major events or personal issues.  Sensitivity to leaves of absence, a temporarily reduced schedule, or assistance programs such as counseling can show your concern for your team. If you are a solo-preneur like me, allowing yourself time to refresh and recalibrate can ultimately help your productivity.

Do good work. I have people in my life that have jobs that that regularly put them in direct contact with people going through difficult times. My best encouragement to them is to “Do good work”–to do what they are trained and called to do. They may only interact with a small circle of people, but good work has a ripple effect.  The same applies to those of us not directly involved with front line care positions such as those of first responders, medical personnel or counselors. The work WE are called to is still an important element of life and community. Do good work and it will have a positive affect.

Understand the difference between the circle of concern and the circle of influence. This concept does not originate with me (see this link for a reference to Stephen Covey) But it’s a helpful idea. In our lives, there are areas that we have a direct influence on…for example, our immediate family, workplace or neighborhood. (This could extend a little farther depending on our platforms.) But outside of that is a circle of concern–things that may get our attention and cause us to ponder, but for practical purposes and our own sanity, we cannot get directly involved in other than perhaps giving to a cause or offering a word of encouragement or do some tangible act of service. Examples may be things that happen in other families, many states away, etc.  This difference is NOT to say you never show love outside your own circle, but that you remain intentional about your emotional limitations and use your best gifts for the circle of influence you most logically have–not neglecting your own family, clients, etc while serving others beyond your immediate circles.Concern Influence

Take time for self-care. I like to remember that you “cannot pour from an empty pitcher.” Find ways to recalibrate yourself–preferably away from screens and social media. Interacting with pets or getting out into nature, or spending time with close friends or family are all ways you can regain perspective. One of my clients specializes in this and provides regular encouragement and ideas for self-care.

Limit your exposure. I know cake exists, but I don’t have to eat it everyday. I struggle with this when it comes to information (not cake so much.) The internet allows us to quickly search anything, dive into social media feeds, or scan headlines. But too much information can weary and disturb our equilibrium. I’m not suggesting never to get a summary of headlines or listen to commentators, but a steady diet of talk radio, social media, and news can create an imbalance in our spirit and even bring on a feeling of hopelessness and ingratitude. Set whatever boundaries you need to that cooperate with your tolerance for negativity (which most of that stuff is.)  Recently, I’ve found a weekday summary called The Skimm to be a helpful but not overwhelming summary of world and US news. It’s written with a conversational tone and has a balance of quick topics to keep negativity at bay.  I’ve also subscribed to a local version in our region called Greenville Today.

While we can’t always change outside circumstances, we can change our approach to them and what we allow to invade our peace. You are the gatekeeper for what you allow in your head and heart. Take responsibility and spend the energy doing good work instead.