Blog Post By SCC Therapist, Meagan Turner LBSW

As the weather cools off, fall settles in and the holidays are right around the corner, many people are left feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. We start early and end late. Being busy in society is perceived as an accomplishment, not a downside. Nowadays people feel that if they are not busy, there must be something wrong. Is that really the case? Are others silently judging us if our schedules are not jammed packed from sun up to sun down? I do not have a definite answer. I do know, however, that it is hard for people to say no. We want to make sure that people like us and that we help each other out. It’s innate with who we are. We like to fill our schedules with things we enjoy and people we like.

Being busy is not a crime. But as routines are followed and maintained, it is important to make sure things are manageable. We have to know how much we can put on our plate, before the pile is too big and overwhelming. This is something that I personally have to remind myself. I catch myself time and time again wanting to say yes to everyone who asks. I want to be involved in every committee at work. I want to serve in each group at church. I want to be with my friends and family. I want to do fun things with my husband on the weekends. But at the end of the day, can I really handle it all? I know that I can make time for everything, but by the end of the week, I will be too exhausted to see straight. I have to learn how to say no and how to balance. I do not have to say yes to everything.

Societal pressures make us think that people will condemn us for uttering the word ‘no.’ We want to please our family, our boss, and our friends. We feel bad for taking ‘me time’ and resting. Then again, if we do not take down time and re-energize, is the work we put out and the appearances we make our best? I know that if I’m running on empty, it takes all my effort to smile, let alone actually enjoy myself. We have to prioritize what we do. It may even help to see it in writing. I often make visible lists of things to do, and make sure that I put them in order of actual, not perceived, importance. As I get things done, I feel better about being able to physically mark them off. Whatever works for you, just remember, it is imperative that we make sure the necessities are at the top, and the less important fall in after.

Prioritizing the to-do list isn’t always enough. We have to make time for ourselves, even if it has to be penciled in. Taking even a short amount of time to take a break can help diminish stress and feeling overwhelmed. It does not have to be a full day of kicking back on the couch and doing nothing. It can be thirty minutes of reading or journaling. It can be a 5-10 minute walk around the neighborhood. It even can be ordering pizza and spending the evening at home.

Our schedules and lives are jammed packed. We have a lot to manage and get done. Nonetheless, we have to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves. We don’t ignore taking our car in for routine maintenance, nor should we ignore the same principle for ourselves.