Admit it. It’s that time of year when there’s too much to do and only one of you.
People are pulling at you and your job is pushing you. Responsibilities abound, deadlines are closing in, and the plates you’re juggling are beginning to fall. You feel like you’re running on empty and you know that something’s gotta give.
You and I were not designed to do it all, have it all, or run it all. In fact, God’s words to “Be still” (Psalm 46:10) might be your life-saver this holiday season if you heed them well and consider your health, happiness and relationships as more important than everything you feel needs to get done.
So, to keep your health, sanity, and relationships from spinning out of control this holiday season, here are seven things that need to go when you can’t juggle it all:
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
1. Your guilt feelings for not doing it all.
You are not God, and therefore, you are not expected to do it all. So, when it comes to letting some things go, let go of your guilt first. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone “I’m sorry. I’m overbooked at the moment.” It’s also not a sin to humble yourself and admit “I bit off more than I could chew. I’m sorry I didn’t realize my limitations, but now I do. I am going to need to back out or get some assistance. “
Spend a little time in God’s Word each day to reinforce to you who you are in His eyes. You are not of value to Him for what you do, but for who you are—His beloved, saved by grace when you surrender your heart and will to His Son, Jesus. God would rather have you spend time with Him, than do a bunch of things for Him. Carve out a few minutes each morning with God first and you may find you not only have more time to do other things throughout the day, but your guilt feelings for not “doing” will fade away into the joy you have by simply “being.”
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia
2. Your pride that keeps you from asking for help.
Shed the Superwoman complex. No one expects you to be the sole provider, rescuer, and savior of the day. You have a God—who is your Provider, Rescuer, and Savior – who wants you to depend on Him, not yourself. So, surrender your pride and start asking Him—and others— for help.
You and I were not designed to run solo. We were created to live and work in community. We all need help, support, encouragement, and a team. In addition to depending on God for help, find your team—those who can help you out in a bind and also remind you when you don’t need one more thing to do. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Instead of living by the motto “When all else fails, ask for help” reject that and live by this motto instead: “To keep from failing miserably, ask for help.”
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/julief514
3. Your desire to please everyone.
Sometimes we run ourselves ragged trying to please everyone. But it’s a fact that you can’t please all the people all the time. Proverbs 18:24 says “A man of too many friends comes to ruin.” I believe that means when we try to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one. Choose who you will disappoint each day by knowing who the priority people are in your life and protecting them by giving them your best. When you please and serve those you love the most, you won’t feel drained by trying to be there for everyone.
Sometimes it’s as easy as learning to say “no” to someone or something that wasn’t already scheduled into your day. As Jesus-followers, we want to be available for the “divine appointments” God might send our way, but we won’t be able to say “yes” to God if we are constantly saying “yes” to everyone else. Ask God each day to give you a desire to please Him first, and get in the habit of bringing to Him the unexpected requests you get, to make sure they aren’t interfering with what He has for you.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
4. Your fear of disappointing others.
Is your plate full because you fear disappointing others more than you fear disappointing God? We often take on more than we can handle because we want to impress, we don’t want to disappoint, or we love the kudos we receive by being the one who brings the “extra.”
Again, determine the priority people in your life—the ones who will cry the most at your funeral one day. That should help you remember who you least want to disappoint and therefore what to let go of and what to keep. It feels good to get extra credit or extra appreciation for doing some extra work on an extra-curricular activity or project at work. But if the extra project is causing extra stress, it needs to be extrapolated from your life.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
5. The person or element that is draining you.
What is draining your tank? Is it a negative atmosphere in your office? Your volunteer work at your child’s school? Caring for an aging parent or spouse? Service takes a lot out of us, but so does immersing ourselves in something that—or with someone who—drains us, rather than fills us up.
If a friend or an extended family member is causing the strain, establish some healthy boundaries around your relationship. If your rebellious child or step-child, or an ex-husband, is draining your cup, draw the line on what will not be allowed into your home or into your heart and mind to start that negative thought process. You are no good to yourself and others if you are too drained or stressed to deal with life.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
6. Your unhealthy lifestyle.
Stress kills. So does lack of regular exercise, poor nutrition, and poor eating habits (like not eating at all due to time restraints or eating too much, due to stress). A recent surgeon general’s report stated that “failure to exercise at least 2-3 times a week is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.” That’s right. Failure to exercise your heart is just as hazardous as putting extended stress on your heart through smoking.
Give up whatever is dragging you down physically and contributing to your stress—addictive substances, poor eating habits, or being too sedentary. Seek help through a recovery program, an exercise program, or through a healthy lifestyle program offered through your insurance benefits (you may be surprised to learn what is covered by your insurance in order to keep you healthy and prevent stress-related disorders). Your body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Take care of it and it will take care of you.
Photo credit: Unsplash
7. Your unrealistic expectations.
It’s possible you’re one of those people who thrives on activity, thinking busyness is your badge of success. But, it’s more like your ticket to the hospital as the faster you run and the harder you work, the more stress and toll it takes on your body, as well as your family and those who love you most.
If you find yourself saying “there’s not enough hours in the day” then you’re being unrealistic about what you can handle and imbalanced in what you are attempting. God gave us the exact amount of hours in a day that we would need to work, serve, rest, and live a quality life. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to re-evaluate your motives and priorities and determine why you are not allowing yourself to rest. (See my books, When Women Long for Rest and When You’re Running on Empty for some practical ways to slow down, surrender the need to succeed, and add peace, trust, and rest into your overwhelmed life.)
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, mother, and national speaker with more than 30 years experience helping women discover a more intimate relationship with God, find peace for their overwhelmed lives, and live their purpose and calling. She is the author of 16 books, including the best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Discovers Her Dream, and When You’re Running on Empty. Her newest books include, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, and 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband: More Trust, More Passion, More Communication. For more on her speaking ministry, books, or free articles to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/gpointstudio