A few words on trying to keep on top of things in these particularly testing times, and breaking stuff down to make it a little more manageable.

Hello, and welcome to Wellbeing & Mental Health Matters where each week we have a spot to have a chat, and talk about stuff that might be bothering us. This week we’re looking at dealing with a sense of being overwhelmed.

I don’t know about you guys, but there are days when I feel overwhelmed. By life, by stuff, by things left undone. There’s an edge to everything these days, very little seems straightforward. We are all operating at different levels – of work, of economics, of mental health, of risk. And sometimes they don’t fit together so well.

I’m a great proponent of lists. Of breaking tasks down and tackling the smaller things that add up to bigger things. It gives me a sense of control. Right now, I feel a little out of control, like running down a hill with no sense of how you’re going to apply the brakes at the bottom without running into a brick wall. As an example, let’s take Simon’s article last week about gaining weight.In 2020 I’ve gained a lockdown stone.

Some of this is outside of my control. My 10k steps a day have been hit by shielding. There remains one thing very much in my control – the online shopping order. On Friday there was a 12 bag Monster Munch surprise on the doorstep. I don’t even remember clicking buy on the food order, but I think my subconscious was calling to the tasty pickled onion goodness.

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See also, lemon cake, ice cream and multiple rich tea biscuits. The sugar is (literally) on me. First step to dealing with the weight gain – take the multitude of sugary items off my set shopping list. If wavering towards adding them back again, do the Truffle Shuffle and walk away from the keyboard.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work needed to do to my house. If I take it as a whole, I crawl into bed and hide under the duvet. I’ve had to step back and break it into individual tasks. Take my overgrown front yard. I gave myself a three bin bags a day clearance target. I was allowed to miss days when I felt unwell or it was blowing a gale outside my window. Several days and 15 bags later my garden is a blank canvas, ready to move onto the next stage.

Looking at the whole picture can be overwhelming. Days are fluid right now; appointments are merging into one another. To combat this, I’ve been using a bullet journal. Not a pretty ‘look at me! I draw flowers!’ journal (which are gorgeous, but require patience I don’t have)– a practical space where I break down my tasks over a week and note appointments in advance so there are no surprises.

This way I’ve been able to cope with multiple medical appointments, which in themselves are all one step towards diagnosis and treatment, without focusing on the fear behind my illness. I can see the holistic diagnostic picture building up in small steps, with practical solutions to dealing with my symptoms now becoming clearer.

I know, it sounds simple. I’m micromanaging, and you probably have your own way of controlling your time, perhaps on a nifty app. If something works for you, then it would be great if you could share it.

Genuinely, if you have been struggling with keeping on top of your obligations or health over the past year and have found a way to support yourself through it, please consider sharing. There’s no right or wrong way, just some thoughts that might help others during this difficult time. As The Levellers say, there’s only one way of life and that’s your own.

Take care, and thanks as always for reading.

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