When Life Has You Overwhelmed; Give Up

The compounding effects of all life has to throw at us can be overwhelming. Many of us have to balance home life with work and other responsibilities. Toss in a goal like weight loss and it may be enough to push you to the breaking point.

I understand how you feel.  Between coaching both of my son’s Fall sports teams I have this little thing called running the WellAware Center that has a way of keeping me spinning in circles every day. Right now we are planning for the 2018 operating budget, bringing in new equipment, working on an overhaul of our personal training program and building a brand new fitness center. Last Tuesday I had enough so I gave up.

I know what you are thinking; how can a coach, manager and personal trainer give up and quit? The truth is, I did not quit anything but I was not kidding when I said I was overwhelmed and at my wits end. And I did give up some things to ensure I stayed healthy mentally and physically.

The strategies I am about to share with you will not allow you to quit but they will help you give up certain things that may help you.

Give up on work: I am not advising you to not perform your duties to the absolute best of your abilities but I am suggesting that when you get to the end of your rope consider physical activity or play of some capacity. Can you remember when you were a child and came in from recess? After running around, laughing and engaging in play you were better able to focus and retain knowledge. Somewhere along the way, someone felt taking away recess was a good idea to get more work done. They were wrong.

Physical activity and play allows you to release pent up frustrations in a healthy manner. If you are trying to solve a work problem, take a walk or going for a jog might allow your brain to hit the reset button allowing you to be more creative (I actually dreamed up this blog while running on a day I was mentally burned out).

For some of you, it may not be feasible to take break in the middle of your workday to exercise or play. For you I encourage you to seek out the Worksite Recess videos on www.bjcnet.org listed in the Be Well With WellAware tab.

Give up on using food for comfort: I feel sorry for you emotional eaters. I truly do because we experience a wide variety of emotions, high’s and low’s on a daily basis. You never get a break and are in a constant state where food is used as a coping mechanism for stress, sadness, anxiety and boredom. We could also link poor nutritional choices to habits in your home and work life. For example, if you find yourself getting a candy bar from the vending machine every day at 3pm even though you aren’t hungry you are experiencing habit not hunger.

A few years ago I witnessed something that helped me understand how we are conditioned to flock to sugar or other unhealthy foods in time of emotional stress. I was listening to a young mother describe her trip through the grocery store with her two year old. He was unhappy in the cart and was attracting a lot of attention with his screaming. Wanting to help her son (and lower the volume) the young mother grabbed a box of candy on the shelf and popped a piece of chocolate in the youngster’s mouth. He immediately became quiet. A few minutes later he started fussing again so she gave him another piece of candy. This process continued until her shopping was completed and they were back in the car.

Now this young mother did not mean to do harm to her young son but inadvertently, the child was being conditioned to be an emotional eater.

Would you put sugar in your gas tank and expect your car to perform well? Of course you wouldn’t . . . so why do you put sugar in your gas tank and expect to perform well; mentally and physically. 

When you cut out sugar and processed foods you will feel better physically and think clearer. 

Give up control: I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a control freak. I like things the way I like them in the time frame I want them to be completed.

In full disclosure, my next suggestion isn’t something I’m an expert at, nor do I profess to be good at it — mainly because I like to fool myself into believing I’m in control when I’m not — but have you considered tapping into your spiritual side?

How many books and articles have you read to find a way to handle stress? More importantly, how much money have you spent to find peace and contentment?
Last week a client who has struggled in life gave me this line during her session: “God is the ultimate holistic health plan. Give up control and you’ll feel a lot better.”

For some, the idea of a higher power pulling the puppet strings of the universe is controversial — but I challenge you that even if you don’t subscribe to a belief in a higher power, tap into your spiritual side and learn to give up control. Immersing yourself in nature is a great way to accomplish this.

If you do subscribe to a specific set of religious beliefs, I encourage you to work on giving up control on a more regular basis. You’ll be happier and, as a result, you may find you have better perspective on just about everything in life. But, most importantly, you’ll be happier.

Stop trying to control everything: Never ever quit but in the right situation at the right time, giving up on certain things may very well be the one thing that will propel you to better health, happiness and performance.


About the author:
Jeremy is the manager of the BJC WellAware Center. He is an ACSM Exercise Physiologist and has over 20 years in the fitness industry helping people figure out solutions and implement strategies for better health and wellness.