There are many ways in which we all deal with stress, we all experience that feeling that life is just too much and the feeling of “I just can’t…” I am not talking about the big stressors such as major illness, unemployment, death or other life-changing events. I am referring to the daily grind, the day to day, overwhelming, daunting activities: kid sports or clubs, homework, dinner on the table, cleaning, laundry, workload, dieting, exercise, parents, friends, pets, and the list goes on and on… even prayer feels like it cannot be included in my harried lifestyle.
I am in the midst of this feeling right now. There just does not seem to be enough time to do anything, so I make things worse and even more stressful by doing nothing. It seems ridiculously ironic that I would resort to apathy or outright laziness when feeling overwhelmed, but this mechanism serves me, if only for a short while.
I have stock mantra that I tell my students during the overwhelming times: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Once I decide it is time to dig in and that I have to stop being complacent, the most effective motivation is prayer. What happens if that is one of problematic issues that is overwhelming? The inability to pray is always the path that leads to laziness and apathy for me. I have to begin with a pep talk, and that speech must be a plea to God asking for the motivation I need. Though I feel strapped for time, the most efficient use of that time is spent in Adoration. Being in Christ’s presence forces me to pray for that pep talk, if only for a few minutes. That time in Adoration centers me and places me in a state of mind to feel I can do anything.
Another mechanism I utilize is a pen. I write it all down. When I do this, nothing slips through the cracks because I have visual and tangible evidence of what I have to do. I have a hard calendar listing all events, all duties, all responsibilities. Now here is the clincher… I have to check off everything that has been completed or accomplished. A simple check mark says a lot to me. Even cancellations are marked with a line drawn through the words. This simple act spurs my motivation and allows me to continue on my productivity path. It makes me feel accomplished and empowered. I have control over what I do and what I need to do.
Another method is to speak the things I have to do out loud to someone. If I say it, I have to do it. If I tell my students they will have their graded essays the following day, then I have to get them graded and returned. My integrity and me word is at stake, therefore verbalizing my responsibilities is an act of commitment.
This is not to say that I do not falter or drop a few balls, because I do. But because of the calculated steps I take, I am also able to forgive myself. Because of the genuine concerted effort I have made, I feel proud of myself and in control.
This sense of control is the driving force behind quelling the feeling of being overwhelmed. Control and self-control are virtuous and what God wants for our lives. I am the first to admit how much self-discipline I lack, but I am convinced that God wants me to at least try. I make myself do that which I do not find enjoyable. I have to get uncomfortable If I am trying to attain some sort of organized semblance and order in my life, my spiritual health will be better for it. Therefore the whole process is a cycle. For me, it always comes down to prayer: I pray for motivation, I organize my responsibilities, I commit to a witness, and I implement a course of action and plan.
I hope that this little discussion motivates you to also seek Truth and turn to prayer to remove the lack of control from your life and search yourself for the motivation placed inside you by the Holy Spirit,
Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.