Breaking your lethargy cycle may is the key to reducing your spirit of overwhelm. It’s so easy to get into the trap of information overload in this fast paced, information saturated world we live in. With so much to do and lists of your to-do lists it’s no wonder you start to feel overwhelmed which can lead to pretty much just freezing in your tracks and not doing anything.
Breaking Your Lethargy Cycle
In an article called “Breaking Your Lethargy Cycle” by Dr. Kevin Polk, a clinical psychologist, lethargy is explained as not only feeling tired and run down but one can be lethargic without moving slowly.
He introduced the thought that one can be doing lots of things at a fast pace, and still be in a state of lethargy because you still aren’t getting anywhere. Thus, you may be in a state of lethargy.
Hmmm…That’s an interesting thought! It’s what he calls “busy lethargy”and it happens because, in essence, we are running ourselves ragged, but still not getting anywhere.
Let’s look a little further at a lethargy cycle. It goes a little bit like this.
You are sitting at your desk with a ton of work and information coming at you faster than the Millennium Falcon in an episode of Star Wars.
“I need to get something done. But where do I start? I have this pile of things on the corner of my desk that needs to be done. I have this stack in the middle of my desk that needs to be done as well. I have my email inbox that needs to be read because I didn’t even finish reading all the emails from yesterday. But where do I start?”
With so much to do and so much coming at you it’s easy to just be frozen in your tracks. It’s really hard to pay attention to what you need to pay attention to. What may happen is that you just grab something to do, without a real thought about if it’s the highest priority. It just happened to be the paper on the top of the pile. What has happened when you grabbed that piece of work, is you put yourself into “autopilot” mode, and working in “autopilot” may be one of the worst things you can do at work. It can make you feel lousy because you just don’t feel like you have any control. Feeling lousy can lead to more thoughts like feeling like you don’t know how to make decisions and it can lead to a crummy repeat cycle that does not really benefit you and it can all manifest itself with feeling fatigued – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Listen, I’m going to come to you on this subject with first hand knowledge. I’ve BEEN THERE. I’ve been so overwhelmed, stressed and immobilized with TO-DO that I’ve sat at my desk and CRIED. It wasn’t until I started applying these hints and ideas that I started to regain control. Here are some of my notes and thoughts from Dr. Polk
Breaking Your Lethargy Cycle
The first place to start breaking your lethargy cycle is with your thoughts. You have to control over how you think. You MUST control how you think. You may not feel like you have control because too much work and information are coming at you. Work and information overload, however, can only take away your control IF you let them. So don’t let them do that. Take a minute or two per day to think about how too much work and too much information are holding you back. Acknowledge how you feel and the reality of your situation. Don’t try to say “Oh, I’m just being an emotional woman.”
LISTEN to your body. IF you are feeling overwhelmed, then it IS because you ARE overwhelmed. You are MORE than your work and job. You bring a whole pile of YOU to the office each day. You’re human. Personal issues come to the office. It’s just a cold, hard, real fact. While you are at it try to notice when and where you get the most stressed. Think about slowing down your thinking to get out of autopilot when you start to get stressed.
The first thing to do in order to start on a path to healing, and the thing you have the most control over, is to think about the amount of information that you let in. Your brain is an amazing thing. Of all your sense, your Visual sense takes up the most amount of energy for processing. For the most part your brain does this job of processing information automatically. As long as you don’t get too much information, it does great. Too much information overloads you and is stressful. If you are feeling overwhelmed then you are going to have to do some elimination.
Watch less TV. News, movies, reality shows, sports – all of it is just throwing more things into your head to be processed. Now, don’t get me wrong and don’t panic. I’m not saying you need to become a hermit and shut out the rest of the world. I’m just saying do some elimination. If you watch 8 hours of TV a week, try going a week and only watch 4 hours. Cut it in half. I’m not saying it’s FOREVER. It’s for a period of time to allow yourself to heal. Yes, I feel as though the spirit of Overwhelm is something that takes time to heal, just like a cut on your finger.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not proposing that you go into a cocoon and shut out the world. Just make a few decisions to limit the information coming at you. That way you will know you are in control. That leads to you feeling your are in control. It’s a great first step in breaking your lethargy cycle. From there you can start making decisions about that workload of yours.
But, you know what happens when you decide to DO that one little step. You send a message to your mind that YOU are in control. It’s a step towards making decisions and breaking the lethargy cycle. A little step in the right direction will lead you to being able to make decisions about your workload.
What else can you do?
- Spend a morning, go through you email inbox and opt out of all the unnecessary ones. (I tried doing this, but it didn’t seem that the opt-outs really worked)
- Setting a schedule and only open your email inbox at designated times (this one was HARD for me to do, but I DID IT and WOW did it work!)
- Choose one news program or news site to visit, once a day. Believe me, if the Apocalypse happens YOU will KNOW it.
- Make a list of projects you are working on. Next, take a hard look. Can you delegate some to someone else? Do you know each project’s priority? Just having a list of projects, their priority and why you can’t finish each project does wonders for helping you to feel in control.
You want to know something else that will help you feel in control? It’s something I did that truly helped me over the hurdle of feeling in control, giving me the positive vibe of making decision and DOING something with that decision, and it gave purpose to my day.
You can read more about it at Your On Purpose Project.
Do you have any ideas about how YOU could break your lethargy cycle? I would love to hear them!
Kim Steadman is the Content Curator and COOP (Chief Online Operating Person) for The Re-Feathered Nest, a place of encouragement for women who are ready to RePurpose and ReDesign themselves according to God’s purpose for their lives now that the kids have flown the coop. She is the author of the soon to be released book ““My Little Book of Empty Nest Quotes & Wisdom.’ Kim can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheRefeatheredNest and on Google+ at +Kim