I was talking with a client the other day. They had a lot going on – at work and at home – and they had been handling it up until then. But even from the very beginning of our phone call, it was clear that my client was done. Done in, in fact.

There are times when we seem to be managing everything, even when the everything is more than can be managed. And then, as if out of nowhere, it is suddenly too much. As if out of nowhere, we can’t keep going.

It’s happened to me. I’m guessing it’s happened to you.

The problem is, we almost always have to keep going, even when we can’t keep going anymore. So, what do we do?

The 5 Ps:

  • Prioritize – there are things that need to done and things that most likely don’t need to be done, but we often think we have to do it all. Especially when you can’t keep going anymore, you need to figure out what’s really important, and prioritize that. The first P is to prioritize so that when you leave things undone, you can leave the “right” things undone.
  • Pare – believe it or not, even after you prioritize, you still have to lessen your list. The second P is to pare, as in pare down your to-do list. Go through the list and figure out what you can drop, what you can delegate, and what you can decrease (make simpler, make smaller, make doable).
  • Pace – even though you’ve given yourself less to do, there still can be a lot to do. Therefore the third P is pace. Pace yourself. Go slowly when you can; go slower than you think you can; go even slower. Pace yourself so that you have more of the energy you need to make it through.
  • Pause – you have prioritized, pared, and paced, and you still need to pause. Pausing, stopping, and resting will give you the stamina – and mindfulness – you need. Even though it seems counterintuitive to stop for a moment, the fourth P is to pause.
  • Practice self-care – the last, yet perhaps most essential, P is to practice self-care. When there is too much and when you are in overwhelm, nothing is more important than taking care of yourself. There is a reason we have often been told to put our own oxygen masks on first. We need to breathe; we need oxygen; we need to be okay.

There are times when it’s just too much, and yet we need to keep going anyway. By practicing the 5 Ps, you can best help yourself (or whomever you’re helping) make it through.

How have you kept going when you were in overwhelm?
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