“It’s not stress that kills us, it is how we react to it.” Hans Selye, endocrinologist

The year has begun. Well, almost a month has passed since fireworks and parties brought in 2015. This year, I told myself, I was going to try to take on less, relax more, and make a real effort to chill. You know where this is going? Right?

Despite my best efforts and I really do try, I find myself knee deep in paper, again, and a ‘to do’ list that is far too long for the time available, particularly if I have to eat and sleep too.

To say I’m overwhelmed would be an understatement. I’m a whirling dervish, unable to focus long enough to get anything done. I’m chewing gum incessantly, wrappers accumulating in the small corner of my desk not covered in files, bits of paper and sticky notes. Don’t forget to call so and so, send out that final report, write a cover letter. Stuff. I’m not supposed to forget. Stuff. I’m supposed to do. Stuff.

Typically (and I know it doesn’t show) I am able to prioritize what needs to be done, put a timeline together and then chip away at it. I’m a planner by nature and being organized helps. I don’t typically think about how much work there is to do. I just go ahead and do it. Thinking for me results in paralysis and I don’t have the time.

But at the moment I am thinking: why do I have to do this? I don’t want to do it anymore. And these thoughts persist. This is bad. Very bad.

I have made my current frustrated state known by heaving an anguished sigh several times a day. Doesn’t matter if I’m alone or there are others around. That sound seems to come of its own volition.

The problem: I don’t know why I’m feeling this way. It’s not as though my life is normally in complete control. It rarely is. I’m always involved in too many things, juggling and dropping stuff and picking it up again. It’s what I do.

The life I lead is of my own creation. No one to blame, but me. I know this.

I also know that I hate it when I can’t move something forward. I’m particularly stymied when it seems that all my best efforts only create more work, more need for information, more effort and time. I figure, look I’ve done all of this, isn’t that enough. What more do you want from me?

But, I’m starting to think that my current state has nothing to do with not moving things forward. I’m stubborn as many of you know and typically my stick-to-it-ness can outlast any hurdle. Perhaps I’ve found my match though. Or I’m just tired.

I simply don’t know. And what makes it worse is it is happening right this minute when so much needs to get done. I could scream, but only a tortured moan comes.

I’ve been talking to myself to figure it out, but just like thinking, it hasn’t helped. So I’m going back to another one of my proven remedies. Decluttering.

I’ve gutted one set of drawers and have my sights set on the storage closet, the file cabinet, and the floor around my desk. My breathing is laboured as I heave long-forgotten boxes, but I feel a little lighter too.

I haven’t come to any conclusions about my current mental state yet, and this Mr. Clean whirlwind tactic of mine hasn’t given me any new insights either, but I know something will present itself.

And eventually I will return to the routine that gives me comfort: breaking down tasks, prioritizing them, making lists, and getting it done. This seems to be my life’s mantra. Nothing will change.

Hold on a minute. Maybe this upheaval has been a not-so-subtle nudge to encourage me to make some changes. Yikes. This new piece of information is just one more thing to think about. God. Back to the drawing board. And a whole lot more cleaning.

Overwhelmed copy

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