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Archive for March 12th, 2012

Being Spread Too Thinly

For many of us today, we’re juggling.  That’s not terribly surprising; people have had to juggle different parts of life for many reasons.  Families who grew up on farms often had to juggle tending to the animals, the fields, the house hold, and the family.  But today, things are a bit different.  On the farm, you might have multi-generations living together or extended family.  I am sure life looked differently when there were more people around to spread life’s duties among many.   Today, it seems like we have just as many responsibilities, less time, and less support.  Rather than having the opportunity to spread out responsibilities like elderly parents, a sick spouse, children who are struggling to make careers, we’ve become spread too thinly.  Often this happens at the expense of our health.

The effect of trying to be everything to everyone is that we have no time for renewal, rest, and recreation.  How do you know when you are spread too thinly?  There are some common characteristics that can be guideposts to keep you from totally hitting the proverbial “brick wall”.  You may find yourself being focused on what needs to be improved rather than on what you’ve accomplished.  Conversely, you might feel like you have never-ending tasks which can bring up the experience of nothing ever being completed.  Finding unhealthy ways to comfort you on the run can go from being an occasional thing to an everyday way of life, such as overconsumption of alcohol, food, cigarettes, or caffeine.  With just these few things going on, self-esteem can decrease and emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt, dissatisfaction, and irritability may increase.

So what’s the magic formula?  There’s no one answer because our lives are so different.  A few healthy suggestions follow:  practicing stress-reduction techniques that lower hormones related to our stress response and developing a strong support system whether that is a group of friends to walk with or go to a comedy with occasionally.  Both laughter and light cardiovascular exercises can reduce hypertension, increase our immune system, and increase endorphins, our body’s natural pain killers.  Setting realistic priorities and finding ways to balance all the parts of our lives can help us from stretching our limits and being spread beyond healthy boundaries.

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