Too Much On Your Plate? Eliminating Stress When There’s Too Much To Do & Too Little Time

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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re feeling swamped, overwhelmed, and full of stress. I get it—life can throw a whole lot at us, and sometimes it’s tough to keep up. But let’s pause for a second. I’m not just here to commiserate; I’ve got some actionable advice on how to alleviate that emotional load you’re carrying. And perhaps more crucially, I’ll delve into why you absolutely need to take action, especially if you’re in it for the long haul of a healthy, fulfilling life.

You see, constantly pushing your limits and piling more onto your already overflowing plate isn’t just bad for your mental well-being—it’s a fast track to physical burnout too. I mean, let’s not mince words; chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health. From heart issues to life-threatening diseases, there’s a hefty price to pay. 

And it’s not just you who suffers. When stress is in the driver’s seat, it tends to steer us into making poor choices—skipping workouts, neglecting self-care, and even straining our relationships with loved ones. It’s like a ripple effect, impacting all aspects of your life in ways you might not even realize.

So if you’re here, teetering on the edge of overwhelm, stick around. The insights that follow will not only help you identify what’s stressing you out but also guide you on how to prioritize those stressors, paving the way for some much-needed relief.

Let’s dive in, shall we?


The Vicious Cycle of Stress and Unhealthy Choices

One thing many of us can relate to is making poor lifestyle choices when we’re overwhelmed by stress. Whether it’s indulging in unhealthy foods or turning to substances as a coping mechanism, these choices only lead to diminished health. And here’s the catch: a decline in your overall well-being makes you even less capable of managing stress effectively.

Stress as a Catalyst for Hormonal Changes

Stress itself is a catalyst for hormone changes in your body; it boosts cortisol and insulin levels, which in turn triggers cravings for high-carb, sugary, and comfort foods. Plus, let’s not forget the havoc stress wreaks on your sleep cycle. If you’re not convinced that minimizing stress is a priority, maybe the thought of accelerated aging—think wrinkles and gray hair—will make you reconsider.

Ignoring Stress: The High Cost of Neglect

It’s easy to ignore the toll stress takes on you until you reach a breaking point. For most of us, we measure our well-being based on how we feel, rather than considering our long-term health. When stress accumulates, you might find yourself on the brink, snapping at loved ones, or breaking down emotionally over minor issues. These out-of-character reactions are red flags indicating you’ve neglected to address accumulating stress. Before you reach that point of emotional tipping, take a step back and assess your stressors. Your reaction to “just one more thing” being added to your plate can serve as a crucial wake-up call. Remember, the road to better stress management starts with self-awareness.


Chalene Johnson stress quote: “I've got a very limited time on this planet and I want to spend it and devote it to the people that matter most.”


Setting Boundaries to Manage Stress Effectively

Life throws curveballs, and sometimes those curveballs mess with our well-planned schedules and to-do lists. The key to navigating these challenges without crumbling under stress is setting boundaries. Having clear guidelines helps you measure when you’ve hit your limit, enabling you to course-correct before stress takes a toll on your health. Let me share a personal story: I sustained a hamstring avulsion that required hours of physical therapy during my already jam-packed workday. Instead of sacrificing my personal life to catch up on work, I stood by my priorities.

Listening to Your Body’s Stress Signals

When life happens—and trust me, it will—you’re left with choices that directly impact not just you, but others relying on you. Whether it’s meeting deadlines, handling work projects, or managing personal responsibilities, the temptation to sweep stress under the rug is high. The body has its ways of sounding alarm bells; it could be sleep disturbances or a twitching eyebrow—these are cues you can’t afford to ignore. 


The Power of a Priority Clarity Statement: Navigating Emotions and Decisions

Ever feel like your emotions are spinning out of control? Whether it’s stress over a relationship or a hard decision, these issues often cloud our judgment. That’s where having a “priority clarity statement” can be a game-changer. Think of it as a tailored guide you’ve created, outlining what truly matters to you—your non-negotiables, your happiness metrics, and your personal boundaries. Next time you’re wandering in a fog of confusion, pull out this statement. Trust me, it will clear the air, helping you steer through life’s maze with a sense of calm and clarity.

Emotional Freedom Through Stress Management

What about the emotional freedom that comes with it? Recognizing and honoring your own well-being over societal or external pressures is liberating. This newfound awareness is not just a get-out-of-jail-free card; it’s a roadway to authentic happiness. So, don’t underestimate the potency of this self-crafted guide. With your priority clarity statement in hand, you’ll find it easier to see through the fog and make choices that align with your core values.


Chalene Johnson stress quote: “Stop saying ‘yes’ so quickly. Say, 'I would love to, but let me check first and see if I want to make sure I can' ”


Saying “No” Without Guilt: Protect Your Boundaries and Peace of Mind

It’s in our nature to want to please others, often at the expense of our own well-being. Saying “No” feels like a Herculean task, doesn’t it? Well, here’s a pro-tip: Buy yourself some time. Instead of shutting someone down immediately, say, “That sounds great. Let me get the details and I’ll get back to you.” This little pause is your chance to consult your priority clarity statement. It enables you to respond in a way that honors your own boundaries and respects your well-being.

Decision-Making Under Pressure: How to Manage Stress

Yet, let’s not forget, it’s easy to get entangled in a web of “what-ifs.” Decision-making seems simpler when you have your priorities in place. And trust me, the universe does have a funny way of rewarding those who stick to their core values—even if the reward sometimes shows up disguised as a challenge. So when you find yourself at a decision-making crossroads, turn to your priority clarity statement. It’s your North Star in a sky filled with distractions, guiding you to make choices that serve you well, instead of draining your energy.


What You Can Do to Alleviate Stress

Stress is something that has a sneaky way of piling up before you even realize it. So what’s the game plan to reclaim your peace? First and foremost, jot down all the tasks that are crowding your to-do list. Yep, every last one of them.

  • List it out: Write down all the tasks you’re juggling.
  • Circle the essentials: Identify the things that only you can do. If you’d vanish tomorrow, what tasks would go uncompleted?
  • Mark the delegate-ables: For tasks that someone else could technically handle—although not as fabulously as you, of course—put an asterisk next to them.

Delegation is not a sign of weakness; it’s a strategy for success. Take it from me, it’s tough to hand over control, especially when it’s your “baby.” But guess what? Your team might just surprise you with their expertise. So go ahead and hand off those asterisk-marked tasks. Free up some bandwidth to focus on what only you can do, even if the outcome isn’t 100% your vision.


Chalene Johnson stress quote: "Don't just think that our rewards are supposed to mean that we have this beautiful rose colored sky. Sometimes our challenges are incredible gifts to us”


Remember: Saying ‘No’ Is Also Saying ‘Yes’ to Yourself

Boundaries—ever heard of ’em? They’re the fence that keeps your sanity from running off.

  • Identify your non-negotiables: For me, it’s my fitness routine and family time. Know yours.
  • Stick to it: These are not mere preferences; they’re fundamental to your well-being.
  • Deflect politely: Master the art of a courteous “Let me check my calendar” instead of an instant yes.


If you’re a people-pleaser, try easing into boundary-setting with a polite “I’d love to, but let me check first.” You owe it to yourself to live a life that doesn’t leave you stretched too thin. Because at the end of the day, the people who truly matter will respect your boundaries and still be there holding your hand when life throws curveballs.

Look, life’s a whirlwind, and it’s easy to get swept up in the chaos. But you’ve got the tools now to put yourself back in the driver’s seat, to grab ahold of what stresses you out, and delegate or deal accordingly. You don’t have to be a one-person show; lean on your tribe, set those boundaries, and don’t be shy about checking your calendar before making commitments. Your well-being’s worth it.


The Chalene Show podcast cover art

Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Then episode #305 is your must-listen. Here’s a quick rundown of what we cover:

  • Recognizing subtle stress signals and the importance of setting boundaries.
  • Gaining a fresh perspective through my own experiences with stress.
  • How to make smart decisions when you’re overwhelmed.
  • The link between stress and your health risks.
  • Your action plan: simplify your life by listing, circling, and delegating tasks.

Don’t miss it; this episode is your ultimate guide to handling stress like a pro.


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