How to Release Stress and Find Balance for a Joyful New Year
As we welcome the New Year, many of us set ambitious goals and resolutions to improve various aspects of our lives. However, amidst our pursuit of more, we often overlook the detrimental effects of overdoing.
The Wall Street Journal article, "For Happiness in the New Year, Stop Overdoing Everything" by Julia DiGangi explores the concept of the "Overs" – overworking, overachieving, overthinking, overexplaining, overgiving, overcommitting, and overaccommodating – and their impact on our mental and physical health.
As a recovering workaholic, this hits home for me. By understanding these behaviors as forms of self-protection, we can begin to let go of stress, find balance, and embrace a lighthearted life filled with wonder, wellness, and wisdom.
The Dark Side of Overdoing:
The Overs are coping mechanisms that aim to create psychological safety amidst anxiety and stress. However, they often become sources of danger themselves, negatively affecting our well-being. High-achieving individuals frequently acknowledge the negative impact of overfunctioning, yet feel compelled to continue these behaviors to stay relevant or on top. Nonetheless, overdoing takes a toll on our mental and physical health.
Overachieving and Overthinking:
Overachieving, the relentless pursuit of high performance, is often seen as a virtue. However, research suggests that the perfectionism associated with overachievers does not necessarily correlate with actual performance. Moreover, it can lead to increased anxiety and depression. Similarly, overthinking, despite its intention to solve problems, has been linked to poorer decision-making, interpersonal issues, and distress. It is essential to recognize that these behaviors do not serve us as intended.
The Path to Letting Go of Overdoing
To break free from the grip of the Overs and cultivate a lighthearted life, it is crucial to understand their underlying motivations and seek balance. Here are three simple strategies to help us let go of overdoing:
🪄 The Wonder of Embracing Inner Authority
Often, we overfunction because we seek external validation and security from others. By relying on their approval or permission, we relinquish control over our own lives and perpetuate the cycle of overdoing. Recognizing that we are the most powerful determiners of our own safety and well-being allows us to reclaim our inner authority. By trusting ourselves and setting boundaries that align with our needs, we can break free from the perpetual need to overfunction.
🌞 The Wellness of Differentiating Danger from Dislike
As we create new boundaries, we may face real consequences, such as the disappointment or frustration of others. It is essential to recognize that disapproval or dislike does not equate to danger. Our tendency to overestimate negative consequences can lead us to avoid discomfort, which drains our energy and hinders personal growth. By distinguishing between genuine danger and mere dislike, we can courageously face our feelings and find relief in doing so.
The Wisdom of Setting Boundaries
Establish new boundaries and expect temporary discomfort. Overfunctioning is a hypervigilance strategy that our brain employs to protect us. By gradually exposing ourselves to situations that trigger anxiety and fear, we habituate to them, allowing our brain to learn that they are not inherently dangerous. For example, if we decide to stop checking work emails after a certain time, the initial urge to do so is a response to our brain's perception of threat. By committing to our new boundary, our brain will adjust over time.
In the pursuit of a joyful and fulfilling life, it is essential to let go of overdoing and embrace a lighthearted approach filled with wonder, wellness, and wisdom. By understanding the motivations behind our self-defeating behaviors and implementing strategies to release stress, set boundaries, and trust ourselves, we can cultivate a sense of inner security.
✨ Let this New Year be an opportunity to prioritize balance, self-care, and the pursuit of genuine happiness. May we all find the courage to let go of overdoing and embrace the limitless possibilities of a lighthearted existence.
📣 Which "over..." will you keep in check this new year?
📸 Photo by Anna Tarazevich