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When there's too much to do ...

How strange life has become! For some the foot is firmly on the brake and life is slowing down but for others the foot is on the accelerator and how fast is fast enough? Working in a role that really makes a difference, may feel rewarding sometimes, it may also feel scary and overwhelming. What if you go off sick, and how ill will you be? What if you need to self-isolate? What about your loved ones? How will that impact your colleagues who are also under pressure? What if the powers that be decide things need to be done differently but haven’t really thought it through? These are just a few of the thoughts that may be racing round your head.

Even reading through this may feel like yet another thing that you need to do. However, taking a little time to reflect on how things are and whether any small changes could make a difference can help to ease the pressure. It won’t make it go away, but a little time investment could pay dividends.

Try to find some time for yourself: It is important to set a little time aside, as regularly as you can, to do something just for you. Daily would be good but it may not always be possible. Even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes it will make a difference. Whether it’s relaxing with a cuppa, reading, catching up on what is happening in the world – although try not to read anything you find stressful, playing games, watching your favourite box set, having a bath or simply enjoying your surroundings. Doing something just for you helps you to focus on you and to shut out the demands of the day.

How can you ease the pressure? Think about what your day looks like.

· What are the things that you always do?

· What is the most important?

· What is the least important?

· What is the least often they need to be done?

· Can you ask someone else to do them? They may not mind doing them nearly as much as you do.

· Some people find that giving their least favourite task priority and doing it early in the day means it’s not hanging over them all day, although this does take some discipline.

· Let people help you! Easing the burden of those we care about makes us feel useful.

What do you need? When we are busy, we often spend much of our time and energy making sure that things get done and everyone else is ok. But what about you? You can be your most productive and effective if you take care of yourself. So at these busy times it is vital that you take time out and consider your own needs. You cannot carry on if you’re all burnt out! Is it more time? Is it more support? Is it more space? Is it reassurance? How can you get this?

What is the thing that will help to ease the strain this week? Is it do’able? If so, what can you do to make it happen? Or what can someone else do to make it happen? What is stopping it from happening? Ask yourself this about one thing every week and slowly things may start to ease up as you begin to feel more in control.

Talk to your colleagues – sharing your stresses and strains with someone who is having a similar experience can help to ease things. Knowing it’s not just you who feels like this can be reassuring. Sharing what helps and doesn’t help can give you both ideas of what may make a difference for you. And yes, have a moan if you need to, but try to keep the conversation positive.

Deep breathing (always helps!) – breathe in deeply, filling your lungs, for the count of 4, hold for the count of 2, and then breathe out slowly for the count of 5. Repeat this at least 4 times. It is thought that doing this 12 times twice a day can be very good for your mental health.


It is unlikely that, in these difficult times, the situation we find ourselves in will change dramatically. How long it will go on for, no-one knows, which is why taking care of ourselves is so important. What we do know is that it won’t last forever.

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Jeannette Robson

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