Why Can Daily Tasks Feel Overwhelming?
Last updated: June 2023
I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the things I must do for my health. As soon as I finish one task there is another one waiting to be completed. On any given day I must refill prescriptions, wash nebulizers, and call the doctor for one reason or another. There are exercises to be completed for my lung health and treatments that must be finished.
Moving from one task to another is sometimes hard for me. I get stuck in-between things on my to-do list. It could be because I have run out of energy, I am overwhelmed, or because I don’t know where to start. When this happens, I like to figure out why I’m getting stuck so I can help myself to the best of my ability.
Out of energy
Over the years I have learned to prioritize tasks based on how much energy they require. Have you ever heard of the spoon theory? In short, the spoon theory is a way to illustrate the energy limitations of living with a chronic illness.1
I often use the spoon theory to determine how much energy I have and how much energy a task will take. For example, putting a load of laundry in the washing machine only takes one or two spoons. But folding clothes out of the dryer takes more.
If I figure out I am out of energy I give myself the permission to rest. It may sound odd to give yourself permission to do what your body needs. But sometimes it is necessary.
Sometimes when I have more than one task to do, I can get overwhelmed. This can be for any reason, but it is one of my biggest struggles when I have a to-do list. I often get overwhelmed when I don’t understand something. For example, let’s say one of my tasks to do for the day is to make dinner.
Making dinner is something I enjoy doing for my family, but I don’t always have the spoons – or energy – required. I will often make a meal that is easy cook. But I like to try new recipes every now and then. Reading and understanding a new recipe can make me feel overwhelmed if it has a lot of details that I don’t understand or know how to do.
When I feel overwhelmed by a task I will often go talk to my husband. He is great at breaking things down into smaller, easier-to-achieve tasks. And that helps me feel less overwhelmed, which helps me to complete the goals I have set for myself.
Knowing where to start
Another reason I might feel overwhelmed with daily tasks is because I might not know where to start. This is more likely to happen when I have a lot of things to do that day. And it is even more likely to happen when I have lower levels of energy. This requires me to prioritize tasks and that can help me figure out where to start.
Once I figure out my energy levels using the spoon theory, I will prioritize my tasks. When I prioritize tasks, I separate things I have to do versus things I want to do. For example, if I have a to-do list filled with laundry, cleaning, working, and cooking I will choose things that have to be done first. This may look like putting my to-do list aside on days I have doctor appointments because those require so much energy.
Having things that must be done is part of living life. There are always things that need to be completed. And living with cystic fibrosis (CF) means that we have additional tasks that healthy people don’t have to think about. I can often feel overwhelmed when I have a lot of things to do on a given day.
When I feel overwhelmed it is important to identify why I feel overwhelmed. I can take steps to lower my stress once I figure out what is causing me to feel overwhelmed. It is important to remember that not everything has to be completed all at once. Living with CF means I need to listen to my body and respect the energy I have each day. And respecting my body’s abilities is part of my to-do list.
Do you or your loved one find daily tasks overwhelming with CF? Share with us below!
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