One Thing At A Time

ask for help burnout inner voice perfectionist self-awareness May 14, 2021
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Dr Jessica Metcalfe
One Thing At A Time

When you feel overwhelmed with ideas and tasks, it may feel like there isn’t enough time in a day or a week.

This is exactly how I felt yesterday.

I got up, ate breakfast, had a coffee, read a bit and then got ready and made my way into work.  I’m currently getting ready for a big move across the country. So you could say that I’m living out of boxes, tying up loose ends and approaching my last day of work.

I have it all under control.

Or at least, that’s what I thought.

As soon as I started to drive, I was immediately overtaken by this feeling of being scared and overwhelmed. My palms got sweaty, my heart started to thud, my stomach did somersaults, and it felt like there was a lump in my throat.

I took a deep breath and hummed on my exhale. I hum on my exhale because it’s easier to slow down and take back control.

“What am I scared of?” I asked myself, “Why do I feel overwhelmed?”

I took this opportunity to ask myself the same questions I ask my clients.

What was the thought I was just having?

On my drive, I started to dissect (while monitoring my breathing) what I was just thinking about. I know it wasn’t the most recent thought of, “I should really get gas.” So, I started to dissect thought after thought, going back to the moment I woke up.

When I woke up this morning, I hadn’t slept well. I was tossing and turning and going over my checklist for the next 2 weeks. There was a lot to do but nothing unmanageable…just…A LOT to do.

I get to work, start seeing patients, and part way through my morning, my colleague asked if I wanted a coffee. I replied, “Yes, please!” I had just tossed and turned all night, of course I wanted a second cup because that would definitely help, right? After I finished the cup of coffee, I instantly regretted my decision. I should have known better. 

That second cup of caffeine amplified my body’s physical response to what I was already experiencing from feeling overwhelmed. My heart, felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. I still couldn’t pin point why I was feeling the way I was feeling.

For the umpteeth time Jessica, note to self: don’t drink another coffee if your emotions are already heightened.

It was in this moment that I realized my own self-coaching wasn’t going to help because I felt overwhelmed thinking there isn’t enough time. Which brought me to my next steps: I reached out to one of the members on my trust squad and told her what I was thinking and feeling. I asked her to tell me, ‘that everything was going to be okay.’ She responded, “Everything will be okay. Journal, sit with it. It WILL be okay!”

That’s all I needed. The reassurance from someone I trusted and the reminder to get my thoughts out on paper.

So I sat and I journaled for a quick 2 minutes, yes, in between patients. I reminded myself that this overwhelming feeling is normal. I have A LOT to do, but even though I am scared, it’s okay to feel like that. In that moment, I decided that the one thing I needed at this time was to see patients. There was nothing else for me to do besides be present for my patients who are in the chair right now. Nothing else on that checklist needs to be done at this moment in time.

Did the feeling of being scared, or being overwhelmed immediately go away? No, definitely not.

But I gave myself the permission to feel it and that even though I didn’t like the way I was feeling, I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day. And you know what, I continued to feel nauseous all day; I skipped lunch, but I was kind to myself.

By the time I got home, the feeling had settled, I was able to eat and I didn’t feel like the day was a waste or that it was a bad day.

Yesterday, I chose the best option for that moment. It wasn’t perfect because it didn’t move ahead my checklist. It wasn’t perfect because it didn’t eliminate the feeling all together. It wasn’t perfect because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. But, it was the best choice for that moment. I chose, one thing at a time.

What is the one thing you will do that is the best option for you . . . in this moment?


Yours Truly,


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