Overwhelmed? How about a bucket list? (NO, not THAT one.)

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2011-01-18 21:08:56 -0600
Started 2011-01-15 19:26:46 -0600

Sometimes it can feel like life throws a lot of curveballs at once, and they come at us so fast that we feel like we don't know which one to try and catch, or if we should even bother to try. Or if we should try to juggle all of them until we fall down exhausted.

Here's a way to look at what's going on in your life in a way that might help to reduce your anxiety.

Managing your diabetes is one challenge. Others might include a bill that has to get paid, a relationship problem, your boss’s bad moods, your child’s last report card, that leaky sink…

Put each challenge in its own bucket.

Then, go from one bucket to the next, one at a time rather than all at once. As you examine what's in each bucket, ask yourself: What do I have control over here and what do I not have control over? Is there anything about this problem that needs my attention? What do I have to do? What do I have to accept?

As you examine what’s in each bucket, decide:

What you can and can’t do about the problem.

What your action plan is (don't forget to focus on what you can actually control here).

How important it is to solve this problem, compared to the other challenges you are facing right now.

Line the buckets up, with the most important bucket first in line, followed by the others, in order of importance. In other words, ask yourself which bucket you want to dive into first. Hint: it’s important to care for the caregiver, so I would put that diabetic self-care bucket first in line, and keep it there!

Take action – realistic action – and then move on to the next bucket.

This isn't magic. Your challenges aren't going to magically go away. But you can at least see where you are making headway and where you aren't, and you can see what you need to do. And maybe you can even see where you need to relax.

The point is to look at your life challenges in a way that provides you with the opportunity to see where they can, individually, be managed. It's when we see only this big mass of trouble that we feel overwhelmed.

Part of coping with life is realizing what we can change and what we can't change, and then deciding how best to go with the flow.

I would also encourage you to reach out for support. Friends, family members, who can listen objectively when you need to talk. You might also consider reaching out to a mental health professional to help you to maintain your perspective as you deal with these challenges.

What do you have in your buckets? Let’s do some sharing and caring!

18 replies

PetiePal 2011-01-17 13:00:06 -0600 Report

Great article. I like to envision myself kicking the bucket through a goalpost after completing it for that oh so satisfying feeling!

I think my current bucket list is:

1. Lose more weight
2. Continue my education…either an MBA or a Masters in Tech. I have my 4-year BS now.
3. Have children
4. Be more dedicated to attending Sunday mass
5. Strive to work a little harder with my overly-difficult coworker :)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-01-17 22:06:57 -0600 Report

Hey PetiePal,

This is great! Thanks a lot!

I really like your priorities, starting with taking better care of yourself. If you are handling that, then you will have created a foundation for making everything else happen, in its time.

And I suspect that with priorities two, three, and four in place, then that difficult co-worker is going to seem less and less important. In my experience, at least, I find that when I am centered and feeling like my own life is moving forward, difficult people have a way of fading into the background, where we know they belong.

Thanks again. I will be looking forward to hearing about how this is all going!

Take care!


PetiePal 2011-01-18 09:54:23 -0600 Report

Thanks Gary. I think taking care of yourself first is the only way you put yourself in a position to take care of others and ultimately a family once day. You need to make sure you're squared away and none of your needs can become too pressing so that theirs can come first.

jayabee52 2011-01-16 08:42:08 -0600 Report

There's a new discussion on the "double Ds" (Diabetes & Depression) you might want to check out and comment on. Link: http://www.diabeticconnect.com/discussions/9316 . (Don't intend to add to your buckets but thought your insight might be valuable there).

Actually I do try to prioritize ( hadn't thought of it in those terms before)

Blessings to you and yours


Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-01-16 16:51:20 -0600 Report

Hi James,

I did read that post. Depression can often come hand in hand with a chronic condition, with the daily challenges, the life changes, the uncertainty. Sometimes the fear and the sadness just build up and cross over into depression.

I think that it can be helpful, as I wrore in my post, to try to prioiritize these challenges, to look at what has to come first, what has to come second, on down to maybe what doesn't have to be so important. Otehrwise, it's human nature to turn everything into mud, and then feel like you are sinking.

Thanks for replying. Blessings to you, too.


petals 2011-01-16 17:21:41 -0600 Report

I agree , I have to decide what has to come first. And right now that's me, my health, taking care of myself and letting go of some of the stress that I am under. And I don't think that is being selfish, if I don't take care of me, then I can't deal with anything else either, or even feel like trying to.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-01-16 17:56:34 -0600 Report

You said it! If you aren't taking care of yourself, then you can't be effective in the rest of your life and you certainly can't help the people that you have chosen to be responsible for. And for most people, when they really take a look at their priorities, they find so many things that, in the final analysis, aren't important at all.

I think that chronic conditions like diabetes teach that lesson in a real way!

Thank you!

petals 2011-01-17 14:30:48 -0600 Report

You are right, some of the priorities that I thought were important are turning out not to be! Others can and will learn how to do things for themselves. For me my number one goal is taking care of my health.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-01-17 22:43:30 -0600 Report

That's great. And I think that when you really take a hard look at your priorities, you find that you can't do everything, but also that you don't need to do everything. This can really be liberating. Thank you.

jayabee52 2011-01-16 17:26:15 -0600 Report

Kinda like the instructions you get at the beginning of an airline flight. Take care of yourself first and then help others when your 02 is flowing.

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