Abram Interstate Insurance Services, Inc., CMGA

Helping Independent Insurance Agents Since 1996

Overwhelmed? How to still enjoy the holiday season – Tips for Insurance Agents

Published on December 15, 2016

As the holiday season is in full swing, we may all need a reminder of how to disengage from our stress, our responsibilities, our work, and to remember how to simply enjoy the leisure of being with family, celebrating what’s important, and recharging our own personal batteries.

Which can be hard for any of us to do, especially if you own your own insurance agency or business. The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Between the added work stress that usually comes, along with events, gifts, family visits, and social obligations, it can be hard to even appreciate that this is supposed to be a time to pause and take it all in.

If you’re in that boat (or know yourself well enough to know that’s where the season is heading), and reading during the holidays is something you always “ideally” want to do, here’s a book suggestion for you: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time by Brigid Schulte (available on Kindle also so you don’t have to add “go to the bookstore” to your to-do list).

If you are or have known any working moms, you know that they may be some of the busiest folks around, and the author is one of them. She’s been spending all of her time balancing a fast-paced career at the Washington Post, along with playing the roles of wife and mother, and it had her always feeling behind on her tasks, and always late. When she’s challenged by Sociologist John Robinson that the average woman has 30 hours of leisure time each week, she set out writing this book to prove him wrong. But what she found in the process has changed the way she wants to use her time and her life.


medium_14390783989photo credit: Transformer18 via photopin cc

Here’s some excerpts from an interview with the author that we can all learn from, in the holiday season, as well as the rest of life.

What is “The Overwhelm” ?

“The Overwhelm” is feeling like you’re living in quicksand. You’re running as fast as you can and you’re kind of getting nowhere⎯nevermind enjoying anything! It’s sort of like you’re just hanging on by your fingernails. At least that’s the way I felt. I felt like I was working all the time but not on stuff that I really cared about. I’m sure some of it was good, but it’s not like it was truly fulfilling. There was always more to do; it never felt like I was doing enough or was good enough.

But I never took the time to sort of think, “What would I do differently?” or “What do I want?”[…]

So how did this experience play into your decision to write this book?

I think when John Robinson told me I had thirty hours of leisure a week, I thought he was out of his mind. But in a way it was the greatest gift of all because it sort of gave me an opportunity to step back and ask some hard questions. I was aware that I had a good education, a great husband, good resources⎯but because of that I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel any different. I felt like if I was overwhelmed, it was my own fault and of my own choosing. But I think it was such a gift to see that in a way it was something I was choosing, but I didn’t even realize I was choosing it.

This revelation began the process of waking up and finding people and places that are doing it differently. I allowed myself to be very inspired by that. This gave me the ability to say, “You do deserve to take leisure time, right now, just because you’re alive. You don’t have to earn it.” I’m also the type of person who likes to understand why⎯why did it go this way? So it was another revelation for me to be able to take a longer historical view to answer the question of “How did we get here?”

“Leisure has been trivialized. Something only silly girls want, to have time to shop and gossip.” Ben Hunnicutt

What is the greatest loss to a culture that doesn’t value leisure?

I think we lose our soul. We’re so busy earning and striving, getting and buying, competing and worrying about our status that we don’t take the time to check in with ourselves and determine what we truly value. You lose the ability to know yourself, and what other task is there in life than to know yourself and to live life by your own compass?


Who is the “Ideal Worker” and what is his role in “The Overwhelm”?

I think there are a lot of interrelated factors that lead to “The Overwhelm,” but a lot of it starts at work. The “Ideal Worker” is a very modern phenomenon. It sprang up with the industrial age, particularly in the 1950s with the “corporation man”⎯somebody who put work first and whose work was his identity. The crazy thing is that in the 1950s the “Ideal Worker” would get into the office at 9 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. Then in the 1980s, the expectations intensified. Now the Ideal Worker gets in at 6 a.m. and never leaves. First in, last out, never takes lunch, moves at the drop of a hat, travels at all times, sleeps with a smartphone at the side of his or her bed. So basically, the Ideal Worker is now somebody who is work-worshipping, and if you burn through a couple marriages, then that’s the price that you have to pay. I think that if we can reshape our relationship to work and redesign our workplaces that would go a long way to recapturing our sense of leisure and taming “The Overwhelm,” if you will.

“The average high school kid today experiences the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the 1950s.” Bridget Schulte

In your book you discuss how much more stressed we all are nowadays. How does this kind of stress contribute to a loss of authenticity in our lives?

We live with this constant flavor of of never-enoughness. When you’re running around conforming to these cultural ideals, like the ideal worker or the ideal parent, then you are living in what philosophers call “forfeiture.” This means you’re not living your authentic self; you’re busy avoiding the fact that you are going to die someday or just too busy trying to fit in.

One of the most amazing things that I think I covered in my book is how important leisure time is to our well-being […]

This book is a shout-out to request that everyone pause and ask themselves the hard questions about what is important to them. If you do step out against some of these cultural norms⎯long work hours, intensive mothering, and being busy⎯you’ll be able to connect with other people who are committed to trying to figure out how to live authentic lives.

As insurance agents, you make a living making sure the important things in people’s lives are covered in case things go wrong. You help protect the things that they need to make the life they have. But let this holiday season be a challenge to enjoy the living you’ve created for yourself and your families.

And in our efforts to make your life easier we have real people who answer the phone to help you (Call 916-780-7000.); we have an online chat system you can use to chat now with our experts if you have a quick question (click HERE to chat online); and we have online raters that are easy to use (click HERE to Quote Online Now).

Abram Interstate Insurance Services, Inc. is a California wholesale insurance broker (CMGA) that has licensing and expertise to place business in both admitted and non-admitted markets for personal lines insurance and commercial lines insurance in California and surrounding areas.

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