You must be an accountant or a tax preparer.  Everyone I know in those professions routinely have lives that spin out of control from January through April 15th, but whether that is or isn’t your profession, your question applies to almost everyone at some season in their lives. There are several ways to approach the “dilemma of overwhelm” and each approach has its benefits and drawbacks.

For example, if this is truly a finite period of time, like tax season, you may want to ask your family for reduced responsibilities and a lot of goodwill and patience and just press through as best you can. As a backup plan, if you are about to have a nervous breakdown, call 911. Joking aside, with this approach you reserve time after your busy season is going to end (a definite date is imperative!) to schedule a vacation with your family, down time relaxing at home, a spa day, a trip to the mountains, or a golf tour, depending on your preference and your budget.  Try posting pictures from magazines of your reward-to-be on the wall of your office during the busy season. It helps.

Another strategy is to schedule “meetings” that are actually meetings with yourself. A two hour “meeting” might include a nap and reading a novel for an hour with your phones off and your office door closed (and locked!).   Do this, or something like this, several times a week.  Or consider taking an extra 45 minutes between work and home to stop at a coffee shop and read the paper, go for a brisk walk or stop at a park and listen to some of your favorite music before going home. Take time to shift gears when moving from one set of demands to another.

Probably the most difficult strategy (and the most effective in the long-run) is to work toward making your life more manageable.  Specifically, this includes learning to say “no” to work or personal commitments that add on to whatever you are already doing, prioritizing your current obligations, and accepting that some of these just might not get done—at least not on the timeline of others’ expectations. Gradually work in regular commitments to time for yourself: for example, exercise or taking a class of personal interest. This approach may even take a year or two, but it is possible to create a more manageable life.