I’m going to be real. I started typing the title for this blog “When Life Becomes Overwhelming”, and as I typed it, I realised this is not true in my life anymore. Overwhelm has become my new normal. It’s my current life. And it’s crushing.
I often wake up in the morning and instead of feeling alive with the dawn of a new day, I feel like I’m already behind. There’s so much to do, so little time…how will I ever get through it all?! I’m experiencing the same thoughts I had as I fell asleep, and they replayed themselves in various catastrophic forms all through the night. No wonder I feel like I barely slept. And wonder how in the world did this become my story? and yet, no matter what, you’re stuck in the middle of the story.
The real truth is that often motherhood can simply be a place of overwhelm.
It doesn’t matter what causes the overwhelm. Sometimes it can be a culmination of little stressors – orange peels left on the floor, peanut butter on the stairs, sassing back by the three year old, kids that don’t want to go to bed, bills piling on the counter – or it can be just that life is deciding that at this moment it’s simply going to be hard. Money stuff. Relationship issues. Sickness. Death. Kid issues. I don’t need to list them. We know them, and in fact, many of you are in the midst of walking through them. Add those with the little stressors and you have a perfect recipe for overwhelm. In fact, as I am writing this, it’s bringing tears to my eyes.
Although I actually really know the truth in my heart, my mind keeps telling me I’m failing. Failing in every area as I’m not able to fully accomplish something in one area. Everything feels like I’m walking on wet, slippery, soapy tiled floors. Like I’m about to fall at any moment if I don’t concentrate 100% at all times.
I can’t continue like this.
Stress is not a bad thing. It really isn’t. But a constant state of stress physically affects the brain. So I know I can’t go on like this. But the idea of changing my diet, my spiritual life, exercising more, spending quality time with my kids, spending less money, doing more, feeling more, acting more, saying more, being more… is exhausting me without me even taking the first step.
So I started doing one thing I’m actually good at; research. Reading blogs 🙂 And finding other moms who feel the same. And try to focus on one small area at a time.
I know I’m not alone.
And therefore, I’m sharing my (very personal) journey right here. Laying out my planned steps. In the hopes that this not only could potentially save another overwhelmed life, but keep me accountable in the journey to my own mental and physical health recovery.
Some of these I’ve started with, and some I’m implementing during the week. I want you to feel 100% comfortable and confident to ask me about any of these and how I’m doing. This is what accountability is all about. Putting it out there publicly, and hoping others will keep you to it. So here we go:
Facing the Truth
There is no shame. I have to remember that we all face overwhelm at some point in our journey. These moments don’t define me, don’t define motherhood, and they don’t determine tomorrow, much less the next five minutes. I will not allow shame to rest on me anymore.
This too shall pass. A friend of mine and I had our first babies together, and this was one thing we constantly reminded each other of when it got hard. It still applies. And the thing I need to remember most often in the midst of those hard days of life.
Accept help. Although I often act like a little princess who wants everything done for her, I actually find it really hard to accept help. Because I’m not a real princess. I’m a grown-ass woman. With four children. I’m supposed to be able to do all these things by myself! But I can’t always. There are moments where I need help, and there are moments when you need help, and there are moments when we all just simply need help. Open the door. Humble yourself. Invite others into your life. Truthfully, when you admit that you’re real, and not perfect, you are allowing and creating a culture of motherhood void of the crippling masks of perfectionism that social media and externals can create. You not only bless yourself, but you bless the giver as well.
And that brings me to my first challenge;
Be the help you want.
We’ve all heard the phrase “Be the type of friend you want to have” and this is exactly where I’m starting. I’m a nurturer at heart, and want to take care of people. I want to help. (Hence, studying psychology and behaviour therapy!) I’m not doing this because of what I can get out of it, or adding more to my already full plate. But by helping someone else, I firstly take the focus off myself and my issues. Secondly, it can help me feel I’m accomplishing success in one area. If I can help you, I’m also inadvertently helping myself.
Change the attitude.
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s research on stress shows that it’s not always a bad thing. What makes it so is our attitude toward it. When I wake up feeling there is too much to do, I am actually subconsciously telling myself that I won’t be able to get through it all. And that it’s too much. But if I begin to consciously tell myself that this is something I am excited about, I can welcome the discomfort and the adrenaline that comes with it.
“One thing that is clearer to me every day is how much we all have in common, and one of those commonalities is that we all think we are alone.”― Liat Segal
This one has had the biggest impact on me the last week – and science also backs it up! I begin my day with a quiet time before I literally even get out of my bed. It doesn’t have to be a full-on 30min meditation, but I grab my Bible, read a couple chapters of Psalms, and start my morning with a breath of calmness. If you don’t read Bible or pray, take 2 minutes to focus on gratitude, and purposefully focus on calming your heartbeat, your breath and your mind. I could calm the frustrations of the emotional mind that forever seeks better and more, and be grateful for what I already had. We’re all wired with a negativity bias that makes it difficult to appreciate what’s already working and what’s already there—unless we intentionally do so.
I am very excited about this one and actually got myself a special notebook for this specifically. There are some days where I am just too exhausted and don’t want to look for the joy. But now I need to make myself do it. For my own health. I make myself sit in my bed at night and write down the moments that caused joy. Somedays there might only be one. Write a note to someone that matter, take instagram pics of silly things like tea with berries in it, or my kids laughing in the backyard, or all sorts of little things. Those are the moments. Celebrate them. I want to use these to kick overwhelm to the curb. They don’t take away the hurts, the struggles, the hard stuff, but they do allow gratitude to develop a foothold in your heart.
“You are blessed. You are great. You are not alone. You are powerful.”― Amit Ray, Mindfulness Meditation for Corporate Leadership and Management
I’m being real. Stress, overwhelm and anxiety is real. But so is healing. I’m taking back my life. I know I’m not alone. Know that neither are you. So please leave your comment. And let’s do this together.
All my love,