Are you feeling burned out or on the verge of running yourself into the ground? It’s actually more common than you think. In this post, you’re going to learn how to detect and overcome overwhelm.
Yes, behind every picture perfect grid on Instagram, lies a mother trying desperately to juggle it all whilst getting tomato sauce old on her new white top again. Is there any way of feeling peace?
What is overwhelm?
The word overwhelm derives from the meaning of not being able to control your emotional state. Everything feels like too much, even the smallest of things can throw you off and have you reacting ‘irrationally’.
Too many tabs open
To best describe overwhelm, I like to use the following metaphor:
Have you ever had a computer that as soon as you ask too much from it, it just gives up and freezes? Now this especially happens with old computers and it happens when it receives too many stimulus.
Too many tabs open, too much going on for it to concentrate well on one task at the same time.
Our mama brains are not too far from this example that I’ve just given because the more you input, the less clarity you’re going to have as an outcome. That’s where overwhelm happens when you keep putting, consuming and absorbing too much information
And I think we don’t really realize when I mean, we don’t really realize how much information we’re taking in a day. I think our way of really acknowledging This is to see how your baby reacts to the world.
1) Stop comparing
You’ve heard it before, comparison is the thief of joy, but it’s true!
Social media can be an amazing place to catch up with friends and follow inspirational accounts, but try to remember that it is only a highlight reel, not real life.
Here’s a hack you can use when you feel like you’ve been scrolling for a while:
- Check in with your body – are you feeling tense anywhere?
- What is your posture like? It is bent over in defeat?
- What are you saying to yourself?
- Have you been stuck on one profile and felt particularly down?
Get real with yourself and ask those questions.
Life is not a race
Part of what makes everyone so unique is that we all have our own paths to walk and lessons to learn.
If you feel like you’re falling behind either with your friends or the accounts you follow on Instagram, it might be time to take a step back and remember how fare you’ve come. In the same way, those succesful people you see? 90% of the time it didn’t come from nothing.
Take a moment to appreciate yourself, your gifts and personality traits that belong only to you. It might even help to have a mini journaling session and see what comes up. Here are some poignant questions again that can help you move forward:
- What has been a successful moment in my life?
- How have I overcome a difficult situation?
- Where do I feel like I’m lacking/falling behind?
Turn comparison into inspiration
Newsflash: you can be happy for someone’s success without comparing it to your own life! Instead of tearing yourself down, build up other women you admire, why not send them a message and tell them? Even the most confident women have days when they could use a boost and a small compliment can go a long way to a friend.
2) Commit to less
Let’s just say it how it is: if you’re serious about overcoming overwhelm, you need to be prepared to make some serious lifestyle shifts in order avoid burnout happening again.
You need a life that’s sustainable and having a constant mental to-do list runing in the backgron – that’s not sustainable.
Have a good think about what areas in life you’re feeling the most stressed and why. (Hint, I’m guessing one of those is parenthood)
I’ll go first: one of the huge day to day stresses for me is what the heck are we going to eat for the millionth time this week?
Anyone else feel absolute dread upon hearing the phrase ‘Mom, what’s for dinner?’
Yep, it makes me want to send frying pans flying across the room. Luckily, I can control that impulse but seriously, this is something I have to find a solution to long-term because it’s just the mental load of being in charge of the kitchen is too much for me.
Ways I can improve and overcome overhwlem:
- Meal plan for the week
- Batch cook veggies for 3-4 days and put them in the fridge
- Re-use recipes I know that work
- Write the shopping list according to the meals I prepare
- Ask my partner for meal ideas for say 3 nights a week to share the mental load
The big question is, what are you holding onto be it physically or mentally, that is just unbearable?
There are three main ways you can reduce your loa:
As per the example I just gave with meal planning, this is a huge way of reducing stress when it comes to mundane every day routines like getting the kids to school on time or making sure there’s always something in the fridge/freezer you can whip out when you need a night off cooking.
What routines of yours need a shake up? Where could you use a little more planning?
Now I know those perfect husbands do exist – you know, the ones who remember to pick up milk on the way home without needing a reminder text to do so? All jokes aside, that’s great if it’s your couple but most relationships need a little tweaking and re-arranging once kids make the scene.
The key to delegating certain household tasks is to figure out what stresses you the most, what you know your partner could do better than you, or where you could simply share the workload – and go from there.
If you’ve been the type of woman to try and be the supermom and have it all under control, I know it can be difficult to lean back and watch as someone else steps up. However, you and I both know that you don’t have to do it all. In fact, bookmark this post on 4 reasons why you shouldn’t do it all here.
Of course, if you’re not with a partner this won’t apply for you but if you do have a relative or a friend who chips in, how can you let go of the need to control more and trust that they have it sussed?
Okay loves, if you’ve tried the previous two tips above metnioned and you still feel antsy and overwhelmed, you need to learn to let that shit go.
My favourite exercise for this is (yep, it involves journaling, if you haven’t guessed yet I’m an avid fan) cancelling out tasks on your to-do list.
First, you draw up your to-do list, your worries, thoughts – just write it down. Next, you put them in order in terms of priority, then cross out all that you don’t NEED to be thinking bout. Worrying about something will not make it better and I know it’s hard – trust me, I’m a mom too – but you’ve got to make your mental health a priority.
If you have a lot of worries, take a separate page and brainstorm solutions to those worries. Don’t let them stay in that muddy place of your mind taking up space where creativity and joy could be.
Who here has said the phrase at least once in their life ‘Yeah sure, I’ll do that!’ and then immediately regretted it?
The truth’s out: we’re a world of people pleasers. We learn that good behaviour = love when we’re young and it sort of sticks. Not only that, if you have mild wounds of abandonment, or you’re prone to co-dependent relationships, you’ve probably stepped over your own boundaries a few times.
Now is the time to turn the page.
It is so vital that as a mother and woman preserving her mental and spiritual health, that you become aware of how to set boundaries – cause those crazy kids you got there are going to test them real good.
Not only that, boundaries are actually an act of preservation – they tell people where you stand, and I don’t mean this in a fierce, aggressive way but being calm, assertive.
First, you need to know what you believe in and stand for to be able to place your boundaries so get clear on what that means for you. Only then will you be able to know your limits.
Having boundaries ensures that we’re not over-giving, ending in frustration because we feel depleted. We recognize how we’re feeling, and we do as much as we can according to how we’re feeling at the moment. An example of clear boundaries would be:
‘You’d like to play with mummy. I’m a little tired. Can we read a book a little and then we’ll play later when I’m rested?’
If you lead the example from a young age, your kids will soon catch on and in case of objection (which often naturally happens) you could sy:
‘ I know you’re feeling sad because you’d like to play with mummy. Mummy really needs to rest right now so I can have energy to play with you later! What would you like to play? I can’t wait!’
Obviously it won’t always go this smoothly with strong-headed toddlers, but once you’ve placed the boundary (and it’s important not to think of it as a brick wall) you need to stick with it.
The fewer things you have in your home, the less time you have to spend tidying up. Doesn’t that sound bliss?
Decluttering isn’t only for minimalists and doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything. Do take a few minutes a day though to look around and get rid of what isn’t contributing to your happiness now.
A friend of mine and simple living specialist recommends having three bins available in the house at all times: one is for trash, one for donation and one to sell. Having these bins to look at makes you motivated to carry on and sort through your clutter.
The key to reducing is to take it one step at a time – it’s easy to get overwhelmed and completely re-do your house, but was that even useful if a few weeks later it’s back where it was?
Whilst you’re reducing, you need to be applying systems that will help you stay on track and stay organized in the future. Oh, and word to the wise? You don’t have to pass by target and fill your trolley up with stuff to help you declutter.
Whether it’s your kitchen, living room, children’s play area – start small and just keep moving forward.
The more your outer space is clear, the more your mind will reflect the same.