In the seven short years since I have become a mom, I have been a WOHM (worked full time), WPTOHM (part time outside the home), WAHM (worked from home), SAHM (a full-time stay at home mom), ANNND done a combination of working from home and outside the home – I have NO idea how to make that acronym ! In that time there is one thing I have learned. Motherhood is hard and often overwhelming – no matter which way you slice it.
There are times that I find myself so overwhelmed that it is literally paralyzing. I’ll preface this post with the fact that I do also cope with anxiety. However, I am going to venture to guess that you, too, have felt the crushing weight of motherhood. Anxiety or not. Since we, as moms, don’t have the luxury of being paralyzed by our responsibilities and have to keep going, I have done some self-help in this area of my life.
Here are my top 3 tips to help when momming (or life!) feels overwhelming.
So this one probably seems like a no-brainer, BUT you’d be surprised how often we forget to breathe. Like really breathe when we are feeling stressed. Whether it’s the never-ending to-do list, a rush of strong emotions, or physical sensations the part of your brain that controls your fight or flight response takes over – making rational decision making difficult. When we focus on our breath, we are able to refocus our brain and start problem- solving, rather than reacting.
It also helps our bodies deal with the sensations of stress in a better way. For example, feeling stressed and feeling excited feel very similar. Your heart races, you might be short of breath (or breathe more shallowly), and you might sweat. However, when we are stressed, in a bad way, our blood vessels also constrict, which is no bueno. An interesting thing happens when we can start to view stress as excitement, your body will actually begin to respond like you are merely excited vs. experiencing scary stress. The science behind this consistently shows, that when we start to feel anxious or stressed and we instead change our mindset to “excitement” our blood vessels don’t constrict in the same way, which in turn keeps our bodies healthier. It also helps us to think more clearly and begin to work through the stressors more effectively.
2. 5 Second Rule
I can’t take credit for this at all, and you can watch Mel Robbins discuss it at length here, however, believe me when I say that this is a game changer. As in entirely changed the way I live my life and has positively impacted everything from my professional life to my marriage. The best part? It’s a simple exercise that will yield significant results. Are you ready for this? OK…
…When you start to feel stuck, or as I mentioned above, paralyzed by the number of things you have to accomplish count back from the number 5. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Then ACT. Mel likens it to a NASA countdown, and at “one” it’s “blast off” or bust. By doing this exercise and implementing action, we are training the brain to act. To get ourselves to move and do the things (all the things) that we have to do – whether we want to or not. Think of this as an update more depth (science-backed) version of Nike’s “Just Do It.”
If you take anything away from this post, let it be this. Click that link, watch the Ted Talk and I promise you’ll be better for it.
3. Baby Steps
One of the most overwhelming aspects of motherhood is the sheer amount of things that we are responsible for planning, overseeing, and executing. Every proverbial tab in our brain is open. Who is allergic to what, activity schedules, meal plans, car maintenance, dentist appointments, grocery lists, work commitments, when you last shaved your legs, house chores, has the middle kid been hugged enough, does the dog have water, and on and on and on. Thinking of all the things, in their entirety IS overwhelming. SO. Stop thinking of list. First, practice the “5 Second Rule”. And act.
Pick a task. The most important one is the best place to start. Then break it down to the most minute step. For example, if Susie has a science project to be completed and needs your help, start small. Get your keys. Check. Get in the car. Check. Drive to the store. Check. Pick out the supplies. Check. And continue in this way until you have completed what needs to be completed for the task (for the time you have allotted for it in that particular day). A few things will happen when you do this. A. you will find yourself in action, achieving the goal (or chore, or task, or responsibility) more quickly. B. You will begin to feel more accomplished more quickly, and therefore less stressed. C. You are more likely to achieve what you set out to do. D. It’s virtually impossible to feel overwhelmed when doing things this way.
The truth is none of these are difficult to do; however, they do take a little practice to make second nature. Although, taking the time to master these ways of thinking is worth its weight in gold. You will be more productive, less stressed and feeling overwhelmed will be a thing of the past.