Whether overwhelm is easy or difficult for you to admit to, the chances that you’ve experienced or are currently experiencing overwhelm is extremely high. Especially in motherhood.
I hear from women all the time that they are dealing with so many different levels of overwhelm. I wanted to share with you my personal walk through overwhelm. How it tends to sneak in no matter how much mindfulness, screen-free living, or crock pot dinners I have going on.
There is not one person that is safe from the feeling of overwhelm. It happens to us all. It happens to the best of us. It doesn’t mean you’re any worse than the next person. And it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
Overwhelm happens when you’re over consumed. So how do you backtrack, how do you get out of the consumption when you’re committed or in too deep!?
REASONS WHY YOU FEEL OVERWHELMED
I’m sure your personality has a huge underlying effect in overwhelm. I’m an Enneagram 7 meaning I’m a tad bit more of a free spirit. I don’t typically have the need for control. Although there have definitely been times when I have felt that need, and I get a glimpse into some of my friends that have personalities that struggle with this often.
You feel overwhelmed when you feel out of control of the situation. or maybe you’re trying to do it all and you forget to ask for help. Because we were not put on this earth to all be hermits. We were put on this earth to live in community.
And let me just say that it’s okay to ask for help in the big things and the little things. It’s okay to call your friend and tell them you’re just tired from the day, nothing huge happened, there is no tragedy, you’re just worn out and at the end of your rope! It’s okay to ask for help then just like it’s okay to ask for help when tragedy strikes.
You might also be feeling overwhelmed if you’ve let your expectations be set too high or if they’re unrealistic. Especially for the season you’re in. You may be setting your expectations somewhere that would have been realistic for another season but not the one you are currently experiencing.
RELATED PODCAST EPISODE – Embracing Seasons of Life
HOW DO I STOP FEELING OVERWHELMED?
Overwhelm is a natural way to recognize that you need to slow down. Maybe you’ve been going going going and you didn’t even notice the responsibilities growing or the anxiety building.
The feeling of overwhelm is letting you know, “hey, somethings gotta give”. Thanks feeling of overwhelm!
So how do you stop that feeling of overwhelm? Every time I have looked up and realized that I’m feeling flustered or in a place of overwhelm I never could quite make myself sit down and write everything out. I know all the overwhelm gurus and simple living experts say make a list but I felt like writing everything out, was going to actually make me even more overwhelmed.
I knew that my overwhelm was because of the silly things on my list, I knew that the responsibilities I had piled upon myself were unrealistic. Why did I need to write them down to tell myself that? It will take too much time to go through that process anyways.
When I know the feelings of overwhelm are creeping in it’s always best for me to process in a way where I can give myself a chance to breathe. I set my phone down on the counter I put on my shoes, I walk outside. I walk down the street and around the corner and then back again. If you’re not in a place where you can walk outside, take a walk down the hallway but make sure that your phone is nowhere with an ear or eye shot.
I know phones aren’t the cause of overwhelm and technology in and out of itself is not evil. But it’s so incredibly easy to become consumed with our devices that we forget what life was like without them, even if it’s for a moment.
4 TIPS TO OVERCOME THE FEELING OF OVERWHELM
I could give you a long list of 17 things to do when it comes to feeling overwhelmed. That way you have tools in your toolbox to fight the feeling. You have ideas for overcoming the frustration.
But my 4 tips are a bit more abstract. They are more feelings and emotions. Because when you’re feeling overwhelmed you don’t need more things to do to stop feeling overwhelmed. You need less things to do.
Tip 1: Wherever you are, be there.
When you’re constantly struggling and striving for the next thing, you’re not where you are now. Don’t let yourself steal from your today by longing for tomorrow.
There are a million different reasons why you might feel overwhelmed. And if I were to start listing them out you would probably feel even more overwhelmed and so would I! I want you to know that to overcome the feeling of overwhelm is a process. A heart and mind shift. It’s not something that can be fixed with 7 simple steps or 16 tips. Because it’s more a change of being.
If you are ready to overcome the feeling of overwhelm then you are ready to truly navigate through uncharted waters. Because none of us actually know what we are doing in this life. We’re making guesses and tiny adjustments. And we are sharing with one person how we did it in hopes that it might work for them too.
First admitting that you are in a position of overwhelm is extremely vulnerable. Because you’re admitting that you are over consumed and you are unable to continue at the pace you’re currently going. Somehow it sort of feels like failure when you admit to overwhelm.
Or maybe it’s easy to admit to overwhelm. Maybe you talk about it all the time, maybe you’re overwhelm has turned into a constant companion that is slightly resembling…complaint.
It’s usually pretty apparent that I’m discontent with where I am now. Maybe I’m just wishing for some help, I’m just wishing that my life was a little different, I’m just wishing that my husband would do this or that I’m just wishing that our finances were different or that my husband’s company had made a better decision.
But if I’m always wishing or complaining or looking for, I’m not where I am.
I know that I don’t deserve this life. I have done absolutely nothing to deserve the freedom I have in Christ. Yet I have it. He doesn’t guarantee me a beach vacation after I’m finally done nursing or financial freedoms or a perfect house or perfect kids.
All that I have right now is a blessing. Wherever you are right this minute be there. Be grateful for this moment.
- Have a process for being mindful and present
I know I might sound like a yogi. Meditation, zin, finding your Chi. There is some legitimacy to this.
The process to be mindful and fully present doesn’t have to be weird and it doesn’t have to take up much time. But having an evening routine where you stretch or are you just sit still for a few minutes with your eyes closed before you fall into bed will help bring yourself back to Center.
Do a body scan. If you don’t know what a body scan is carefully go on YouTube and type it in. You’ll probably find a video with a beautiful sunset or ocean waves and some soothing voice asking you to evaluate how you feel from the top of your head to your pinky toe nails! They range from 3 minutes to 30 minutes. After you watch the video Once you probably won’t need it again.
Be aware of your body being mindful of what is going on inside of you. Be able to enjoy where you are in the present moment. forget about what just happened today or what you have going on tomorrow. close your eyes and smile, close your eyes and take deep breaths in and then let them out slowly.
Tip 2: Give yourself permission and the chance to process
Back when we first realized that we were having our fourth baby a sudden feeling of overwhelming hit me. I felt like I was at max capacity as it was with three! What was I going to do with a whole other human?
Instead of putting on my brave mom face on and the look of, I’m excited for everything coming my way, I gave myself permission to call my counselor and set up an appointment. I needed time to process.
When change and unexpected excitement and joy and adventure hits you, it’s okay to give yourself permission and the chance to process what’s going on in your life.
Having the chance to talk about it with somebody else is an added bonus, but if you can’t set up a counseling session or your husband isn’t around, or your best friend has 500 kids at her house too and can’t pick up the phone to just chat for a second… give yourself permission to close your eyes, take a deep breath and process what just hit you.
Tip 3: Being proactive rather than reactive
There is a reason that when I started typing proactive my computer started to autofill the saying. It is a good saying. But what does it actually mean?
The song Aladdin sings, “one step ahead of the bad guy” is what you want to be humming throughout your day! Know your kids, your boss, your to-do list, it’s not the bad guy! But you get the idea! It’s the one step ahead part!
Being able to think about what you can do right now to make life a little bit later a little bit easier is where your brain to be. Could you do something in the morning before your kids wake up to help make the morning run smoother? Can you have a snack waiting for them when they all come pouring in the door to make your afternoon a little bit easier? A while back I read a book called The Lazy Genius Way and she talks about this concept.
I was excited to hear her bring it up because it was something I was already doing. Every evening I set out our stuff for breakfast so that frying eggs in making oatmeal I just a little bit easier. Or I make everybody lunches on Sunday so that at 7 a.m. it’s simple to just reach in the fridge, grab a lunch and give them a kiss.
When you have a mindset that is proactive rather than reactive when it comes to overwhelm you are setting yourself up for things to be just a tad bit easier.
Shoot you go to school on Wednesdays now too! Wait I guess you always go to school on Wednesdays I just totally forgot to make your lunch! Now we are hustling as the bus pulls up, you are stressed the kids are stressed, you feel overwhelmed! The next chain of events aren’t helpful either. that is not proactive. That is reactive.
FINDING SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR
I’m sure you probably heard this or read this but the counterbalance to overwhelm is gratefulness.
I’m not talking about just the typical, thank you for my house, thank you for my family thank you for the clothes on my back thank you for my food, thank you for grocery delivery! I’m talking about going a little bit deeper here.
Finding something to be thankful for removes you from the situation. It removes you from the overwhelm. And trust me this is not something that I am excellent at or that I do every time I have overwhelm.
But if you find something to be thankful for, and I mean truly deeply thankful for, like the whole level of thankfulness that practically moves you to tears, then the stress of over-commitment, overtired, overstressed seems to be irrelevant.
Because I have news for you. The trials and tribulations of this life are real, but they are nothing compared to the spiritual warfare that is our Eternal Soul.
I know the ins-and-outs of your day are hard and learning how to navigate through this life feels something like what Christopher Columbus probably felt like in the middle of the night when it was cloudy. How do I know where to steer the ship? How do I know if we’re there yet?
But when you need to overcome the feeling of overwhelm, speak truth out loud. Your life had such value. You are so special, you are so loved oh, you are so worthy.