Overwhelm….. it happens to us all.
I reached a point a couple of weeks ago where I literally could not cope with making one more decision, sorting out one more argument, answering one more “mu-um” or one more question…. About anything! I felt totally frazzled, empty of anything more to give, a burnt out useless husk…. I didn’t know what to do, how to manage the situation or how to help myself through it.
This is a fairly regular occurrence in my world, the spinning plates just get too much and I have just had enough of keeping them going, I desperately need someone to just come and take over, to tell me what is going to happen and just take control….. That never happens though!
So how can we manage these situations?
Well firstly you can become more attuned to yourself, I can usually feel the build-up to total meltdown and so have now decided to try and de-rail that train before it reaches full throttle, when I start getting more agitated, snappy, tired and generally fed up feeling I know it’s time to delegate and take some pressure off and the biggest step in achieving this is to realise that nobody is going to do that for you. Most women I speak to just desperately want somebody to notice their struggles and swoop in with a cup of tea and an order to go get in the bubble bath they just run you whilst they think about and cook tea whilst keeping the kids amused….. unless you one of an incredibly lucky minority that I have yet to come across that just isn’t going to happen, you have to make it happen for yourself and just accept that it isn’t because you aren’t loved or your family just don’t care, they do care and teaching them (especially girls) how to practise self-care by being the example will be one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Just be honest with them…. “Mummy is feeling a bit tired and run down, so I’m going for a bath, please direct all problems or questions to Daddy” (or whoever). Or maybe you need a day out with some girlfriends and that is ok too, whatever floats your boat. Recognise what brings you calm, what clears your head and brings you joy and go do it, when I reach full on meltdown mode though an hour in the bath just doesn’t cut it, so be prepared to need a bigger chunk of time to renew if you are at this point, ensure the main jobs are being covered and let go of anything else, in the grand scheme of things the majority of your to do list just isn’t that important. If you are at breaking point and there is nobody to take the reins then just get out, whatever the weather dress everybody appropriately and go somewhere green or coastal, breathe some big lungfuls of fresh air, admire the beautiful scenery, run and play with the kids and forget about anything else for a bit.
“I need to sort my life out”
I say this a LOT, so at the height of my overwhelm I did just that, I wrote out my day in half hour blocks and put in what I would do with each block of time, I have one child at school, 2 that are home educated, I run a hair and beauty business, am a part time PA for my brother and running this blog…. As well as all the usually mummy jobs! So yes, life is hectic and my biggest problem is just fitting clients in all over the place trying to educate around them and then procrastinating when I do have a bit of time free because I can’t prioritise and then don’t know what to do first… so I scroll Facebook! Sound familiar? So, I worked out my around the things that cannot be moved like school runs and clubs or groups, so now I know exactly what I should be doing at any given time. I’m still a bit of a free spirit though so deviation from the plan is ok in my books, but that bit of structure really helps. If you need strict and itemised then do that, I wouldn’t stick to that though and then would feel like I’m failing, so I just blocked out the school runs and clubs, then left mornings for work a block for lunch and a dog walk then home educating in the afternoon and more work time in the evenings. Simple, but I just needed to see it on paper to gain that clarity in my head, Sundays I get the planning done for the week ahead so my time blocks are more efficient. If I’m still struggling to prioritise or feeling overwhelmed at all the “stuff” I need to do then I write a full to do list, I list EVERYTHING no matter how seemingly trivial, and you know what? It never seems as bad as I’ve made out in my head! Then prioritise, what has a deadline and when is it? What could the family help out with? What will give you the biggest return on your effort? What have you been putting off? Then each day set yourself 3 MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) and get them done first.
This should be daily, but we all know life gets in the way and none of us need another thing to berate ourselves for not doing, starting with a daily journal can just get you in the habit of feeling grateful, so in moments of stress or depression you can rationalise and put life into better perspective, just doing this has really helped me many a time. I started a tea time gratitude practice too with the whole family, we each took it in turns to say one thing we were grateful for, the kids loved it and it sets a firm grounding for feeling grateful rather than hard done by, as can so often be the default setting with a lot of kids and adults. A gratitude journal has been proven to be more effective than Prozac at helping depression due to massive shifts this change in perspective causes so give it a go, you’ll be amazed.
I could go on and there are a multitude of ways to prevent and cure overwhelm, but the biggest thing is to accept that you are overwhelmed, know that it is ok to feel this way and find and use the coping strategies that work for you and do let us know in the comments or on social media what they are use #alifelessfrazzled to tag us in your overwhelm or calming posts.
5 top tips to prevent overwhelm….
1. Take time out for yourself regularly…. Whether it’s a cup of tea and a crossword or a day out lunching with friends, book it in and stick to it!
2. Practise gratitude… start with a journal, write in it daily, but don’t berate yourself if you forget.
3. Set 3 MIT’s each day…. Pick the 3 most important tasks for that day, get them done first then anything else is a bonus.
4. Plan your time…. Either to the minute or in rough blocks, whatever works best for you.
5. Meal plan for the week ahead…. Take the pressure off deciding what is for tea and what to buy, shop for the week off for plan then simply make the food each day without thinking too much about it.