When I say “feeling overwhelmed,” I’m not talking about the busy everyday get-this-kid-here, make-that-appointment-there, get-dinner-on-the-table, feeling overwhelmed stuff.
I’m talking about the deep-down, I-don’t-know-if-I-can-adult-today overwhelm.
But I think if we expose the 3 main contributors to mom overwhelm, we can dissolve the feeling outright… or at least take the edge off.
#1 Stop the comparison game
Sometimes the familiar warm wash of overwhelm strikes unannounced. Take mindless Facebook scrolling, for example. You happen upon the picture-perfect random middle school acquaintance Facebook friend who just posted about her kid finishing his climb of Mt. Everest, being awarded his 3rd Olympic Gold, and receiving a perfect SAT score, all before hitting puberty.
How can we not get caught up in comparing ourselves to what we see and hear of others’ seemingly perfect depictions of their lives?
First things first. Put your blinders on. If you aren’t inspired or otherwise finding value in what others are posting, I hereby officially grant you permission to stop reading those posts that make you feel bad, depressed, or deflated.
I’m not kidding. Permission granted to block, unfriend, or the like to keep your mind in a better place. No need to feel bad about ourselves with things we can control.
Second, I might suggest that we also take a few moments to get crystal clear on our own values. What is most important to us and our own family? Who do we ultimately want to be and what do we value at our core (without any regard to what anyone else is doing)? Knowing these core values about ourselves and our families makes comparing ourselves to others obsolete.
Finally, have a system of built-in reminders (post-its on the bathroom mirror, daily alarms in your phone with the message “you are beautiful,” etc.) that help you remember this: the only real comparison we have any right to make is to ourselves – who we were yesterday vs. who we are today vs. who we are striving to become tomorrow.
Your biggest and only competition is you.
Stopping the comparison game is a jab in the face of overwhelm.
#2 Focus on one change at a time
Trying to make one change in our lives (e.g. eat a little healthier) can lead to a downward spiral of subsequent realizations that more than one thing needs fixing in our lives (‘I need to workout more/work less/have more date nights/have more one-on-one time with my kids/etc.’).
In comes that warm wash of feeling overwhelmed again. Now instead of just the one change we set out to make, we can find ourselves trying to make so many changes that we end up staying put, right where we are in our discomfort, without making any changes at all.
What’s a mom to do?
So here’s something pretty cool. There’s actually something called a ‘keystone habit,’ and the idea is that by focusing on making just one change in our lives, other changes will happen naturally, without us needing to focus any extra energy on them. For example, exercise is actually considered a keystone habit, meaning, if you focus simply on adding 30 mins of exercise a few times a week, you will naturally start making healthier choices about what goes in your mouth, your productivity at work will improve, as well as a strengthening of your relationships. All these other changes happen without you even trying! Sweet, right?
Making your bed is another keystone habit that has been linked to sticking with a budget!
Take that jab to the other cheek, overwhelm.
#3 Get connected
Nothing contributes to feeling overwhelmed quite like loneliness can. So often we may find ourselves thinking we’re the only mom in the world who yells at her children or forgets her child is supposed to bring in snacks/library books/school projects. We fear we’re the only mom out there who questions her own parenting decisions, doubts herself on a daily basis, or just plain wonders if she is enough.
What’s a mom to do?
Nothing combats feelings of mommy shame like empathy does.
Knowing we are not alone, that other moms not only understand, but that they have those same feelings and experiences too, is the right hook to the jaw when we’re fighting feeling overwhelmed.
Feeling connected is a basic human need, and our need for connection doesn’t change just because we have children.
Connecting with fellow moms is good for the soul. Not just our own, but our fellow moms out there who feel like they are the only ones too.
Believe me when I say this: You’re not alone, friend. We moms understand and know how you feel.
Do me a favor and seek out a fellow mom friend today and help her know she’s not alone too.