10 Tips for Working Past the Overwhelm
Birth2Work Curriculum Director, mother, grandmother
What’s Going on with Me?
With two dozen things on your to-do list, have you found yourself occasionally staring into space with a heavy chest, a rapid heartbeat, and wondering why you can’t get going? You may be feeling overwhelmed.
And that’s understandable! Keeping up with the immediate needs and schedules of a family is a huge task. Not to mention the big-picture issues undoubtedly kicking around your brain.
People express the overwhelm most often as anxiety, with the mental and physical symptoms associated with it. Others may become sad or quick to anger. The good news, though, is that you can combat it and prepare in multiple ways to lessen the effects on your mind and your body.
We all fall into patterns of behavior, ways we automatically think about things. Often, we have negative patterns of thought that may lead to feelings of hopelessness. If you can think about problems as solvable, as challenges to face and break down into smaller pieces, you can build hope that things can change and get better. The family working together can create change.
The key to creating this change is for parents, as the family leaders, to set goals for the future. If you are parenting as a couple, get in agreement. If you are a single parent, be firm in your beliefs and your values.
Set goals based on the values you want to instill in your children and the behaviors you will support in them as they grow. If you work together as a family toward those goals, your relationships will flourish!
Ways to Cope When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Take a break.
Your energy is limited, so surround yourself with those who love you, support you, and build you up. Take a class. Take a bath. Take a day trip. It’s necessary.
Ask for help.
For some it seems to be the hardest thing to do, and yet it’s the most responsible. If something isn’t getting done that needs to, someone else can step up. (Maybe just this once, or maybe from now on.)
Walking in nature and doing yoga are just two examples of exercises that can make it harder for your mind to feel overwhelmed. While you’re moving, your senses save you from focusing on your problems. Exercise tires your muscles and regulates your breathing while flooding your brain with relaxing chemicals like dopamine, which helps level your emotions, and serotonin, which helps to improve mood and sleep.
This may be difficult when you’re focused on your anxiety. Try talking with a friend on the phone for a while. It’s very hard to keep a phone conversation going while focusing on your anxiety. Then, as you begin to focus on the discussion, you may begin to feel calm and more optimistic.
Remember that sleep is very important to your mental and physical wellness. When you’re well rested your cognitive functioning is much better. You’ll also be thinking more clearly and have the stamina to make it through your day. Take the time to take care of yourself as well as you take care of others.
Take a social media break.
We’ve heard many of you tell us the fear of living in the world today can be crippling. Give yourself permission to close that door for a while—at least a week, better to do a month. You probably have tried stopping carbs, alcohol, or soda for at least that long. This is as important to your health and humanity as quitting those items, even for a short while.
Ask yourself, “fear or fact?”
Sometimes the things triggering our biggest worries are things we may be fearful of but aren’t supported by facts. Try writing down your worries on paper and seeing if you have hard facts to support the worry. If so, you can make a plan of action. If not, you can allow yourself to let it go.
No matter how bad things feel, there’s always someone dealing with a worse situation. Be grateful it’s not you. Itemize the things and people in your life that bring you joy. And remember, “this is just a chapter. It’s not your whole story.” (S.C Lourie)
Embrace the big-picture issues.
Take national issues off the table and focus on having conversations, gaining alignment with your spouse, and making plans to address the big-picture issues for your family. As you work toward those goals together, bit by bit, you may find hope and more peace in your home.
Seek a mentor.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. We all need mentorship and support on this parenting adventure, and Birth2Work is here for you! We have free materials for you to download that are a great place to start gaining perspective, a free minicourse to get you going, and an extraordinary online class to help you really break down the overwhelming intangibles of life and turn them into doable dos for you and your family.
You can find peace on the other side of overwhelm. You can do it. We can help.
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