44: Where to Start When You're Drowning in Overwhelm & Anxiety – Meant to Bloom: personal growth for hot mess moms
When you’re a mom it seems like the whole weight of the world falls on your shoulders. It can get overwhelming at times – okay, most times, maybe. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Really.
Overwhelming isn’t a result of too much to do, it’s actually rooted in not knowing where to start. When you have symptoms of perfectionism that can become paralyzing.
I know what it feels like to be drowning in ALL. THE. THINGS. The cooking, the cleaning, the scheduling, the laundry, the dishes, there’s no time for me, no time for love, no time for anything but stress. It’s time to change the narrative. It’s time to take back our damn lives!
Mama, you’re in charge. You’re the queen!
Where to start when you’re overwhelmed AF
When we allow ourselves to believe life is hard, it’s going to be. When we become problem focused, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. You might be thinking that overwhelm happens when you have too much to do, but that’s not really the case – overwhelm is actually not knowing where to start.
When perfectionism gets mixed in with our overwhelmed feelings, it’s easy to get paralyzed. This sort of combination tends to lead to guilt and shame, but I’ve got big news for you: guilt is garbage. Guilt does not help motivate you, guilt does not inspire change, guilt holds you frozen with indecision and adds on nasty feelings and untruthful beliefs of your worthiness.
When you realize you’re not where you meant to be I don’t want you to feel guilty about it. When you’re not where you’re meant to be I want you to see that as an opportunity.
When you start to get anxious over your endless to-do list, I want you to pause.
You’re not drowning, you have air in your lungs. Breathe. Take big, deep breaths. Calm your nervous system so you can take intentional action.
Find a breathing technique that works for you. This could be simply breathing: in 1-2-3, out 1-2-3. It could be the box method: 1-2-3-4 in, 1-2-3-4 hold, 1-2-3-4 out, 1-2-3-4 hold. Or it might be the 4-7-8 method: 1-2-3-4 in, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 hold, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 out. Or it could be my dancers version of 4-7-8: 1-2-3-4 in, 1-2-3 hold, 1 out (which makes up an 8 count).
Breathing intentionally will help to relieve your anxiety. Often anxiety is not about the fear in our minds, it’s about the adrenal responses in our bodies. I envision my anxiety as a spring, it gets all compressed and ready to spring – I picture breathing as slowly releasing that spring so it doesn’t release fast and aggressively.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, guilty, shameful – I get that feeling – and I know it’s dangerous. I know as moms we tend to think we’re supposed to be hot messes, our lives falling apart, and I have to tell you it’s not true. Allowing yourself to stay where you feel like you’re drowning is dangerous. If you allow it, those thoughts and feelings will lead you into a spiral of guilt and shame until you feel like garbage and just want to take yourself out.
At some point, you’ve got to make a change.
After you master your breathing:
Identify the main source of your stress.
What’s emotionally the most triggering task on your to-do list? What’s that one thing that nags at you, sucks all your time and energy, that’s your first domino to knock over. Taking care of that one is going to make all the rest so much easier.
I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re managing your life, the lives of those in your home, the home itself, all the schedules, meal planning, etc. You don’t have time to let these tasks take over your time and energy. You have important things to do and stressing is not one of them.
Breathe. Identify the time-suck. Then you’ll want to:
Streamline your non-negotiable tasks
What are your non-negotiables? Imagine you’re sick and stuck in your bed for a week being taken care of by your husband, partner, mom, or someone else – what are the 3 things you’re going to ask them to do for you? That’s your non-negotiables.
The goal is to make those things easier. Delegate if you can. If there’s anyone else in the house that can take these non-negotiables off your plate? How about hiring help? Think about it…
One of the things I’ve recently found to be helpful in getting everything complete is I clean the kitchen while my husband cooks dinner. It doesn’t happen every night, but those nights are so much easier than when I’m doing it all on my own (those nights the husband works late, he’s not a slacker).
Where can you make life easier? Maybe it’s cooking more frozen meals for dinner? Or meal prepping on a weekend as a family so you spend less time each day in the kitchen.
Maybe you could wash one load of laundry every day, dry it and fold it the same day. Maybe it’s time for one of your kids to take over washing the laundry? Maybe it’s time to hire a house cleaner to come in and clean your window tracks so you don’t have to think about that kind of stuff.
Bottom line, it’s important to come home to a house that FEELS good!
Give yourself grace.
No one is doing it all themselves. That woman you think is doing it all, she’s not doing it all on her own. If there’s a mom who’s got it all together and her kids are always listening to her – she’s not doing everything, she’s taught her kids how to take care of themselves and be responsible for their own stuff. If there’s a woman who IS running around and doing everything for everyone, she’s about to burn out.
There’s loads of people out there who are struggling deeply with burn out, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts. There’s people who look like they’ve got it all together, but they’re about to break, they’re just really good at masking it – I know, I’m one of them.
Don’t you dare feel guilty for not doing it all, all on your own. You’re not meant to do it all. You’re supposed to have a village helping you out.
Make a strengths list.
Grab a notebook and pen. Write down all your strengths. Write down everything you’re doing right. What are you good at? Write down your wins, even the smallest wins. What good decisions have you made lately? What are you passionate about?
Write down at least 20 things on this list. Keep it close by and reflect on it often. Build up your confidence. You have to believe you can, before you do.
Breathe. Do the worst job first. Make the daily tasks easier. Give yourself grace. Build your confidence.
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