Overwhelm in 2020
How to feel better now
Moms often wear “multitasking” as a badge of pride.
We can cook dinner while dictating an email response to our boss.
Change a diaper while planning what to get at the grocery store.
Take a client call while throwing in a load of laundry.
But multitasking in 2020 is a whole different ball game.
And at a time when we’ve been forced to work and parent concurrently, our drive to multitask and do it all is no longer an asset.
We’re so good at juggling 10 balls at once.
But add a few more to the mix (cough, 2020, cough), and it throws us completely off balance and plunges us into a spiral of overwhelm.
What many busy moms don’t realize is that we’re already overextended, even in normal life. We are so habituated to rushing and doing all.the.things, that we can’t even sense that our bodies are already in an almost chronic fight-or-flight state.
Fight-or-flight is our body’s way of reacting to stress. Evolutionarily, it’s purpose was to keep us safe, like from a tiger, or a rival.
And though the world has evolved, our fight-or flight response has not. So instead of getting triggered occasionally from a rogue wild animal, it gets triggered constantly by the stimulation all around us. Emails. Texts. Crying children. Work deadlines.
It also gets triggered by internal stressors, including how we think. Fears over the pandemic. Worry about our jobs. Anxiety over our kids being home.
Left unmanaged, our constantly-triggered stress response can lead to serious health concerns.
But even before those manifest, busy moms can languish in a seemingly unending state of panic, anxiety and overwhelm. The worry that there is too much to do, not enough time to do it, and seemingly no better alternatives.
And with the future of school this fall still uncertain, there’s no end in immediate sight.
But even though there are a lot of things we can’t control, there are things we can do to feel better now. And that’s important. Because when we’re overwhelmed and stressed, we’re REACTIVE. We run around trying to put out fires, instead of looking for the source of the flame.
We want to be PROACTIVE. How can we best handle the cards we’ve been dealt this year? How can we get done what we need to get done without feeling like we’re losing our minds?
It seems counter-intuitive, but the best way to handle overwhelm is not to do more in an effort to check off everything on our list.
It’s actually to slow down and do less.
And instead of being the first thing to fall off the list when life gets hectic, tending to ourselves, our health and our well-being, should be moved to the top.
Admittedly, this can feel very hard to do when we’re so used to doing it all. But it’s more critical now than ever.
It’s time to get back to basics. Tend to our bodies and minds first above all else and watch it pay dividends.
Because when we give ourselves the chance to relax and slow down, we’re able to approach our to-do’s with a calmer mind. We can more easily cut out what is non-essential.
When we’re not spinning in anxiety, we’re naturally more resourceful. We’re able to come up with solutions, instead of focusing just on the problems.
What helps YOU feel better? Here are a few ways you can begin to take a breath, slow down, and feel better now:
- Move Your Body – Get into your body. Move it, stretch it, sweat it. Do it from a place of loving your body and wanting to do something nice for it. And even though many gyms and studios are still closed, there’s an abundance of new online workouts that enable you to workout at home, on your schedule. Including local Red Bank trainer Liz Murphy’s online, on-demand cardio and strength-circuit workouts. She’s also started seeing clients in person again (while socially distanced!). Learn more at DoBodywork Fitness.
- Eat Well – The joke when schools let out was the relief we felt that we didn’t have to pack lunches anymore! Which slowly gave way to the horror of having to supply 1,287 snacks each day, instead. If you like to cook, get back in the kitchen. Prepare a meal that feels luxurious and nourishing. Need inspiration? Check out Red Bank food blogger Nicole Todd’s family-friendly recipes on Sea Salt and Honey.
- Simplify your products – An overstuffed medicine cabinet, linen closet and under-the-sink area is visual clutter. And visual clutter leads to mental clutter. Throw out what you don’t use. Pick products that you love and use only those. And if you want products that are both good for you and the earth, check out Wanamassa mom Meradith Perabo’s Spread Love Not Toxins for clean product swaps and tips for a greener, more sustainable home.
- Set an intention – Take a few minutes each day to set an intention, breathe deeply and quiet your mind. Your brain is like a spotlight – you have to point it in the direction you want to illuminate. Visual and sensorial reminders can be excellent tools that help you bring yourself back to the present moment. Oakhurst mom Danielle Angel has an unmatched selection of crystals – each with their own energy and meaning – that can help you connect to yourself. Plus, they look great on your desk. Check out her selection at Freedom Rocks.
- Small acts of care – Enjoying small acts of care for yourself throughout the day can keep your mood high. Pause and enjoy each one and remember: you’ve got this. One simple and luxurious way to do this is with essential oils. Put something bright and citrusy in a diffuser in the morning. Roll something relaxing on your wrists and take a deep inhale when you feel yourself getting tense. There are so many practical and soothing ways to use them. Check out local Howell mom Lauren Gitlin’s Legit Oils for more ideas and upcoming workshops.
- Connect to your community – There’s a lot of reckoning, learning and unlearning happening right now. It can feel overwhelming to know where to start and how to help. So start local. Support businesses in your community that you love and want to see thrive. Connect to the people behind these businesses. Here is a great list of black-owned restaurants right here in Monmouth County.
- Manage your mind – It’s common to spend time, energy and money on keeping your body healthy and strong, but still not as common to do the same for the most important muscle of all: your brain. Becoming aware of your mind, including your common limiting thoughts, beliefs and triggers, can transform how you live your life. Red Bank mom Catherine Ferguson is a life coach who helps working moms redefine their relationship to work and how to balance it with the other parts of their lives. You can learn more here.
If nothing else, remember this simple adage. Control what you can control. Focus on that, starting with yourself, and watch your life begin to transform.
Catherine Ferguson is a life coach for moms and helps them rediscover their passions, redefine their work-life balance and reinvent their careers after kids. She’s a mom of a boy and a girl and lives in Red Bank. You can learn more at One Badass Mother