We know that mom life can be completely overwhelming at times!
All of our responsibilities — taking care of the kids, driving them around to after-school activities, running errands, keeping the house clean and in order, preparing meals, and if you are like me, taking care of the family pets. And that is just a shortlist of what really goes on in our lives.
The kids need this, the husband needs that. The fridge is empty and the cat’s litter box needs to be scooped. What about me???
With all that goes on, it is very easy to quickly become overwhelmed. Especially since there is only so much time in the day to get it all done! Rushing around, not being present with ourselves, and not making ourselves a priority can absolutely take a toll on our health and wellbeing. I remember those days of feeling completely anxious from the start of my day until the end of the day, and it was not a good feeling.
When I was a regular drinker, my anxiety and overwhelm were through the roof, even on the days I wasn’t recovering from a hangover. I felt like I was constantly rushing around to get everything done. I had this constant feeling of angst hovering over me.
Being overwhelmed can also be a huge trigger for a mom to reach for an unhealthy substance to help escape the feeling of overwhelm or to try to calm themselves down. It can be like a switch for some, immediately wanting to numb out that feeling of anxiety and the non-stop chatter in their minds.
How can you help yourself minimize overwhelm and avoid those triggers that may lead you to grab that glass of wine, that bag of chips, or polishing off that container of chocolate chip cookies? I am going to share some healthy alternatives that you may want to consider exploring if you are someone who experiences those feelings of overwhelm:
- Keep your blood sugar balanced — I am sure you have heard the term “hangry” before. It’s a fact that being hungry does affect your mood and having low blood sugar will leave you screaming for unhealthy substances such as alcohol or sugar since the brain’s primary source of energy is glucose (sugar). Eating at regular 3–4 hour intervals will help keep your blood sugar stable. Also including protein and healthy fat at each meal and choosing a healthy snack that contains both, will help kick your cravings to the curb.
- Be prepared and have a healthy drink substitute on hand — Have something else, other than alcohol, readily available for you to drink if your feeling of overwhelm leads you to a trigger. Filtered water with lemon, orange, cucumber slices or mint is a refreshing, hydrating beverage. Some love alcohol-free mocktails. One of my favorites is kombucha. Tea is also a great option since many teas have a calming effect, with Chamomile being a big winner in this area.
- Take a break to calm down your nervous system — Plain and simple, your nervous system is on overdrive. Try doing some deep breathing — breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 2 and exhale for 8. Having a longer exhale helps calm the nervous system. Also, if you ask me, meditation is a miracle worker. It is a tool that I use daily. Just taking even 5 minutes to meditate can recharge you and give you both mental and physical energy to get through the rest of your day.
- Get moving — Go outside and take a walk around the block. Or try a HIIT session or other cardio exercise to get your heart pumping and feel the benefits of those endorphins being released. I guarantee any type of exercise will make your overwhelm a thing of the past. I have never met anyone who said they felt worse after exercising!
- Ask for help — This one was a big thing for me. I would never ask for help! I felt like I had to be a “super mom” who could handle all responsibilities and challenges. I believed that asking for help was a sign of being insufficient, which is SO NOT TRUE! Not only do I ask my husband for help if I feel it will take overwhelm off my plate, but since my boys are older now, I also have them involved. Also, let’s face it….it’s not just MY house to take care of and keep tidy! And those are not my socks that are laying on the floor by the couch!
- Don’t say yes to everything — When my boys were younger, I volunteered quite a bit. Four years on the PTA Board, classroom parent, co-president of the Mothers’ Club at my church, religion teacher, soccer team manager, membership chair, and social co-chair at our neighborhood pool. I would constantly be asked to do things and I would feel like I had to say yes and then I would feel overwhelmed because it was yet another responsibility added to my to-do list. Why was I constantly being asked? Because I KEPT SAYING YES! I finally woke up and realized I was feeling resentful for always feeling like I had to say yes, which was ridiculous. I made a conscious decision to only say yes to volunteer opportunities if it feels good to ME. Saying yes means saying no to you.
- Try the tactic “Play the tape forward” — If your feeling of overwhelm triggers you to drink or overindulge in unhealthy eating, try closing your eyes and visualizing 2 hours ahead. How will you feel physically and mentally for 2 hours in the future if you are to indulge in your unhealthy choice? How will you feel later that day or if you fast forward to the next morning? Imagine what your life will look like in the next 12–24 hours if you decide to give in to your trigger.
- Get out your journal — If you are feeling completely overwhelmed and are triggered to indulge, write about it! Some prompts to consider are “What is the source of my overwhelm? What’s my trigger? How am I feeling at the moment? What can I do to quiet that voice down? How can I take care of myself at this moment?”
Feelings of overwhelm can come and go, but having some tools and simple lifestyle shifts that will set you up for avoiding that overdrive in your nervous system and to use at the moment if needed, will set you up for not indulging in something that will make you feel worse and keep you in that dreaded cycle.
They are also all things that will help make you feel good in general after, so why not explore some of them and take note of how they make you feel?