This week has been a tough one for me. For one, there’s just a lot to do between getting ready for Christmas and the two kids with Christmas birthdays. But I’ve also been carrying a heavy emotional burden with one of my children who is having a lot of problems lately, which is weighing on me even more heavily than my to-do list.
Basically this meme sums up exactly how I’m feeling.
Everyone goes through times when it feels like life has handed you too much. This is especially true with parents, who are juggling all the balls they can even when things are going well. Add on a few more troubles and it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed.
I’m in process of working on this overwhelm right now and I’m not claiming to be an expert on this. What I can share is the list of things that work for me when I feel bogged down emotionally and physically by how much life has handed me.
1. Practice the art of delegating
Life handed you too much? Hand some of it off.
Sure you may be carrying around an emotional burden that can’t be handed off, but if you give away some of the tangible tasks it can free you up enough to better deal with all of that.
Some tasks that can be delegated:
- Childcare- call upon family members or a babysitter
- Housework- ask your partner to take over a couple tasks that are typically yours
- Social commitments- kids are the best excuse to get out of anything. If attending a social event is putting you over the edge, one of them can easily become “sick” 😉
- Learn to say no! So many times we end up with too much on our plate because felt compelled to say yes when we should have said no.
2. Sleep it off
You can’t use this one all the time obviously, but sometimes when you can’t cope with your emotions, a stretch of sleep is the miracle cure.
Personally, my body does this on its own when I’m overwhelmed. My husband loves to laugh about the night he proposed to me. It was such a big event for me and so emotional that my body just shut down and went to sleep. He had a special dinner planned that he wanted to make me and I passed out on the couch and couldn’t get myself to wake up for it.
It turns out there’s actually science to this, as sleep can emotionally re-set the brain. Dr. Alice Boyes writes:
If you’re finding yourself having an unproductive day or an emotionally difficult day, try having a nap to get an emotional re-set. A nap of about 90 minutes (but not longer) is probably going to be necessary to give yourself the greatest emotional re-set benefits. This is because if you sleep 90 minutes you’ll go through one complete cycle of all five of the 5 stages of sleep, including REM sleep. REM sleep seems to be important for the emotional resetting process.
3. Call upon your support network
Who is the best listener in your life who will let you lay all your problems out there with no judgement? Time for a two hour phone call with them.
Or maybe it’s the friend who is sure to make you laugh. Invite them out for a drink.
Whoever it is you need, reach out. Holing up by yourself and eating your feelings is not likely to help.
4. Find your tribe
There are the times when it feels like no one can understand what you’re going through right now.
The good news is, there are millions of people out there. Someone out there can relate! You just need to find them.
There are support groups out there for adoptive parents, special needs parents, people who are going through divorce, etc. Connect with the people who will get what you’re dealing with.
Short on time or lacking what you need in your local community? Online forums might be your next best thing. Your tribe might be a quick Google search away.
Can’t deal with your life at the moment? Dive into someone else’s life through a book or a movie. Maybe video games get you into another world where you forget your own problems. Throw yourself into a creative project if art is your form of escape.
For me, travel is the ultimate escape guaranteed to get me into happy mode. Since trips can’t happen as often as I’d like, I generally do the next best thing- start planning my next vacation. I can go into my travel planning zone for hours and it really does make me forget my problems and focus on happy times.
Although escape can be effective, make sure you keep this coping mechanism in check. You don’t want to use this one too much, because at the end of the day we have to face our problems.
Moms, I know you read this all the time and give it a little eyeroll and move on. Who has the time when we are already overly taxed? But really, self-care is HUGE.
For me, making exercise a priority is the best kind of self-care because I like doing it and I feel great after. But everyone has their own thing and you need to do what makes YOU happy.
A pedicure is another treat that makes me feel like a human again. Or if spending money isn’t in cards, a super long shower or bath. Meditation or simple mindfulness activities are helpful for lots of people as well.
Really any time to myself will do. But you do you when it comes to self-care. It’s all about making yourself and your relaxation a priority.
7. If you still can’t cope, turn to professionals
We all get down and feel overwhelmed at times. If you feel unable to cope and it’s ongoing, there is no shame in getting professional help. If it turns out you’re facing depression or anxiety, you don’t want to go through that on your own. Get the help you need so you can feel better and enjoy your life again.