I listen to mom’s and what they are saying on my journey to be helpful to all of you, and to myself. My blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and posts all reinforce things to me too. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I want you to start to analyze your days. Start looking at patterns of what overwhelms you. As you find the patterns you can interrupt them and develop a new way to decrease your feelings of being overwhelmed. If we find the source, then we can fix it. Let’s start with my Mondays. I am going to give you some examples and then we are going to jump into some tips on how to feel less overwhelmed in your days.
Let’s start with how I label Mondays. I call them Marathon Mondays or Monday Madness. What if I change the title to Magical Monday? I get to enjoy another Monday! I have made my Mondays a complete and total marathon. I did that. I created it.
My girls go off to school (my son is remote learning this year), and the day begins. I started to notice a pattern in my thoughts. I look at the clock a lot and wonder, “What else can I fit in?” It is my absolute pleasure to pick up my girls from school. What this means is that at 2:15 PM I need to wrap up whatever I’m doing and head to their schools. If Seth drives them to school, they leave at 8:30 AM and my brain says, “Ready, set, go.” I did this. I created this message every Monday. Yesterday I walked the dog, did laundry and dishes, took the cats to the vet, went to Wegmans (local grocery store), unpacked my groceries and got dinner cooking in the crockpot. I am going to be authentic and real with you always and tell you that I raced around like a lunatic. I am laughing at myself while I type this because I know that I created my Mondays.
After I got my girls home the evening list began with driving them to theater, finishing prepping dinner, feeding my family and attending two meetings. I am happy to be involved in my children’s schools. I choose to do that and attend meetings that are important to me. I realize over and over again that the biggest driver to my feeling overwhelmed are my thoughts. I know that I need to be present and enjoy the moment. I know that I need to slow down and smell the roses. I know that my Mondays don’t have to be a marathon.
I wake up every Tuesday so thankful that it’s Tuesday. I got my girls to school and smiled at the day I had ahead of me. I was going to walk my dog and do positive self-talk the entire walk. I was going to come home and begin typing this blog. My head is still racing wondering what I can fit in before 2:15 PM today, but it is much less chaotic today.
If we can identify the source of your feelings of being overwhelmed, then you can begin to problem solve and make it better. I interviewed Jennifer Blossom on my podcast. She asked me to tell her one thing that overwhelms me. The first thing that came to my mind at the time was dishes. I had a pile of dishes waiting for me in my sink. She told me her system. She finishes all her dishes the night before and gets the dishwasher running. She unloads the dishes the next morning and then as they use dishes all day, she puts them in the dishwasher throughout the day. That is what works for her. She came up with a system that makes dishwashing feel less overwhelming.
What overwhelms you? Think about it. Go through your day and analyze what parts of it are overwhelming to you. I tended to get overwhelmed about picking up the girls from school and then having to run to activities. I was racing around in my mind. I decided to change my thoughts and have a plan. I would identify what time we need to leave so that I didn’t feel rushed. Leaving earlier tends to make me feel less overwhelmed. I am the type of person that thinks that being on time means being a little early. I prep with my son and daughters in regards to what they need and let them know what time we are going to be leaving. These steps have made me feel less overwhelmed. Giving them a warning that we are leaving in 10 minutes also helps as they have been warned and can finish getting ready.
If the laundry is overwhelming you come up with a system. Do you want to do all the laundry in one day? Do you want to do a load or two each day? Do you want to get your family involved in doing their own laundry? What will make you feel less overwhelmed. What works for me is to do at least one load a day. That doesn’t mean that system will work for you.
Identifying the cause of the stress is always the first step. I encourage you to do one of my favorite things that is called a brain dump. Write down everything that is overwhelming to you and stressing you out. Get it out. Just writing it down and getting it out may help. Then you can look at it and find patterns and the issues.
I did pretty good for most of my walk today. I listened to a great podcast and said positive things to myself the whole time. As I approached my driveway my mind began to race with all the things that I could start to do. I set a boundary with myself and said, “My priority today is my blog.” The good thing is I have a due date every week. I like to send my blog to my fabulous graphic designer Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. It is due every Wednesday. Everything that I would like to do today does not have a due date. I do not have to work on my podcast questions for my next guest today because the podcast is Friday. I have time. I do however have to finish this blog today. Everything is not the same priority in your day. Realizing that has been one of the greatest ways I have decreased my feelings of being overwhelmed. Ask yourself what your priorities are for your day. My priority today is this blog. If I finish it and have time for other things, then it will be a bonus. I set a boundary with myself that this has to get done and everything else can wait.
I used to feel guilty for asking for help. What about you? Do you feel guilty asking for help or have you gotten to the point where you realize that it takes a village and that it’s good to ask for help? We don’t have to do everything by ourselves. It’s not possible and is probably the biggest source to our meltdowns and feeling completely overwhelmed. As I thought about my Mondays, I started to think about what I could do differently and who I can ask for help. I was upstairs listening to my first meeting and I heard my husband doing the dishes. My first reaction was guilt, and that is not okay with me. It is okay for him to do the dishes. He is helping. My second thought was to smile and realize how helpful he is. I do not have to do all the dishes. I do not have to do all the cleaning. I do not have to run all the errands. Ask for help and figure out where you can delegate. I am going to be really honest again (like I always am) and tell you that I hate to clean. I do it a lot, but I don’t enjoy it. I need to prioritize having a cleaning lady come at least once a month to my house. I would rather spend hours and hours writing and make more money and use that money for a cleaning lady. Who can you hire? Who can you delegate to? Thank you, Seth for doing the dishes last night and for putting away all the food. I see how helpful you are, and I appreciate you.
Last but not least, I want to talk about something that is new to me but may not be new to all of you. I want to tell you that I used to have papers all over the house with lists on them. I use my phone schedule all the time. I write lists in my phone all the time. I also write lists on paper and find them all over my island. I finally bought myself a paper planner. I can plan out my days. I can write down my lists. I can have it all in one place. If you don’t have a paper planner, I recommend going to buy yourself one today. It will make you feel more organized and can keep your lists in one place. I also recommend spending time each day writing out and planning your day. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom who is home with kids all day. You still need to organize your day. There is nothing like a good list to help you stay focused and organized. Keeping them all in one place is a huge new bonus for me.
Summary of tips to feel less overwhelmed:
- Analyze your day. Identify the sources of the feelings of being overwhelmed. If you can identify it, you can start to problem solve a better way.
- Write it down. Getting it out helps in so many ways. Just writing can be therapeutic and it can also help you find the patterns.
- Pay attention to your self-talk. What you are telling yourself could be the biggest culprit. “What can I fit in,” was stressing me out. I need to change that message to, “What would I like to do next.”
- Ask for help. Delegate. Use your supports. Pay someone to do something that you don’t enjoy doing. Involve your family members more in the things that are overwhelming you. When Max can drive, he can run an errand for me!
- Buy yourself a paper planner and spend time planning out each day. Organize your day. Keep your lists all in one spot.
- Lists keep us focused and organized. Write it down and get it out of your head.
- Realize that everything is not the same priority. What are your priorities today and set boundaries around that.
- Go take a walk or exercise and clear your mind. That always helps me and gives me more energy.
- Be present. Take it step by step, hour by hour, day by day.
- Develop an organized system around the things that overwhelm you in your day.
I want you to go look in the mirror and tell yourself what a good job you are doing. I want you to smile at yourself and say, “You are doing a great job.” I will tell you over and over again that your inner self talk is most important to how you are feeling. I know how great you are. I know that you can do this. I hope that you will take one thing away from this to help you feel less overwhelmed in your days. I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment on my posts and tell me what you learned or what topics would be most helpful to you. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go make this a fantastic and less stressed day.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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