Hey mama, I know you have a lot on your hands right now and are fully aware of your stress load. My guess is you’re running on negative time (I’m convinced a mother will invent time travel…) due to all the unforeseen interruptions that have side tracked your day with the little ones. So I’ll be brief, honest and hopefully helpful.
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I’m not going to share a list of self care ideas that will ward off your stress. Yes, moms need hot baths, massages and space to have two consecutive thoughts all by herself. That’s a given, and the topic feels overly talked about. Plus, mom breaks are more of a bandaid to stress. In my book “Tap In Not Out,” I share my raw and real stories about how surviving the day to live for my mom breaks resulted in a life half enjoyed. I discovered that I’m not here to just check out of my existence so I can later soothe myself with something chocolatey. We find true inner peace when we tap into our lives.
So this is what I will offer – a clarity checklist. Overwhelm is often due to lack of clarity on what to do, think or feel. When we are swimming in a sea of new things or in an unknown season of life or handling something that’s unfamiliar, it can be difficult to know how to move forward. The build up of frustrated energy from not knowing exactly what is the stress.
For me personally, it’s usually less obvious. The stress comes from the unseeable emotional and mental toll of an accumulation of events or maybe one really big one. This isn’t isolated to only negative moments. The good times can feel just as overwhelming if I am having to wade through new territory. So keep this in mind if you feel stressed but can’t put your finger on exactly why! Here is a list to help you tap into what may be the underlying cause of your stress. Once you find it, you will have a better idea of what you need in order to help yourself!
- Is there something uncontrollable happening in your life – physically, emotionally or mentally? In this situation, ask yourself what you really want to feel – maybe you just need to know that you’re a good mom, loved by your partner, valued in your job, free of guilt, beautiful in your own skin, or free of the need to compare yourself. Whatever the story is that you’re telling yourself, most narratives lead to the feeling of “I’m not enough.” The good news is that you’re not alone! This is the undercurrent feeling that humanity wrestles with and it just manifests different ways for everyone. I’d encourage you to delve into self-love. This could mean being more honest and open about your feelings, tending to your heart instead of ignoring it, learning how to process your emotions instead of stuffing them, giving yourself permission to change or hiring a coach or therapist. In my mind, this is true self care.
- Are you trying to predict what is going to happen? As mamas, we hold a lot of energy inside of us – worry for our child’s development and emotional wellbeing, thoughts about the future and security, lists for all the things, multiple schedules, concern about our interpersonal relationships, frustrations with our body image and need for that hot bath. Maybe you are feeling anxious. Is that because life looks different than how you imagined? Ask yourself what in your life is controllable and are you willing to show up fully for that and let go of the rest? Whatever is causing you to worry, it is pulling you out of the present moment. I encourage you to come back to the moment, listen to what you actually need (love, support, a hug, a piece of chocolate), and offer yourself grace and compassion to have that.
- What are you tolerating in your life? Obviously, this could be an addiction, a bad habit or a toxic relationship; however, sometimes this isn’t so clear. It’s the “death by a thousand little cuts” that’s actually stressing you out. For instance, it could be that the car is always dirty, your bathroom drawers are disorganized, the dog slobbers on the couch, your kids don’t listen to you the first, second or third time, you’re always late to places, and so on. Maybe find one toleration that is secretly draining you the most and find a solution for it. Getting that one thing cleared up may actually free up your emotional/physical/mental energy enough to make you feel recharged!
The purpose of this checklist is to build self-awareness. When you know yourself, you can care for yourself. You can manage your life and the stresses that accumulate with more wisdom. I encourage you to find one point and lean into it. No need to tackle your whole life right away. Chip away what’s holding you back and keeping you down with one step at a time. In the words of Roo Panes’ song “Little Giants” – “Start small; grow tall.”