This is for Dear Overwhelmed Mom,
You get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends, and the internet as an exhausted working mom about how to handle jobs, kids, and a household.
How awesome will it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that without all those overwhelmed thoughts, you would start to feel better?
When you wear a lot of hats, the sensation of feeling overwhelmed: mom, professional, household manager, girlfriend, friend, etc. actually has its origins. You sure do a lot of important work. Here’s the thing, however: This emotion is now simply a part of you that needs your attention so that you can step on more confidently if feeling stressed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction.
Never be afraid if supporting yourself sounds too hard. These tips come to hack into the nervous system straight from therapy and neuroscience. You are going to discover deeper ways of calming down and becoming more positive in yourself, your life, and your decisions.
Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You:
The pioneer of Internal Family Systems Therapy, Richard Schwartz, describes our personalities as composed of sub-parts that communicate within us. This explains why you can feel a “part” of yourself one way and yet you have another part that feels different. It can soothe your body and mind by gently noticing the part of you that feels exhausted and giving it some encouragement and compassion (as you would a scared child). “I have you,” is a beautiful mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.
Get Your Wise Nervous System Smart
You may have learned of the brain or the brain of the “gut” or “body.” The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that, not just your conscious mind, the whole nervous system determines how you think and feel. In fact, did you know that before your brain can perceive it, your wise nervous system usually picks up information from your environment?
When you feel overwhelmed, the unconscious stimulus that tips you from busy yet competent to feeling freaked out and tired is sometimes just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system.
This cue may be as simple as a radio song that sounds excessively stimulating, the bad mood of a kid (even though it doesn’t have anything to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.
Remind yourself that a feeling can be a feeling just
Your physical body is automatically on high alert when you’re feeling upset. At these moments, any data or stimulus you get will feel overwhelming. This is not your fault, but it’s important to realize that it is generally not objectively accurate when you feel like you’re not good enough. Maybe your mind is only making a justification for the danger signals coming from your body. Enable your body to feel about itself or your life without making a negative decision. This approach will help you break the loop of feeling overwhelmed, then create negative thoughts about the feeling that will make you even more overwhelmed.
Learn your most popular unconscious stress responses
Why is this meaningful? You probably respond unconsciously in the same way throughout your life when you feel overwhelmed. Too much tension will easily produce a numb, hopeless feeling for others. The feeling that life is simply “too much” for others contributes to bouts of fear or frustration. Nevertheless, others can freeze entirely, feeling incredibly nervous but not able to do anything at all. Both of these experiences are pretty natural from a biological perspective. It’s much easier to convince yourself and step forward safely when you know that the responses of your body are not defective or foolish.
Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection
Enable yourself to linger on your favorite memories as much as you can, which evoke feelings of well-being, link to loved ones, moments of beauty in nature, or your favorite pet or location memories. To truly feel the feeling in your body, use all your senses. You activate and tone your ventral vagus nerve by doing this, as you would tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these sensations of pure material that you can return to when anxious. This exercise, like an indulgence or even a fantasy, can sound silly. But science supports it and it is necessary for you to build a powerful and safe reaction to stressors.
Give Baby Parts a Break
No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past. For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.
I know this may sound strange, But the next time you feel really overwhelmed, if you feel like a kid trying to do the job of an adult, take a breath and notice it. If so, spend a moment reminding all of your inner child parts calmly and compassionately that you are still grown, capable, and doing something suitable.
Or you can do the opposite of cleaning and do something fun. Screw waiting for Saturdays when everything is crowded. If you had a rough Tuesday, there is nothing better than going to do something fun that evening like bowling. It takes the monotony out of the week. Or if your children want to do an especially messy yet extra fun craft, these are the days to do them. Those giggles and smiles will remind you how wonderful life is. It might not be on a whim, but it is still fun to take a day trip in the middle of the week. Your week is breaking up.
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