One of the most overwhelming and stressful moments of my life/business/motherhood journey was when Amelia was just 6 months old. I was on my way home from work… late of course and she was home, waiting for her next breastfeed while I ran a mental list of everything I needed to do before I got home to her, in my mind. I’d stopped on the side of the road to answer the business phone… another booking. I scrambled to find a scrap of paper to take the details while planning my next moves. Pick up some groceries, check the PO Box and drop off gear to an employee. I could feel my milk-filled breasts starting to burst and I was still half an hour away from town.
I rushed into the supermarket, I grabbed the few things I needed and b-lined straight for the 12 items or less line. I smiled as the lady scanned my items and asked for my money. Except I had none. I had NONE. No wallet! I’d left it at school. I was mid-juggle… all balls (made of glass) in the air and all I could do was shut my eyes and physically stop. As the glass balls smashed around me, I accepted defeat and just started to cry.
Maybe this has happened to you too? That feeling of total overwhelm? The feeling of everything being out of your physical control… a beast chasing you down until you stop running and accept the defeat, letting it trample over the top of you.
Life hasn't been perfect since (and it won't be perfect in the future) but the great news is, that I found some strategies and practices to help combat my stress and overwhelm, and I'd like to share them with you.
Just take some time out for yourself each day. Self-care doesn’t have to fancy, elaborate or even expensive. It can just be taking 5 or 10 mins out for yourself to have a cup of tea, read a book or take a bath. It could be a few moments of practising mindfulness techniques and concentrating on breathing. Or get out of the house and take a walk, go to a coffee shop or do the grocery shopping on your own (I highly recommend this).
If time and cash are on your side, then plan for something bigger every now and then. Book a facial or massage, enjoy lunch with a friend or take an overnight retreat at a hotel. Spoil yourself. Taking regular time out to practice self-care will revitalise you, help to clear your mind and be kind to yourself. Try it!
Keeping your mind clear is vital for reducing stress and overwhelm. Keep a notepad in strategic places (next to your bed, on your desk etc) or keep notes on your phone or device as they pop into your mind. Jot down anything that you suddenly remember, worries you or requires further follow-up and then move those things onto a scheduled to-do list, on the specific day that it needs to be done.
The great thing about writing notes and creating lists is that your brain doesn’t have to retain it. Once you’ve recorded it, you can cleanse it from your mind and get about your day feeling a little lighter. Trust in this process and be consistent with it, and you will feel so much better.
Why do we feel like we must do everything ourselves? The most successful people in the world aren’t one-woman shows and we shouldn’t be either. Talk to your friends, husband, neighbours, colleagues or family about things you need help with and ASK for help!!! Most of us are pretty bad at this, but it will help.
I recently hired a cleaner to come once a fortnight to the serious cleaning, like vacuuming and mopping floors, the bathrooms, skirting boards, windows etc and yes, I throw the money at it…. And it’s worth every fricken cent. I can’t even begin to describe the weightlessness I feel when I arrive home from work and walk into a sparkling clean home. I feel lighter, in control and organised which frees me up to concentrate on other things like spending quality time with my child or sitting down to write this blog post!
Other things you can delegate or get help with is hiring a baby sitter or nanny for a couple of hours a week, sharing the school drop-offs and pick-ups with another mum, meal planning to avoid last minute overwhelm and crappy nutritional choices, ordering the groceries online and having them delivered or even some of your least-favoured business tasks like accounting/book work or a VA to help with online marketing and customer service. If you need to delegate it, there’s a service for it!
Free yourself up to work on what you enjoy.
When the days are long, the pay is crap and the kids decide to paint the floors and walls with food, just remember that there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
Making a conscious decision to reflect on your day and think of one thing (big or small) that you’re grateful for can change your entire mindset and combat stress.
Best of all, practice your daily gratitude at bed time. Keep a journal next to your bed where you can record your gratitude and make it the last thing you do before you go to sleep. Not only will your body respond well to this positive state, you will sleep better and generally feel well. In turn, you will likely begin your day feeling much lighter and stress-free.
For some reason, we tend to focus on the things that go WRONG in our life or business. These stories are usually the ones we tell people when they ask how things are going. I’m right… right? The thing is that negativity breeds negativity. The more we dwell on the things that went wrong, the more in tune our mind and body is with things generally being this way.
What if you flipped it and you made a conscious decision to celebrate the wins in your life or business as they arise? I’m not talking about the ‘big stuff’ but also the small stuff. Celebrate a new sale or client. Celebrate getting your accounts up to date. Celebrate publishing your blog post or sending out your newsletter. Celebrate getting the bathrooms clean. You see where I’m going?
The more you celebrate and recognise, the more in tune your mind and body will be with success.
It’s ridiculous to celebrate cleaning the bathroom… that’s just one your jobs right? No. By ‘celebrate’ I mean ‘acknowledge’. Not every celebration requires a reward. Sometimes, a simple acknowledgement is plenty.
So busy mumma, stop and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and make the conscious decision that you aren’t going to let stress and overwhelm consume you. Tell yourself that YOU’RE IN CONTROL and you’re going to TAKE CHARGE of the systems and routines in your life. Choose one or two things from the list above to work on and get started today. You CAN combat the stress in your life.
It starts today.