Do you sometimes feel like you are spinning in circles? The to-do list is growing faster than you can tame, and the pile of laundry sits on the sofa mocking you. You try your hardest to keep up with things, and sometimes you make a little headway…then life happens, and you fall flat on your face again, wondering when will the stress ever stop.
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When you are overwhelmed
There are days when I feel that way too. It puts me in a sour mood, and I just don’t have the energy or the right frame of mind to do the things I know need to get done. It’s a horrible slump and if I let myself get stuck in that rut, let’s just say my family members will see the worst side of me.
So over the years, I have tried to guard myself against that slump. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by things that happen – some within our control, most of it not. But there are a few ways that we can get ourselves out of the rut, and move beyond the paralyzing feeling of overwhelm.
Prayer is our lifeline. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, PRAY. I cannot emphasize this often enough. Always have a few anchor verses that you have memorized, and meditate on them throughout the day. Talk to God about your feelings and anxiety, and let His love overwhelm you instead. He’s got this. We need to trust Him, not our life’s circumstances.
One of my favorites is Zephaniah 3:17 and meditating on God’s love for me melts away my worries and helps me to remain quiet and trusting in His plans for me.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)
The last thing you need is more responsibilities on your plate. If it is possible, take some of it off. At the very least, pause on everything so you have some space to breathe. Postpone a few appointments, complete only the very urgent matters, then block out time in your planner for rest.
Don’t run on empty. When you are overwhelmed, press pause on life…at least for a bit. 🙂 Stop and smell the roses – literally. Regroup and give yourself space to think.
Recognize your Season of life
One of the most powerful lessons I learned many years ago as I went for a weekend retreat for Christian women was on seasons. Being in Singapore (where it is sunny most of the time), the word “seasons” didn’t mean much to me. But as I grew in my knowledge of how to care for my emotional health, it dawned on me how beautiful God’s design is for us to witness different seasons so that we can understand how there are different seasons in life too.
There is a reason why God made day and night. There is a reason why there is summer, autumn, winter and spring. There is such beauty in each season. But our modern society has desensitized us to the rhythm of how we were meant to be – with artificial light, exciting night-life, and phones that keep notifying us of the latest and the greatest. We can hardly keep up.
And we wonder why we feel so overloaded with information and feel a sense of helplessness and overwhelm at times.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (NIV)
Our babies will not be little forever. They will grow out of diapers, learn to feed themselves, and will one day not want to hold your hand. Our troubles will not be here forever either. It may feel like the worst day of your life right now, but life is full of ups and downs, and things will get better – especially if you have Jesus in your heart.
So take the time to look at the big picture – what season of life are you in right now? Recognize it and embrace all that it brings along. We’ve got to take the bad with the good. That is how we grow. That is how plants grow and flowers blossom – it all starts with at least a little bit of dirt.
I started using this method a few years ago when I was newly promoted. Instructions and tasks were flying to me at a rate that I could not keep up with, and that caused a lot of mental stress and anxiety in me. So after every meeting, I would head back to my desk, refill my bottle of water, and just sit and write. I couldn’t wait to get it all out on paper.
Brain-dump is literally what it is – dump everything that is in your brain (“I got to do this, and yes, this, and that, and this too…yes, this too!”) onto paper. There is something about writing things down that frees your mind. When thoughts are just flying around in your mind, it takes up brain-space. Writing them down helps you get clarity on what needs to get done and I promise – once they are out of your brain, you will feel less stressed, and a lot clearer on what needs to be looked into.
Once everything is on paper, rank every task according to your priorities for this season. What needs to be done today? Which task can wait? What is most important? Which task can you tackle first so that the rest of the tasks will be made easier?
Decide on your top priorities, and give every task a number. I’m serious! There can be no ties. You have to choose. After you are done ranking, there you go – you are now looking your timeline and plan.
Here is a glimpse of how it looks like on my schedule:
Do just 1 thing
The hardest part when getting out of a sense of overwhelm or when you are stuck in a rut is getting started. Momentum is created when you get moving, and you will find it easier to continue getting more things done. So remind yourself of your anchor verses, rely on God’s grace, and do just one thing – tackle your first task.
You can do it!
After you have completed a certain number of tasks, consider giving yourself a little reward. After all, you have done what you committed to, and that in itself deserves a mini celebration! Small steps toward the right direction will bring us toward our large goals, so keep going.
Build your dreams slowly but faithfully. Don’t expect transformation to come overnight. Persevere and build momentum by just doing the next right thing, again and again, and again…and soon, you will see how far you have come.
Meet a Friend
Friendships are precious gifts from God, and when you are able to have a genuine, honest conversation with a friend, it helps you gain another person’s perspective and insight. All of us have unique views of the world, so when we feel overwhelmed, having an outsider’s opinion will help clear up our foggy mind and bring clarity to know what we need to do.
Friends are essential for our emotional health, so schedule a time to meet up with someone you know will lift your spirits up!
Read a good book
Books have a way of unraveling our thoughts through another person’s insight and wisdom. I have a few that I depend on regularly, and I highly recommend getting them if you do not have these on your shelves yet.
Crystal Paine – Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
Sally Clarkson – The Mission of Motherhood
Emily P. Freeman – Grace for the Good Girl (a must-have for all the good girls)
Becky Thompson – Hope Unfolding
Peter Scazzero – Daily Office (this was a game-changer for my emotional health – if you can only afford one book, get this)
Holley Gerth – You’re Already Amazing
Jamie C. Martin – Steady Days
Bonnie Gray – Finding Spiritual Whitespace (transformed my year of rest in 2015)
I hope these tips have blessed you, and please know that you are never alone.
And I have to make it clear here – dear Mama, if your issues have been long-drawn and you are already having very serious unhealthy suicidal thoughts, or you are going through postpartum depression, I want to strongly encourage you to seek professional help. In my previous counseling profession, I remember seeing clients who were so entrenched in negativity and depression that I really wished they had sought help earlier.
There is nothing shameful about depression. Nothing to feel guilty about. If you need help, just seek it okay? *hugs*
Created just for you!
In the past few months, many of you have shared about how you feel overwhelmed with motherhood and the nitty gritty parts of daily life, and you just don’t know how to get more rest.
Friends, you don’t have to stay in burned out or overwhelmed mode. That is not how God desires for us to live. Seek His purpose and keep reading the Bible. Pray for His enablement to rise above your life’s circumstances and believe that you can live a victorious life in Christ.
When you have greater clarity and purpose, you will be able to develop a happy homemaking routine that fits your family’s dynamics. You will also naturally be more rested and joyful.
That is why I have created a 6-day email series called “Space for the Mama’s Heart to Rest” – just for you.
Simply enter your email address below and an email will be sent to your inbox each day – for 6 days. This series is designed with the purpose of helping you go from being a burned out and overwhelmed Mama, to a more focused, rested and happy Mama.
It is full of practical tips and encouragement that I believe will make a difference to you!
When you are overwhelmed, everything feels like such a drain on your energy. But when you are rested, your children benefit from having a more patient and joyful family environment.
Gratitude for May
As we round up the month of May, this is what I’m thankful for too.
God has led me through a month of deeper rest and healing from an emotionally challenging March and April, so that I can be a fellow kindred spirit to you and say, “I know. I understand. Will you let me help you?”
June is a perfect time for self-reflection and tweaking of priorities. For my friends in Singapore, it is the start of the school holidays. For my friends in America, it is the start of summer. What better timing than now to reflect on how the first 6 months have been, and start making space for your heart to REST…so you can be an emotionally healthier Mama, who serves your family from a heart that is joyful and rested?
I am so excited to come alongside you on this journey of learning to bask in the love of God, and I pray that this will bless you deeply!