One recent Sunday morning as I perused my social media feeds and saw yet another post/rant about the upcoming school year, I immediately started feeling tired. A reminder of the decision I had yet to make about whether I selected the in-person or virtual option being offered by my kid’s school district. I took another sip of my coffee and moved to my email inbox where I saw an email about recommendations on how to help my three-year-old adjust to wearing a mask. A text message then popped up from a friend, asking for prayer because someone they knew had tested positive for COVID-19.
This onslaught of news…all before I could even finish my first cup of coffee. Can you relate to the scenario above? There are days when I want to seriously turn it all off and go into hibernation till all is right with the world again. Tired is an understatement. Overwhelmed is the new tired. It inundates our days and even when we try to ignore it, we receive a notification or ping and we are lured back in. Decision fatigue has set in for so many of us and we look around for solace, to only find others around us are looking for the same.
Overwhelm Can Feel Like Grief
I remember when my grandmother, whom I was extremely close to, passed away. Her death hit me like a ton of bricks and I found it hard to maintain the day to day and grieve at the same time. A dear friend reached out and reminded me of this quote,
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
The same could be said for this season of overwhelm in which we all find ourselves. We are in a sort of grief over “what once was.” We are being asked to make the best decisions on things of which we aren’t even certain. It’s overwhelming. But as the quote so beautifully reminds us, we can learn to live with this. We can heal and rebuild. And that healing can start now by doing small things for ourselves when that overwhelm sets in.
So if you are looking for a bit of respite, check out this list. I polled parents just like you who are overwhelmed and I asked them what they would want done for themselves when they feel overwhelmed. May this list be a starting place for yourself and for others as we continue to navigate this new normal.
10 Ways to Practice Self Care When Feeling Overwhelmed:
- Buy yourself some flowers. Flowers brighten a space and having them in your home on a non-celebratory day is a nice treat!
- Enjoy your favorite drink or snack. A few pieces of your favorite chocolate or a generous portion of chips and queso isn’t going to wreck you (unless you’re lactose intolerant!). Your favorite foods can transport you back to happier, calmer, memories. So indulge every once in a while.
- Reach out to your partner and ask for help. Switch the normal roles and have them take over dinner prep and the evening routine. Coordinate schedules and make sure you ask for what you need. Then go and enjoy your bubble bath or glass of wine guilt free.
- Wake up early and grab your coffee or tea and read one of your favorite books for fun. An actual book…and it doesn’t need to be educational. We have lost the art of reading for pleasure. Rom-com or sci-fi? Take your pick and indulge.
- Trade off dinner prep with a friend. One night you cook enough dinner to feed her family. The next night, it’s her turn to cook enough to feed your family. Meals can be prepped in advance, prepared, frozen, and then retrieved for a quick porch drop off. An added sweet treat is also a nice gesture!
- Purchase a weighted blanket and snuggle up on the couch during family movie night. Weighted blankets have been proven to act as a deep pressure massage and helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Do your research and find the weight that works for you, then sit back and relax.
- Make napping a lifestyle. Naps aren’t just for the kiddos. They can be very restorative for adults as well. They can also be a form of liberation according to The Nap Ministry, an organization that examines the liberating power of napping and provides workshops that “explore the healing power of rest.”
- Take a walk in nature. Go beyond your normal stroll or run through your neighborhood and take the scenic route. Look for hiking trails, preservations, and parks in your local area that offer some beautiful views. Remember to wear your mask!
- Hire a day sitter to take your kids out for a few hours a week for a socially distant excursion. Bambino Sitters is great way to hire a local trusted sitter for the day. Or trade off with another mom that you trust and alternate taking kids for a few hours in a socially distant way.
- Get involved. Taking the time to focus on others in a meaningful way is a powerful mood shifter. Anti-racism work, public education advocacy, health equity, etc.,…There are so many ways to bring energy to you but also lighten the load for so many who are doing the heavy lifting in the work I mentioned above. One example is Support Our Scrubs, where owner and founder Crystella Mcivor’s mission is to support the local medical community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through her initiative, her organization has helped countless members of the medical community through food delivery to medical facilities, volunteering, preparation and delivery of thrive treat baskests, PPE mask donation, and more. Volunteers, whether individual, families, or other organizations have been encouraged to participate. Most recently, one of our CCM contributors, Sarah Shiplett, in collaboration with Christi Tracy of Grow Yoga and 17 yoga teacher trainees as part of their Karma Project, had the opportunity to create and deliver 49 thrive treat baskets to SEVEN hospitals in our local area! Please check out Support Our Scrubs and join in on their efforts to bring some love and light to our frontline heroes in the medical community.
I hope that this list will provide you with a few alternatives to work through your moments of overwhelm. If you ever get to the point where you are unable to cope, please reach out to a licensed therapist or psychiatrist in your area. Many of them have now switched to virtual services and are more than happy to provide the mental care and support that you need.