How To Obliterate Stress and Overwhelm in 6 Simple Steps
As a mother, I do achieve so many things in one single day, I sometimes find it hard to believe I can be so productive if I put my mind into it; some of them, I don’t even define them “things” as they have become second nature.
Caring for another human being is time consuming (and I wouldn’t have it otherwise), and I need to allow plenty of moments to bake, clean, re-clean, tidy up, dress, change, bath, wipe away tears, drive, etc. on top of working, studying, acting like a normal human and have a fulfilling relationship. If I sit down and think about what working (and non-working) mothers do, I can only sigh with overwhelm.
Until some years ago, and still in some countries, motherhood wasn’t meant to be lived this way; a mother was not asked to run around like a crazy bee and spread herself too thin, but because of financial reasons, peer pressure, and pure biology, that’s where we are nowadays. In this day and era is very easy to get overwhelmed due to the constant need to show up, be informed, be proactive and to keep up the façade.
But some weeks are tougher than others, and when shit hits the fan, I have few tools in place to cut down on the overwhelm and recharge my batteries:
It pains me immensely to admit that coffee isn’t my best friend when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Although caffeine can give me that immediate kick of feeling on top of the world, it doesn’t support my energy levels and mental sanity in the long term.
It doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking coffees altogether, maybe your body reacts completely different from mine, but it’s worth to ask yourself some questions: How well do you sleep at night? How long does it take you to fall asleep? Do you feel like you can’t function without coffee? Do you always feel agitated, or have a short fuse? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, you may want to momentarily reconsider your relationship with coffee, and see if you can swap it with another beverage for the time being.
Also, coffee by itself may not be the culprit, but caffeine is found in chocolate, medications, frizzy drinks, sports gel, and it all adds up. Caffeine can be over stimulating for our overworked adrenals, which is why it’s always better to cut it down when we are feeling anxious or we are going through a majorly stressed period, as it’s gonna deplete our energy reserves in the long term.
Eat for energy
When we are feeling low in energy, or we had a poor night sleep, we reach out for sugar; we are not faulty, it is our body that is looking for the quickest source of glucose so it can pick up the energy and function at its best; truth is, that this will lead to a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and will cause a major slump, normally at some stage in the afternoon.
The best thing you can do when feeling low in energy is to keep fueling your body with nurturing meals made of organic, whole foods. Always have a plate filled with veggies, with some fats and high-quality protein for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If still feeling peckish, have some nuts, apple, and peanut butter, and energy ball as a snack twice a day.
This change in diet will decrease the oxidative damage caused by junk food, external stressor, and environmental pollutants, leaving much more space for your liver to function at its peak. Moreover, this way of eating stabilises your blood sugar level, decrease inflammation, support your hormones, and feed your gut microbiome. It is basically a win-win situation for your body, mind, and soul.
Supplement your neurotransmitters
When feeling overwhelmed, your body hunts down all the good minerals and vitamins that are floating around in order to support homeostasis; under a period of major stress, magnesium, vitamin Bs and C are normally the first ones that get used up, which is why it is important to replenish our body by refueling it with the above nutrients.
All the important nutrients can be obviously obtained from foods, but sometimes our need is much greater than our intake, and that’s when supplementation can be very handy.
Plan and schedule
When stressed, it is very easy to focus on the small things in life, and we fail to look at the bigger picture. The first things that go are normally all the things that maintain our sanity, such as our self-care routine. Which is why it is important to plan and schedule our week in advance so we won’t feel so powerless. When I say self-care, I don’t only mean a 45 minutes massage, but also a daily meditation routine, extra sleep in the morning, our favorite meal for dinner, or some extra help until we get our power back.
To give you an example, I have just been through a very stressful period, and my amazing husband has taken all the shopping and cooking on board; he was happy to do it, and I’m sure I will be able to repay him in the future.
Sleep when you can
I don’t feel there is a great need to expand on this, but sleeping is paramount; this is when our body heals, our liver gets cleaned up and our brain is wired again. In an ideal world, we would need to sleep 7–9 hours per night. As a mother, I know it is almost impossible. Still, we can prioritise rest instead of coffee with a friend, we can go to sleep 15 minutes earlier and avoid watching another episode of Suit on Netflix, and we can schedule in 10 minutes of meditation every lunchtime (or as soon as we have 10 baby-free minutes) where we can breathe and refocus.
Move and meditate
And last but not least, meditate and move with mindfulness. Avoid exerting your body and increasing even more the level of cortisol. Chose a relaxing activity that sparks joy and make it happen. Sometimes it’s enough to dance naked in front of a mirror while listening to Latin music, other times it can be a flowy Pilates class at the nearest gym. And whenever you can walk in nature and next to the ocean as the negative ions are a breath of fresh air (no pun intended) for your overwhelmed system.