You feel sick, foggy, tired and yet there is so much to do ..if only you could think clearly...
Have you ever felt overwhelmed? It doesn’t happen very often, but yesterday it did.
Feeling overwhelmed is a bit like being lost in the fog; I know there is nothing else for me to do but to sit relatively still and let it pass. I know it will. I just need to do nothing too much.
The truth is, I have a lot on. We all do don’t we. So yesterday I cried a bit, got hugged some, slept in the hammock and did nothing. But I did talk, and in the talking realised I was missing stuff:
It is the summer holidays in our house which means there is less structure and stimulus for the kids and I feel like I am nagging them to help around the house. In some ways, it also means I have less free time as whatever I do, I'm doing it with them, or around them or in negotiation with them.
Nor have I taken account of the time I’m spending in the garden now it's summer or the stuff around the house now we're all at home more, or all the little things I keep in my head for everyone else; his football, his drum lesson, the dogs, the washing, the food…all little unending time snags which keep me from focusing on anything bigger.
A friend on a walk once referred to it as ‘white noise’, the back ground hum of things ‘to do’ which runs for most of the women I know. There’s an old joke: ‘What does a man do before he goes to bed’ and the answer is something like ‘turn the light out’. Then ‘What does a woman do before she goes to bed’…and the list goes on for ever.
I saw an article in a paper about a comic book called ‘Mental Load’ and bought it. It sums up perfectly that sense of having loads of stuff in my head which no one else appears to share. I showed the book to my partner and he got it..and things changed for the better., he's sharing some of the mental load.
But what I hadn’t realised, is that it’s going on with my kids too. I had already clocked that they needed to be doing more around the house, and so now they do, but I hadn’t spotted how now there are so many more social complexities and I feel like I am in the middle of it all…not only driving, but keeping calendars and remembering who goes where, when.
The final straw was when the kid’s dad turned up late to meet them and they unwittingly walked into a minefield by suggesting I should have reminded him. Once I had peeled myself off the car ceiling, and in private cried and ranted I have decided:
- If it’s something to do with them, they can remember it, organise it, be late for it, miss it, apologise for it etc. I am delegating that back to them
- They can plan times, bus routes, collection points etc and then run them by me for approval rather than vice versa.
- They can chase up the people who said they would do things with them and they can send reminders.
I just can’t do it all. And actually, they need to learn to do more for themselves.
As soon as I realised that, the overwhelm started to clear, and I am reflecting on what I know about overwhelm, and how knowing it helps the feeling pass quicker. I no long fight against it and try to do more, I go with it and remember these simple things, which I know and then so easily forget.
- Stop trying to do it all
- Say ‘no’.
- Set boundaries
- Ask for help
- Get hugs
- Talk it through with someone who can listen for long enough for me to be able to find my way through.
- Do things which don’t involve my head (I’m off to walk the dogs...)
- Know that it will pass.
And it does.
Until next time.
I have space for two more clients at during August; find out more about my August offer here. You might also want to watch my recent Facebook Lives for Psychologies Magazine here and here. Finally, today is the last day my new book 6 Steps to Relationship Recover will be available at reduced price on Amazon.