Feeling overwhelmed? This may be why and what you can do about it.

Lately, has there been a prevailing knot in your chest each day? Does life seem to have gone back to warp speed where you hardly have a chance to catch your breath? Do feel like your life revolves around the kids, work, home and obligations on repeat? 

Have you never felt more content but so lost at the same time? Do you crave peace, routine and ease but also miss excitement and spontaneity?

Are you grieving for something you feel is lost, a loved one, a part of yourself, friends who have left, a career that could not be sustained in this season of life, or a level of health, youth, fitness, and vitality you used to have?

I could go on, but you catch my drift. This season of life feels overwhelming for many reasons, and the last few years of embracing new motherhood, losses, pandemics and global economic uncertainty have taken their toll.

Nothing in life feels at ease currently. The house is always a mess. We rush from place to place; nursery, school, classes and activities, and work. My own health concerns mean I can't care for myself in the way I once did and needed so badly for my self-esteem. My marriage is in a period of evolving and now we have met the big goals like buying a house, marriage and having a family, we are now figuring out the dynamic of being teammates and setting new goals. The pressure of navigating all of these changes, complex health challenges and the pandemic has rocked us. I have been disconnected from friends and family in a way that felt scary and lonely - the feeling of grief and loss is palpable.

Dealing with pregnancy discrimination and furloughs, and a seemingly endless list of rogue traders entering our lives and disappointing us out of pocket. Plus now we are in a recession yet again with the country in a financial meltdown, and there is a feeling of gloom at having worked so hard to now find quality of life and prospects sliding backward. 

Having to make tough personal sacrifices in order to support my family's wellbeing. Added to the strain of providing for and caring for a young family is a considerable responsibility and a world that feels very uncertain is anxiety-inducing. So much has changed in such a short period of time there is no wonder our heads are spinning and we are left short of breath.

I know I can't be alone in navigating these challenges. It's the perfect storm of entering matrescence, a period of time when new mothers are born along with the babies they birth, and just like adolescence is characterized by physical, emotional and mental changes that come with pregnancy and mothering. 

That in itself is reassuring to know and to have a word that so accurately describes the earth-shattering transformation having children brings. The feeling of being utterly blessed but also utterly changed. The wanting time to slow down to fully appreciate these most amazing little beings you have been lucky enough to create, but also finding this season of life challenging.

For many people these days, having families in their mid-thirties and beyond may also mean that you are also close to entering your forties or even fifties at a time when your children are small and parents are getting older and need more care. The squeeze that occurs here can lead to lack of a village and support that younger relatives could offer, but also additional caring responsibilities and the worry that runs alongside. 

All of this at a time of such global and environmental change, where it almost feels like you left a safe and familiar world with a good quality of life, peaceful times and freedom of movement, and we are now facing change, conflict and hardships.

Obviously each generation has experienced hard times and times of uncertainty,.. no-one is immune, as cultures shift and merge. It is certainly not a competition but certain challenges can be unique to each generation. However, the common retort from the older generation about them 'having it hard and not doing them any harm' does not alleviate our concerns today, nor should they wish for our children to experience such hardships. What are we here for as a society if not to improve things for our children and the generation to come? 

Also our social media generation is plugged into every development with it thrust in our faces 24/7. This only contributes to our simmering anxieties and inability to look away. The isolation of living through a pandemic for two years has also left us with deep wounds. Things are a long way from recovering for some, whether economically or from the loss of connection and resulting mental health crisis.

So in the face of this overwhelm, how do we navigate it and prevent burnout:

  • Limit social media and news consumption (sometimes it's better not to know everything and your body is hard wired to be alert to danger.give yourself a break)
  • Get out in nature, see what does not change, what is constant, i.e. the leaves turning red and gold in autumn, the birds busy foraging, the sun rising and setting)
  • Find a support network if you can (in a time when everyone seems to be in a state of overwhelm, finding a group or person who has the capacity to share the load is hard, so approach professionals if you need a safe space to vent)
  • Positive mental attitude and resilience are so important in life, not to cover up real emotions, but to know that you have done hard things before, you can again and things never stay the same. Brighter times are ahead. 
  • Gratitude journalling, writing or saying three things you are grateful for every day, from the loved ones in your life,, to the food in your belly and roof over your head, to the ability to move your body in a way that feels good. Find it, repeat it.
  • Spend time each day checking in with yourself about how you feel, what you need and what brings you joy. Schedule small rewards, breaks, self-care into each day to do something just for you
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. It may feel like not being at every function, event, children's activity or achieving everything will be terrible, but in reality, nothing awful will happen from cutting some slack where you can.
  • For the things you prioritise in your life, use small, realistic, achievable steps to get there. 
  • Most importantly, align with your values. Get really clear on who you are, what you value and need in life, and make sure you point yourself wholeheartedly in that direction.

The world may feel a bit much right now, and life may have challenges, but we are not going through it alone. Perhaps there is some comfort to be taken from that.

I'd love to hear about your experiences and if you have any other strategies for dealing with overwhelm and burnout...

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