February 21, 2020 /

5 Steps to Overcome the Overwhelm

Photographer Mom talks about overcoming the overwhelm in motherhood, life, and business. Includes her 5 steps, in order.

Some days I wake up and feel like the stars have aligned.  The house is quiet, I’m the only one awake, I make a cup of tea, pull my hair back and get stuff DONE;  I tackle the inbox, write a blog post, plan activities for the girls that day, make breakfast, and even take time to dream BIG for what’s next.  On those days nothing can shake me, I’ve overcome the overwhelm.  Heck, I may even get more than two loads of laundry done! 😉

And then there are the other days.

Ohhhh you know those other days. Those days where you wake up and immediately want to just stay in bed. Those days when the milk spills for the third time, it takes all your patience to get the kiddos on the bus (where are your shoes? Yes, you have to wear a coat!).  The couch with Paw Patrols on for the littles and Facebook scrolling for you sounds like about all you can do.  

Motherhood is no joke y’all.  Owning your own business on top of it isn’t for the faint of heart.

You guys know that. We all have millions of things fighting for our attention. A to do list that grows at an alarming rate, almost Gremlin-esque in its ability to multiply. Whatever you do, just please don’t feed it after midnight. There’s the daily life giving requirements, the constant care and feeding of our littles, upkeep of the house, never ending laundry, as well as a whole host of requests and demands that needed to be done yesterday. It’s a lot.  And on those days when I’ve pushed too hard for too long and the to do list gets out of control, I find myself at the bottom of the tank… and I land with a thud.  

There are a lot of different names for the thud. You can call it overwhelmed, burnt out, in need of a time out (Mom’s Night Out anybody??) but they really all boil down to one thing: you have WAY too much to do, NO idea where to start, you feel DEFEATED before you even begin, and so you waste another precious day falling further behind when you could be getting caught up.

I’ve been there, believe me I have.  Sometimes I still go there.  “I have so much to do, I don’t know where to begin” so I don’t. Begin, that is. 

Here are some steps I use to Overcome the Overwhelm, Shake off the Funk, and Get Back to the Hard Work to be Done! Here it is, in order:

1. Do Something Fun. 

Sometimes what triggers those I-don’t-wanna days is that I feel like I never have time to be a normal human, let alone an adult.  So the first thing I have to do before I can even think about shaking off that funk and not feeling overcome by the overwhelmed is to do something for me that’s fun.  I do it without rushing, this is key. I take a walk, read two chapters in a favorite book, make a pot of tea and drink it while it’s still warm, have a dance party in my living room. Whatever it is, it should be something that’s FUN and doesn’t ask a lot of me.

2. Now that I’m in a slightly better mood…do just one thing. 

The force of feeling overwhelmed is strong; it can literally gobble up entire days (and entire seasons on Netflix) if I let it. But just like it only takes one match to make an explosion, I have also found that it only takes the tiniest of accomplishments to start dismantling the stress bomb from the inside out. This is kind of like Dave Ramsey’s “snow ball” approach, but for a to do list. One little win energizes me to tackle the next thing and that rolls into the next thing and so on.

3. Make a list of everything you need to do. 

Note that this step is listed AFTER the accomplish one little thing step. That’s because I know from experience that listing everything out while you’re still feeling defeated….will just make you feel MORE defeated. You won’t overcome the overwhelm that way.  Accomplish something first. Ride that high. Then sit down and deal with everything else that has to happen. For me, I’m a visual person so I write it all out.  Plus, this gives me the satisfaction of crossing things off.  Look at that list from a bird’s eye view.  Now ask yourself three questions: 1) what are the things that you normally do but don’t actually have to happen, that you can take off the list while you’re getting caught up (kind of like “low battery mode” on your phone…just power the essentials for right now), 2) what can you ask somebody else to help you with? A friend, a freelancer, your husband. Who can help take things off your plate? 3) Now start to prioritize. What are the things that need to be done first?

4. Get One Thing to Zero. 

There is an amazing clarity & energizing feeling that comes from creating order in one area of your life. It tends to spill over in to the next thing and the next. So pick one of your “umbrellas”…maybe it’s your inbox or your laundry basket or the dishes in the sink…and work on that until it’s totally done.  As a mompreneur, the inbox is a constant source of overwhelm.  As a momma of four, the laundry is seemingly endless.  But what would happen if you took this afternoon and got it all the way to zero? Two things: 1) first, it is SO much easier to keep an inbox at zero once you start at zero, so that will be one less overwhelming area of your life.  Same things for the dishes and the laundry.  2) that success will give you the energy and the win to tackle another area….maybe your blogging or your dinner prep for the week.

5. Give Yourself Grace. 

Some days you try all these tricks and you still just aren’t feeling it. On those days, give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can. And you are doing just fine. On those days, that “stress paralyzed” feeling is probably just your body’s way of saying, “hey lady, I need some rest. Take a day off why don’t you.” And on those days, that’s exactly what I do. I eat the ice cream and read books, play make believe with the girls, go on walks, and I kiss my husband.  I don’t feel bad about it or I try not to.  Because the truth is we are all just human.  One of the best things about being human is that tomorrow is new day, a new opportunity to overcome the overwhelm.

So mommas, go rock it out (even if all you’re rocking is a nap!) You can overcome the overwhelm! You got this!

Hugs, Jenn

PS: Does the thought of family portraits overwhelm you? All the decisions: wardrobe, location, people… it’s enough to paralyze you but I promise it doesn’t have to be.  Read this post, it might help!

And this one too on preparing your kiddos for your family session 

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