What to do when you feel overwhelmed and stressed

In the past week, I have been feeling so overwhelmed with what is going in my life right now that I haven’t been present when I’m with my children. As I was breastfeeding my son to sleep at 7pm at night, my mind was racing when I should have been just enjoying the quiet peaceful moment of the two of us as he drifted off to sleep.

When I was pregnant with my second son approaching his due date, I was still working on the phone and attending the meeting with clients whilst wrangling a 2-year-old toddler. People would question when I was going on maternity leave and I would say I was going to work right until I popped. I had always been a good multi-tasker. I thrive best working under pressure. With my firstborn I figured since I was able to study, work, start a new business and raise a breastfeeding baby without the need to pump, I could do pretty much anything. There lies my biggest problem. The illusion that just because I could do everything, doesn’t mean I should do everything.

So leading up to the birth of my second son, I was doing just that, everything. Little did I know I had internalised a lot of my frustrations and anger, it would then erupt out of nowhere mostly directed at my husband, who was apparently supposed to be able to read my mind all the time! It was then my midwife gently said that sometimes the baby doesn’t come until the mother is ready. Here I was just doing my thang until the baby came. At no point did I consider maybe the baby is waiting for me. I know of other mums who took at least a week off, even up to a month to get into the nesting spirit and although that sounded wonderful, in reality, I think I’d rearranged the furniture a trillion times before the day was up.

Often when we are excellent masters of time, we often assume that we have everything handled even when we don’t. I had been terribly moody, getting very cranky at hubby for not seeing the obvious such as washing the dirty dishes. At the time, I had the hugest belly, so I was finding extremely difficult to lean over and wash the dishes but again, I never explicitly told him to help me even though he does our laundry and everything else, I just assumed he’d know about the dishes.

So what did I do?

I set my last day of work that Friday and took a big breath and wrote down a list of all the things that were floating in my head. Now you’re probably thinking, oh Merly a “To Do” list? Well not exactly. What you want to do is take away the mental load that is taking too much space and causing stress and anxiety because it’s just getting too heavy.

The thing with each item you write down, some might be something as simple as setting up your out of office email response, bulk cooking for the week or buying more bin bags to bigger stuff like paying the overdue mortgage repayments, getting the carpets cleaned before baby arriving or booking flights for Christmas. Regardless, how trivial or major the items are, they all weigh the same when their floating in your mind, hence the mental load can be overwhelming and stressful.

Writing a list is a great way to just dump the junk on paper so that you don’t have the pressure of having to remember. Even remembering the points is a mental load in itself! For me having a hubby who can’t read my mind, during our in-home date night over a cup of tea while our son was asleep, I’d run through the mental load list and delegate tasks that he was happy to do. It was wonderful because he had no idea that I had a trillion things on my mind and as a soon to be dad-of-2, he felt useful that he could do something to ease the pressure.

The following Wednesday, I gave birth to baby Axel.

Coming back to now, I realised as my baby boy started to snore, I did a commando crawl off the bed and went downstairs to write down my list.

When we feel overwhelmed and stress, this has a direct impact not only on hormones but also our immune system. With what is currently happening around the world, with many of us couped up at home, we need to do as much as we can to keep our immune system strong and healthy.

For more tips to start balancing your hormones, you can download my free 7 Day Hormone Cleanse here.

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