It's so easy to slip into a feeling of overwhelm when you're a parent. Overwhelm is a "sticky" place; when we are overwhelmed we get paralyzed and we can't move forward with the beautiful visions we have for our children's health.
I'd say 98% of the parents who come seek my help with nutrition and feeding struggles are feeling stressed by their kids and that stress has brought them to a place of overwhelm. So we typically spend quite a bit of time shifting them out of that paralysis and helping them recognize that they actually can have some degree of control over their own stress and overwhelm. Once they learn to control it, their kids reflect that back to them in the most remarkable ways.
Stress is a physiological response that is triggered by our perception of a situation. Two people can go through the exact same experience, and in one of them a stress response is triggered (heart pounding, face flushing, mind swirling) while the other stays calm and centred.
Why is that? It's because their perception of the situation is different (their health status is likely different too... certain nutrient deficiencies can lie at the root of a hair trigger stress response, but that's another topic for another time).
"But", says the stressed out parent, "there are just too many things! There are lunches to pack and laundry to do, and birthday parties, and sports practices, and then there is the IEP to keep up with and the meltdowns and the sibling fighting, oh and did I mention my child only sleeps for 4 hours?!" On and on it goes... "they tell me to make time for myself but there IS no time... and I am exhausted!".
Yes... there are lots of potential triggers in there that can turn that stress response "on". But still, the path away from stress, panic and overwhelm and towards calm, cool, collected and confident even if you have to do all those things, has everything to do with our mindset and our own health.
Getting out of overwhelm requires some conscious effort and energy. Believe it or not, that state of overwhelm can actually be addictive. Yup. You might be unconsciously keeping yourself on that treadmill because you're so used to the feeling of stress hormones! (crazy to think, I know... but I've been there... overwhelm can be a habit that's tough to break).
Ok... I'm all about strategy, so let's talk practical strategies for getting out of overwhelm. I outline them in the video above - the ways I personally dissolve overwhelm and invite more ease into my life.
NOW... once I've done all that, the last thing I do is to focus in on the to-do list.
This is usually the first thing we focus on, right? All Those Things To Do! No... only do this once you have reigned in your energy and reclaimed it from all the corners you've been spreading it to. Your energy is yours to give, not for others to take without permission. Reign it back in first using all the techniques above, then pick one or two things that are right in front of you to do. Take action. Don't worry about the big picture. Big picture days are going to come, but some days are just about small do-able steps; one foot in front of the other.
Overwhelm is going to come and go in your life as a parent. But once you have strategy in place to recognize it and climb out of it, you will see that the first step to moving your family's health forward starts with controlling your own stress and overwhelm.
Jess is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist™ and Family Health Expert, specializing in brain health & resilience for kids. She is the author of Raising Resilience: Take the stress out of feeding your family & love your life, a mother and an advocate for children’s health. Her book and online resources have helped families all over the world improve the lives of their children with learning differences, anxiety, ADHD, autism and mood disorders by fitting the food and feeding piece into their health puzzles. She is the 2019 recipient of the CSNNAA award for Clinical Excellence for her work helping families get healthier, and she continues to work at bringing an understanding of the power of good nutrition to the mainstream conversation about children’s mental health, learning, and overall resilience through her blog, courses and as a contributor to print and online magazines. You can reach Jess at www.jesssherman.com
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