I remember the first moment I felt overwhelmed as a mama-I mean first time mama-so a lot can be overwhelming, but my first real moment of feeling guilty for what I felt-it had been 6 weeks of my little one not leaving my arms.
I tried to let others hold her and daddy held her as long as I was right by him, but that was the extent of her away from me. Whenever I put my daughter down or in someones arms, she cried and it was more than a cry it was sheer terror-yes terror from an infant. Cries that did not settle. I am a firm believer in the 4th trimester and the need to be fully connected with our babies, but I craved a long hot shower and I had hit the bottom of overwhelm. This was also a defining moment for me-I knew I was raising a highly sensitive little one, that had higher needs. I would have to find time to to care for myself so I could care for my daughter.
I share in hopes of saving someone from feeling guilty. I share because this is the reason I push to say no to the things we can in order to take time to care for what truly matters. I share because you aren't alone. I share because raising an empathic child adds a whole other layer to the overwhelm. Recognizing when you feel overwhelmed and knowing how to navigate it, will hopefully be the hand you need.
Signs you are overwhelmed.
1. You lose interest in everything
The things that used to bring you joy, make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. You slowly start to push everything aside and you make excuses for why you have no time for the things you love. While this can be justified, there is a fine line. Just be aware of how you feel. Take note of thoughts you have when someone shares something you used to love doing.
2. You are easily triggered
This can present itself in many ways. It may be anger, stress, sadness, tension in your body (be aware of where you feel things). What used to be no big deal to you , suddenly is a trigger.
3. You cringe when someone hugs you (or touches you)
Have you heard of being touched out? If you are a mama or raising an empath, there has most likely been a moment in your life when you have felt touched out. You are needed 24/7 and your body is overstimulated. Navigating this can feel next to impossible when you are all your child wants.
4. You detach from the present
Have you ever felt yourself waiting for someone to rescue you? Counting down the moments before your partner is home? Have you escaped to "finish work" when you really end up scrolling social media or...When we are overwhelmed it is hard to be present, so you hide from it, the moment you can.
5. You crave alone time
This was a tricky one for me to navigate and as you may already know we all vary on how much alone time we need to recharge. I struggled with this one though because I loved being with my daughter, I craved being with her and enjoyed it, but I also cried to myself because I worried about my daughter never leaving my side. I wondered if she would ever trust anyone else. I wondered if I would ever take another hot shower...I really don't require a lot of time away from my daughter, but a solid walk alone, does this mama wonders. It is my decompressing time. My time to release all the energy I have absorbed during the day. While you may need very little alone time-We all benefit from it, even if it is a few minutes.
So how do you move out of overwhelm:
I will start by saying this-you have to recognize the above before you can be honest with yourself and your family. When you admit to being overwhelmed you are not weak, you are human and you are every other mother at one point in their journey.
Allow others to step in. I will be honest, I could not have done this when my daughter was little, but looking back I definitely should have taken a few minutes each day after she was a couple months old. Again this is the timing that would have worked for me. You may require more or less. Find what brings you back to yourself. One of the ways I navigated alone time was to go to sleep as early as possible (my daughter nursed to sleep and woke many times at night, but early to bed helped me a ton) and letting my husband step in to do the household chores and so on. Going to bed early gave me the opportunity to rise early and drink some tea or shower quickly. Now let me say this-My daughter woke as soon as I left the room until she was about 3 years 5 months old. She could be sound asleep and as soon as I got too far-wide awake. So, for several years I read Kindle books next to my daughter and my husband would bring me tea in bed. It was exactly what I needed to feel recharged.
Remember to find the moments and make time to charge your batteries, even if you are laying right next to your sleeping child. AND lean on your partner! We weren't meant to parent alone.
Another huge shift for me, I became aware of my body and responses to certain things and found ways to navigate my overwhelm. For me, making sure to stop and breathe is huge. I also say no to a full schedule and as I emailed the other day-I SAY NO to SAY YES. You can be a do it all overwhelmed mama that leaves behind memories of anger and frustration because you were only able to hold it together for so long or you can do less and do it joyfully! Nope-this is not to shame anyone, we are all human and make mistakes and have our moments. I share this so you take time to reflect.
And above all else seek outside help if you feel depressed or can't navigate the overwhelm by yourself. There is no shame in this! Our bodies go through so much and sometimes our hormones don't adjust or balance as they should.
As always, I'm here to listen.
Are you following me @raisingempathywithme? If you're raising an empath/highly sensitive child-I created a private account to connect. I would love to have you join me there.
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Coming soon-group coaching! A place to connect, share and see that you're not alone! Have a wonderful day-Joey