Many of the parents I speak to, give themselves a hard time for feeling overwhelmed.
Overwhelm is simply feedback from the body that there is too much going on.
It’s often fuelled by a murky concoction of exhaustion, guilt from the past and worry about the future, lumped on top of real time demands.
E.g. How many of you can relate to thinking one or more of these;
“I don’t have the energy for this”
“I never get this right”
“What if this never gets better?”
“If I can’t stop this my child will never be able to………….”
“If I can’t stop this I’ll never be able to……………”
These narratives ramp up the stress response as our body tries to deliver enough fuel to manage the extra demands that guilt and worry add on top of the present moment.
It’s a big load and often sends our minds and bodies into an exhausting spin.
Tuning out of the past/future and tuning in to what is real in the present moment.
Yes, it’s easier said than done.
Our minds have a happy knack of pressing repeat on the past/future loops.
Especially when we are tired.
Grounding in the present moment can get easier with practice and support to tune in to what works for you.
Now, many of you know that I love Qigong for cultivating grounded presence – however it might not always be appropriate to bust into ‘Rhinoceros gazes at the moon’ mid crisis (if you’re curious check this clip
So, here’s a simple formula that you can use anywhere, anytime for grounding in the heat of the moment:
- Meet yourself where you’re at by naming what is happening
- Find an anchor outside the mind
- Name your present moment intention
1. My son is having a meltdown and I feel overwhelmed
2. I can feel my feet connected to the ground
3. Right now, I intend to hold a safe space
These aren’t the only ways to nip overwhelm in the bud, and it can take some time to find a formula that works for you.
Adding strategies to soothe and nourish the nervous system is also great for taking the edge off the stress response (if you’re not sure what this means, taking a big sighing breath or a long exhale is a great place to start).
The bigger picture reality however, is that staying out of overwhelm, also depends on whether your regulation and support needs are being met during the ‘ordinary’ moments and having enough time and space to renew and recharge – no easy feat for busy families navigating high demands!
It’s worth persevering and seeking support for though, because even small shifts can have a big impact. As one of the Mums in my coaching program told me:
“Changing the language I use has had momentous flow on effects. I feel more energised, compassionate and content”.
And if you’re a Mum, raising children with additional needs and thinking, ‘that sounds great but I don’t even know where to start….’ – no worries, I’ve got you covered! I’ve got a free online training series starting next week that will more than get you on your way. For more information and to register for the free training click here
Rachel Stefaniak is an AHPRA registered Occupational Therapist with a fire in her belly about the rights of families raising children with disabilities. She is committed to connecting parents with simple, practical strategies that they can weave into their ‘everyday’ in a way that respects their demands and aligns with their values, so that they can find relief from exhaustion, stress or overwhelm, have more ease and confidently support their family to thrive.