Being Productive, Growth, Managing Anxiety & Overwhelm

Goodbye Hot Mess Mama

For years, I feel like I wore the Hot Mess Mama persona very well … I was ALWAYS overwhelmed … ALWAYS anxious … ALWAYS in a tizzy about something … 

I constantly felt like I wasn’t enough … like I wasn’t doing enough …

There’s tons of evidence of this along my journey (and in my writing) …

There’s also tons of evidence of my many, many attempts to combat these terrible feelings of overwhelm … 

My first obsession was surely minimalism … I devoured the topic and learned and did everything I could to minimize our possessions … I’m grateful for this “step” along the way as I am still committed to regular purging and decluttering … having less to care for DOES impact our day-to-day life, but I have also come to accept that even the basics in a family of five adds up to a lot of stuff. I definitely declutter seasonally, but I also aim to target a specific job or area on a more regular basis … 

After minimalism, some of my next attempts to combat my incessant feelings of overwhelm and anxiety included becoming a better steward of my time. This meant creating a general framework for our days and our weeks … I outlined who was doing what and when and attempted to schedule in the things that were most important … of course, this is always fluid and ever-changing … schedules need to be revamped and altered again and again along the way … amidst all of this would definitely be the essential building of habits and routines as well … this has been a “slow-learn” it seems, as it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve really seen the value of checklists and “automating” … instead of believing I didn’t have time to sit down and make a plan or that checklists were too binding, I’ve come to believe wholeheartedly in the power of automating … it gets the things we have to do over and over again OUT of our head (where worry and anxiety fester and build) … we don’t HAVE to worry or feel anxious … instead, we can just execute a plan (or check off items on a list) … 

A powerful next step on my journey? Really SEEING who I am and how I am wired at the core … my study of the Enneagram affirmed that I am a Type One. Type Ones are Perfectionists with a harsh inner critic. My incessant desire to have everything perfect … the house, the kids, the yard, my work, my marriage … was making me into that Hot Mess Mama I’d come to loathe … the constant striving for perfection induced intense feelings of anxiety and overwhelm … no surprise there, because perfection is IMPOSSIBLE! As I came to recognize that I was striving for the impossible, I tried being satisfied with 80 to 90% … I tried being satisfied with “not perfect, but better.” I also hired help … an errand-runner and a housekeeper … after all, there’s only so much of me to go around … and even to get to 80 or 90%, I still need help sometimes … 

Seeing and recognizing my desire for perfection isn’t all bad, of course … having a high standard for myself and for those around me has served me and my family well I think … in the past though, I think I believed I needed the stress or anxiety in order to be productive … but (I’ve come to learn) that simply isn’t true … in fact, I’ve come to realize that being anxious or feeling overwhelmed DIDN’T CHANGE THE OUTCOME, it just ruined the journey …

Getting the kids out the door in the morning? I did it EVERY SINGLE DAY and DAY-AFTER-DAY-AFTER-DAY … but I did it overwhelmed and anxious … and this “leaks out” in so many unpleasant ways … harsh words perhaps … maybe some yelling … limited patience … and the like … this was NOT the mother I wanted to be for my children. 

So I had to start believing that things would work out (and just take THE NEXT STEP) … after all, I had tons of evidence that they would.

Each week, I accomplished everything I needed to accomplish for work.

Each week, I got kids to their practices on time (with the supplies they needed). 

Each day, I got the kids out the door for school.

Each day, we did what we needed to homeschooling-wise. 

Each day, we had good snacks and meals on the table. 

Day after day after day I DID accomplish and do what needed to get done … I really needed to start believing in me … 

This, combined with a simple choice (yes, it’s a choice) … to just STOP feeling so anxious about everything … has made a world of difference for me in combatting these HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE feelings of overwhelm … these feelings that rob me from the motherhood I desire … these feelings that rob my children of the kind, supportive, and loving mother I want for them … 

I didn’t want to be the Hot Mess Mama anymore … I didn’t like that persona anymore … 

Of course, I couldn’t just STOP on my own … and this is where the last piece of the anxiety / overwhelm puzzle fits in … 

I needed to start a regular mindfulness practice … sure, I had heard about this along the way, but who had time for that? Sitting and doing nothing and just being present? I already had SO MUCH to do … 

But, finally, this fall, after attending a Mindfulness and Tapping PD session that our school division hosted and discovering the Release app, I have a powerful and effective tool right at my fingertips to assist me with this practice each day … I have tips and tricks handy for those moments when things get to be just a little too much … like just taking a few deep breaths … or fixing my eyes on what (and who) is right in front of me in THIS moment instead of being consumed by past thoughts or future “what-if” thinking … 

And tapping? It “diffuses” the emotions … it “releases” them … it gives them a place to go … it eliminates the “foothold” these emotions can have … and this isn’t just in my head, there’s actually a science behind it … stimulating certain points on your body actually sends a signal to your brain that it is safe to calm down … cortisol, the stress hormone, STOPS being released into the body and we can begin to relax … (Trina Markusson, “What is Tapping?” on the Release App). I’m so grateful to have tapping in my toolbox. 

And here we are … “here” … 

It’s been a bit of a long road to get here … I started my minimalism journey five or six years ago … I became obsessed with being a good steward of time a couple of years ago … I started learning about the Enneagram earlier this year … and Mindfulness and Tapping? It’s only been a few short months …

A couple of days ago, I caught myself asking … when did you become so chill about everything? 

That’s a breakthrough … 

I think it’s time to stop and savour “the road to here” and where “here” is … because “here” is a pretty sweet spot.

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