On being closed to help while exhausted:
Last week I shared the following:
“This morning an article landed in my inbox talking about motherhood and burnout, and how this percentage has only gone up since the pandemic began.
Understandable many moms are stressed and burned out. I sympathized with the writer writing the article, having seen many others bravely share their experiences and feelings over the past few months.
But one thing stood out that didn’t sit comfortably with me. At the end of the article the writer wrapped up by turning down all offers of help – e.g. meditation, book recommendations, free virtual therapy, saying she will make room for this when there is more room in her life.
The problem is, something new is always going to come up and demand our attention.
While we agree that it is hard to make room for anything when you’re an overwhelmed, burnt out mom, this is a trend I’ve seen in a few articles and posts that don’t seem very helpful. We truly believe that if you are struggling, it is worth making the effort to seek, ask for, and accept help so you can find some relief and protect your mental health.
Yes, even if it means letting something else go. It is okay to do that, and let the mom guilt go as well. You are no less valuable for letting something go to prioritize your mental health.
As always, if you have been struggling for 2+ weeks, and burnout and overwhelm are affecting your emotional wellbeing, we recommend talking with your healthcare provider. Perhaps you may also find our mental health resources pages helpful (there is one with pandemic resources).
Taking care of yourself is worth it, because YOU are worth it.
Why is this important?
‘94% of UK women have felt the benefits of taking time out to look after their wellbeing and recognise that around 50 minutes a day would be ideal. But the majority of women are only spending an average of 17 minutes a day on themselves.’ – Dr. Julie Smith.
We get it.
Depression + the demands of motherhood can be overwhelming.
The little things feel hard. We understand not wanting to add one more thing, follow one more ‘promise’ to make your life better.
We’ve been there.
We get that it’s hard.
Do you believe that?
Taking those first steps to be brave in asking for help AND proactively making space for the things that can help you move forward are investments back into yourself. Whether it’s a tiny step of self-care like getting out of bed and taking a shower in the morning or trying out therapy.
The thing is, if you want more help, you need to be brave and do something about it.
An Unhealthy Trend?
I noticed a trend on social media over the past year. This trend was one where many moms voiced their struggles and frustrations (a good thing) but then refused help and then/or talked about how other people did not offer to help.
Expressing how we feel can be is a healthy way to form community, to let others know they are not alone in feeling the same thing and finding support. However, I found this troubling when it expanded beyond venting on personal social media threads to larger, more reputable accounts and reputable mommy magazine blogs.
Here are two reasons why:
- Even during non-pandemic times, a village may not know to form around moms offering the support they want if they don’t know that is what the mom needs (or that there is an expectation to help). People are not mind readers.
- Verbalizing and being vulnerable online is a great way to build comraderie with other moms, but:
- Can be less supportive when it is at the expense of real relationships
- Online connections may be more surface level and not have the lasting effects of real support (unless both parties invest in getting to know each other better online).
- If this isn’t followed up with an action to make a change for the better, then it can be easy to feel stuck and depressed for a longer period of time.
- Talk to a professional – or if budget is a concern, try free services where volunteers offer to listen (such as Buddy Help and 7Cups). It may be worth keeping in mind too that those we expect to be our village may not be equipped to help in the ways you need.Hard as this may be, they are also not obligated. Whether this is Grandma, a best friend, or a neighbour. If that’s the case, try to be gentle with yourself and gently let go of those expectations and reach out to a professional instead. Professionals are trained to help you navigate these challenging emotional situations and find solutions that work.
- Be brave and tell your ‘safe’ people how you feel.
“If we don’t tell people how we feel, how will they know?” – Quote seen on @secondsapart, inspired by @aolanow
Challenge for You
Our challenge to you is to take control of your own emotional response by taking charge of your own reactions.
We understand this can be really hard, especially if you are coping with no sleep and depression. But can you take a single small step?
Here’s a doable single small step: Next time you feel down and want to push away all solutions, pause and consider if you want to make a change. Even this small action of decision making can help you take back control of your own responses.
Read about how to create new thought patterns to prevent prenatal anxiety.
Removing the Guilt
Let’s remove the guilt in caring for ourselves and stop glorifying the busy and overwhelm, so moms who try to seek self-care aren’t shamed into hiding it.
While we in no way deny the challenges of stress and overwhelm, we care very deeply about the effects of long-term anxiety and depression. Ignoring these red flags until you have ‘more time’ usually hurts more than helps.
How do you feel? If you are struggling to identify exactly how you feel, here is a helpful feelings wheel by Anti-Anxiety Therapy Notebooks that might help. Taking the time to pause and be aware of what you’re feeling and why is the first step to self-care. Image used with permission.
You can do this!! We really believe you can. Now it’s time to make small changes to start believing in yourself.
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