May 25, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Calming Your Inner Overachiever

 I want to start by saying: THANK YOU. Last week's launch for Motherhood at a Glance went so well and all the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. I am so grateful that so many of you have already been touched and inspired. Today, I decided to share something that has been on my heart for a few weeks now. I hope you feel understood and capable after you read this week's Motherhood at a Glance! 

Next week we will be having another feature writer, as promised and I am so excited for you all to read what she has prepare for you. But for now, here is my advice on how to calm your inner-overachiever.

Photo by To Bloom + Wander

I was a senior in high school when I experienced one of the first anxiety attacks that I can remember.  I had come home exhausted from a long week of tests, show choir practice, projects, theatre rehearsal, and performances. I was overworking myself, stretched thin and just plain-old-exhausted. At that point I didn't know how to identify what I was experiencing. Eight years ago, anxiety wasn't spoken about the same way it is now. All I knew was that if I continued to function this way, I would eventually crumble. In the same breath, I knew that if my plate was unloaded even just a little, emptiness and depression would take its place. And so, I entered the cycle of battling my inner overachiever.

Overachiever, perfectionist, go-getter - whatever you may call it, I believe most of us (especially mamas) identify with these characteristics. Now, hear me out! When I say "overachiever," I don't mean that person who does things for praise or recognition. Overworking themselves simply for the sake of it. I'm talking about that inner voice saying that you are not good enough. You become convinced that the way to be "good enough" is by doing more. Stretching yourself so thin that the inner voice is muffled. You feel better about it for a few days, clearing that never-ending to-do list (even the ones that you already completed, but wrote in just to check off). Then, like clock-work, you begin to hear that voice again. Only this time, she's convinced you that you can't do anything. You're too overwhelmed, so you might as well quit. No use in doing anything if you can't hold it all together! Have you heard that voice? I have. 

Photo by To Bloom + Wander

I've fallen into this cycle yet again as of late. My husband went out of town for work, leaving me to take care of our two girls, a two-and-a-half-year-old and 11-month-old, while building my new small business, running my blog, trying to serve others, and keeping myself and our home [mostly] clean. I finally broke down, after two full weeks of keeping it together so he wouldn't worry too much. Another thing added to my plate, subconsciously. The stress naturally took over and affected my patience with my kids and myself. Hanging on by a thread, the tiniest thing can send you down a spiral of self-doubt and despair.

I'm here to reassure you that it is possible to calm your inner overachiever without losing yourself completely. As you may have already gathered, I've struggled with this for the better part of my life. I'm living with it and battling against it daily, but have learned a few ways to calm that part of you that wants to do it all. I feel that this is so important and pertinent to motherhood. As you learn to calm that inner overachiever in you, I promise you will feel more capable as a mother, a partner, a friend and more adequate in your abilities. It is amazing the difference I feel when I become more mindful of my schedule, mental or physical. 

Before I lose you, let me remind you first that you are enough. You can do it all, in your own way. Let's just figure out a healthy way, together!
Photo by To Bloom + Wander

Recently during a broadcast for our church, a speaker, Joy D. Jones, said, "Women wear many hats but it is impossible and unnecessary to wear them all at once." If you take just one thing away from reading my blog, I hope it is the powerful simplicity found in that sentence. To calm your inner overachiever, we must decide what is most important to us and break it down daily. I have recently started my day by thinking about all the things I hope to get done. Creating a mini-mental to-do list. Then, I take a moment to determine what I want to focus on that day. 

I ask myself, "What is most important or even necessary that I get done today?" I center my attention and free-time on that one thing and put other things aside, for now. I have found that as I do this, I  have more flexibility in my day. Feelings of anxiousness are settled because my load is lighter. 

Let's say you have felt that you haven't been spending as much quality time with your children as you'd like to. Maybe life has piled up, you've gotten busy, and during the time you have spent with them, your mind has been elsewhere. Determine a day that you can have quality time as your focus and decide how you're going to do that. Maybe it means planning a fun morning together and playing 20-questions. Maybe it means putting your phone in "timeout" if you're easily distracted. However it may look for you, choose a day to focus on it. Doing this often and adjusting your mindset, whether it is on a mental or physical task, will encourage your inner overachiever to calm and focus on one task at a time. 

We've all heard this advice at least once in our lives, especially those of us who struggle with people pleasing! It is hard to say "no" - at first. Inevitably it will leave you feeling a little guilty and unsure but with time and practice, you will learn to advocate for your needs and recognize when you need to pull back. I've learned that saying "no" can oftentimes go beyond having a full schedule on paper. Meaning your mental load can be just as heavy or full as your physical to-do list.

Think of a time you committed to something just to cancel at the last minute. We’ve all done it, so no shame! Often, society - or even people in our lives - convince us that this is wrong. I’m not encouraging you to cancel a necessary appointment just because you’d rather be on your couch eating ice cream (even though I feel that!). I’m simply suggesting that sometimes it’s appropriate to say no, even if that means you’re doing it last minute. You should never, ever feel bad about nurturing your mental health. 

Nothing that I’ve shared today is going to come naturally to you and that is okay. It may take some hard conversations with yourself to truly determine what areas of your life leave you feeling anxious or overwhelmed. There will be times you fail, because becoming more mindful of your needs is a process. What’s crucial is that you give yourself grace in that moment. Talk to yourself like you would your sister, your mother, or your friend. Pick yourself back up, eat some chocolate, and try again. You are capable of “doing it all” without doing it all in one day, a week, or even a year. As you learn to calm your inner overachiever, you will feel more strength in your abilities and relationships. You’ve got this, mama! 

Photo by To Bloom + Wander

I want to reiterate that you are capable. What that looks like for you is unique, so remember to avoid comparing your victories or downfalls, to others. You are valuable and your mental health is vital for you to be the best person and mom you can be. You are wonderful, needed and important. I am here, cheering you on!

I hope you’ve found something that resonates with you from this quick read today! As a recap, here are the three ways you can calm your inner-overachiever:

Determine your focus every day and break it down to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Learn to say no in order to nurture and for advocate your own needs.

Offer yourself grace, just as you would a friend.


Kim N said...

This is so relatable. Most moms, including myself, struggle with this! Thank you for sharing!

Sasha Heindel said...

Thanks so much for the reminder to give myself grace while life is so crazy!