Never before have we lived such comfortable and affluent lives. Australia has the third highest average wealth in the world, behind Switzerland and Norway. We make up 0.36% of the world’s adult population but account for 3.78% of the world’s top 1% of wealthiest people. (source)
But this comes at a cost, on many levels. The African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ still remains, yet the village has gone. Everyone is out working, or taking their kids to gymnastics, swimming, athletics, scouts, karate, football, cricket. Or volunteering in the class room, on the sports pitch or up at the school. Or preparing for dinner guests, kids parties family get togethers…it never ends.
There’s no doubt we have very full lives. Often too full. So full, in fact that many of us feel that our day to day lives have become an avalanche of events and we are like a pack of hounds chasing our tails in a frenzy of FOMO confusion. (FOMO, for those who don’t know, is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out).
So in one sense it’s lovely to have such full lives and be included in other peoples lives, but the downside is that sense of overwhelm that comes with having too much to do. On talking about overwhelm, my friend Jen said this: “I have found when something has to give its my own stuff – the gym visit, the catch up with a friend, a decent lunch instead of a Vegemite sambo on the fly, ironically the kind of fortifying stuff that should take priority at times.”
The sad and scary thing is that feeling of overwhelm has become almost the norm. I contacted several women in my circle of friends and family to get their take on how to cope with that feeling and what was interesting was not one of them said they didn’t feel overwhelmed. Whilst being overwhelmed is not a permanent state of being, and we all feel it to varying degrees, we have all come to accept and expect that it is a part of modern life.
So until we work out how to tone down the crazy, I’ve put together some strategies, which come directly from women who are in the same boat as you. These strategies are tried and tested by my lovely friends and family so there will be something in there for you to try that will definitely be a salve to the whirlwind.
1. Exercise. This was the most frequently mentioned strategy for keeping a lid on the craziness. If you’re like me (i.e. not that way inclined) – damn it, haul your ass off the couch and get to it. Dina said “Keep exercising, don’t ever give this up as it is often the only real thing we do for ourselves”. This really resonated with me, because she’s right. While inadvertently other people benefit from you keeping fit and healthy, you are the ultimate winner. To go for a run or a walk also means some ‘escape time’ – time alone to clear your head, ruminate on that problem your working out or just enjoy some fresh air and a moment away from the noise.
2. Meditating. I’ve written about the benefits of meditating before and, like me, many people struggle with it. But I know the benefits outweigh the struggle. It can take whatever form works for you, it can be as simple as breathing deeply and counting to 20 – this will give you a quick dose of calm. If you want to read more about the medical benefits of meditation, you can check out this article on My Organic Hunter.
3. Venting. There is nothing like a good purge to free your soul from trouble. Often we don’t want solutions, we just want to be heard. Choose your friend who loves you the most, and give her an ear bashing. It will almost certainly make you feel better. She won’t try to fix it and she won’t judge you. Sometimes just sharing your worries can help lighten the load. But be sure to return the favour when she needs it.
4. Make a list. Who doesn’t love a list? And the most smug feeling ever is when you start ticking those things off your list like a crazed productivity guru! Ok, so that’s going a bit far, but I can vouch for a list. It’s a go-to for me. Andrea said “if it’s down on paper I can manage, and the worst feeling of being out of control because of too many balls in the air is my worry… that I’m going to forget somewhere the kids have to be or a thing they need to take for school”. A list will keep all those little pesky jobs in one place.
5. Just do it! Take a practical approach and ask for help to spend time working on what ever it is that has you feeling overwhelmed. Or if that’s not an option, spend some extra time in the evening to knock a few jobs over – that’s two less things on your to-do list now, and one less night lost on the tragic Bachelor.
6. Tidy Up. The calming effect of a clear space can not be underestimated – the mess will stress you out anyway, so spend 10 minutes tidying up – or if you’re really pushed, just make your bed and hang up your coat/put away your shoes/clear some dishes. Jenny says: “I know life is too short to be worried about a tidy house, but I just operate better when the place isn’t like the scene of a crime. This does not mean I have a tidy house, it’s something I’m working on.”
7. Practice gratitude. It’s becoming a cliche, I know. But only because it works. If you’re feeling a bit pissed off with the world because your cup is overflowing, celebrate that fact. Yes, it’s draining to be running from one place to the next with no end in sight. But hey, your dance card is full and that’s got to be cool. Imagine having no place to go.
8. Get up early. Spend this bonus time as you like, but primarily make it for yourself. Go for a run, have a cup of tea, write, or just sit quietly before the day kicks off. Even half an hour early makes a difference.
9. Find your thing that works for you. A walk on the beach is my mental health miracle cure. It means instant transformation for me. My friend Dina has a jigsaw puzzle that is set up for the whole family to have a go at when they feel like it. My sister Gabrielle puts on opera music, really loud, and just sits in the moment. What ever works for you, commit to doing that. It will help.
10. Get some perspective. Geraldine said “The only person expecting you to be amazing is yourself”. This made a lot of sense to me. Cut yourself some slack. And as Andrea said “At the end of the day I remind myself that I”m not a brain surgeon so if I don’t get something finished or it’s a bit of a shambles at the end of the day no one is going to die because of it. There’s bigger things going on in the world than the busy lives of a family of five.”
If all else fails, see below. Or try some wine.
Do you have something that soothes your soul when the noise of the world hurts your ears? Please share.