Feeling Stressed & Overwhelmed? We Hear You! Our Contributor Sharmistha Has A Few Helpful Tips For Restoring Balance
Sometime ago, out of curiosity, I attended a workshop on ‘Bullet journalling’. What stood out for me more than bullet journalling is what I noticed about the participants (all women) as they spoke about their motivation for attending this workshop.
I was struck by something I found woman after woman repeating- ‘I used to be so much better organised before, but am no longer so now’. All motivational talks and self-help books talk about not comparing one self with others, and that is a message that these women seem to have internalised. They were not comparing themselves to their neighbours or friends. But they were comparing themselves to their own younger versions and coming out badly.
The second theme that was recurring was how overwhelmed women felt keeping track of the various schedules and extra curricular activities of multiple kids. I’ve heard of this being called ‘the mental load’. These moms were carrying more than their fair share of household chores and child minding, not necessarily because the dads or kids were unwilling to chip in, but because the moms did not believe in their capacity to be truly useful.
The third thing that stood out for me was how eagerly they were looking for solutions– such as the bullet journalling technique that they were there to learn. They were impressed by the structure the technique represented and were eagerly looking for ways to track their performance on various parameters (such as- did I exercise every day?, did I drink enough water?)
Since this is the beginning of the new year and a time for making positive changes, I wanted to share my thoughts on all three of the above themes in a non-judgemental way, hoping that it will be helpful.
The first theme, comparing yourself to your younger version: This is not a fair comparison. As we used to say in B-school, don’t compare apples with oranges. Certainly your output was different when you were younger because your life situation was different. Instead of berating yourself for being disorganised, give yourself credit for how much you get done now and how well. The fact that your household is functioning, kids and husband are alive and have gone to school and office testifies to your competence. Well done. Give yourself a pat on the back.
The second theme, the mental load: If you believe it is your responsibility to do everything and to remind everyone else to do their things, you need to shed some of that mental load. Don’t be Atlas. Don’t carry the world on your shoulders. Shrug. You may not have much confidence in your husband’s ability to do things. Let him do them anyway. He will learn with time. Ditto for kids. If husband or kids forget their tasks, tough luck. They will make their own systems for remembering them next time. It shouldn’t be a part of your to-do list to remind them. Only when you shed the load that belongs to others, will you feel lighter. If you can get help, whether from inside or outside your family, please do. It will give you some me-time which will help rejuvenate you. Hire a nanny or cook or driver if you can afford it, if you can’t, then at least ask your husband and kids to take their fair share of responsibility.
The third theme- investing in complex solutions to help you manage your workload. It’s great that you’re doing something to better your situation. Just be sure that the solution you choose does not add to your workload and give you more stress. Too frequent tracking on a large set of indicators may be counter productive. If it seems that way, chuck it and devise a solution which works for you.
Take time out to breathe, smile and put on some make up. Or whatever else you like to do.
Believe me, you’re doing a fantastic job and you’re totally worth it!