Do you ever feel there is so much to do that you feel overwhelmed, where do you start?
Your brain goes into hibernation — waiting hopefully for things to become clearer?
Your mind’s a fog and everything is piling up relentlessly.
Paper, paper everywhere — but where is the kid’s school trip leaflet? And where, oh where, is that emergency phone number?
You feel confused and worthless.
Late for picking up your child from school again — people will think you’re a bad mother!
You can’t go on like this — but what can you do?
1.) Organise Your Mind in Your Sleep
A tired brain finds it hard to focus, hard to make decisions and hard to be organised. The essential first step starts during the hours of darkness. This is when your tired brain is revitalised while your sleep.
Far too many people have far too little sleep. We do all differ in how much is enough sleep, but if you are finding it difficult to get up in the morning then you are probably short on sleep.
And not all sleep is the same. The early hours of sleep have the deepest sleep part of our sleep cycle, and this is the most valuable stage of sleep to restore yourself to something like normal. So, if you can get to bed early it will help to clear your mind.
When you have children going to bed early might be the only chance you get to catch up on sleep, and as they get older your nights are less likely to be broken. Then you will be able to stay up later, to spend time with the rest of your family and for yourself.
2.) Dump Your Thoughts on Paper
The quickest way to start decluttering your mind is to put your thoughts on paper, or on one of those little micro-dictation machines. Once the thought is there, your tired brain does not need to remember it. But you just need to check your notes at a particular time of day. And this should become a habit so you don’t forget.
Many busy and successful people carry a small notebook around with them all the time — and this is especially useful to have by your bedside. Have you noticed that it as often when we are just drifting off or waking up that we can set the world to rights? But by the time we’ve had a shower and cleaned our teeth the solutions have nearly always vanished.
3.) Pause for Thought — You Need to Stop
How often do you actually pause for a minute or so during the day? Are there not odd times when your infant is quiet, when you could sit down, perhaps with a coffee, and just pause for thought?
As a mother, these times are rare, but they do exist. And your child will quickly bring you back to the real world, so you are unlikely to waste much time just existing.
If you let your mind drift you can catch a thought and spend a few moments examining it. Is it important? Do you need to take any action? If so — write it down, and if not — forget it.
4.) Take a “Square Breath” or Jiggle
These two different types of breathing can help to clary your mind in different ways.
Square breathing gives you the pause your mind needs, plus a bolus of extra oxygen to revitalise your brain.
This is how you do it:
Breathe in on the count of four
Hold your breath to the count of four
Breathe out to the count of four
Pause for the count of four.
Jiggle breathing — this one if fun and you can jiggle your insistent and repetitive thoughts away.
Take a really deep breath.
Breathe out fairly slowly and as you do make an “ahhhh” sound. At the same time shake your hands and feet vigorously to jiggle it all out.
This one is fun to do in company, and your child will probably like to join in — or have a good laugh at you.
You will need to repeat this a few times to get the benefit
5.) Oxygenate Your Brain the Nice Way
This means exercise! But something you enjoy and preferably something really energetic to shake out your confusing thoughts and oxygenate your brain. There is nothing like a good brisk walk or run in the outdoors to clear your mind, and the fresh air is revitalising. Or you may prefer a swim or do a lively dance. And skipping or jumping jacks only need a few minutes of your time to make your head feel clearer.
If your chosen method is to dance, and this combines the beneficial effects of bright music to hard exercise, then make sure it is fun. Quite often people enjoy the social aspect of a dance class as a regular part of their routines. And if it makes your mind clearer, then it is time well spent.
6.) Sort Out Your Priorities with This Quick Paper Exercise.
Our minds are bombarded with thousands of stimuli every second — and our brains filter out much of the dross. However, it is easy to pay attention to things that really are not important — and as a busy mum, you simply cannot afford the time and energy for that.
This little technique will help you concentrate on what really matters.
Take a pencil and paper and draw a square, divided into four smaller squares. You can see the labels on the diagram below.
Simply put your to-do list into the appropriate squares.
Then, everything that is both urgent and important is what you do first. You also decide how and when to tackle the important but not urgent matters — you might be able to delegate some of these, you can diarise the rest or put them on your calendar.
The other two squares are not important to you — so delete them from your mind and forget them. Don’t let the urgent mark betray you — it is not important! You will be better off paying attention to the things that matter. This simple strategy has saved me hours of time.
7.) Rediscover Perspective and Proportion
When artists discovered perspective and proportion their pictures and paintings became much more realistic. It is the same with life! Sometimes things can seem overwhelming — but if you look closely at them — what is the worst thing that can happen? Usually, it is not so devastating after all.
In fact, playing out this scene in your imagination can, at times, seem quite funny. To think you were worried about this? Count your blessings and you will find that they more than balance out the difficulties and everyday problems which beset us all.
I do not mean to disrespect serious causes for grief, then you will need the space and time to address them, but for the ordinary upsets we all encounter, seeing the funny side and putting it into proportion will help. And most of us tend to exaggerate our trials.
8.) Eat an “Elephant” the Easy Way
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Sounds like common sense — and we can tackle our problems a chunk at a time.
If you have a monumental task to undertake, then break it down into manageable steps, write the steps down and give yourself a time to complete each step. You will find that the huge fuzzy feeling of having too much to do will disappear.
One example is moving house. You might decide to make your house look more sellable — so you work out what needs doing, and then organise the various people to do the work. Then you would see the estate agent who will sell your house — you might need several quotes. Then the sale and the signing. Then organising the actual move. Notifying the inland revenue and other essential people and, of course, the packing — and each small step in the packing process charted until the day of the move when hopefully you will end up with the kettle in your new kitchen. Each stage follows in a logical sequence and each can be ticked off your list as it is completed.
9.) Frame Your Future the NLP Way
This little technique can make a huge difference as to how well you manage to cope with certain tasks. And it is easy to do. All you need is your imagination (which for most of us is much stronger than any logic)!
Imagine a future event you KNOW will take place. Make a picture of it in your mind. (Most of jus can make pictures, but sometimes this can be hard to do and you will need to imagine the sounds or the feelings you experience as well or instead).
Then take note of HOW you are imagining it. Is the picture clear or fuzzy? Are the colours bright or subdued or monochrome? Is your picture framed — and of so what is the frame like? Where is it in relation to your eyes — in front or to the side? Is it a movie or a still? How big is it and how far away?
Then decide on something you want to do but as yet are a bit unsure about. Make a picture of that.
You will notice there are differences.
Now you need to alter the new picture. Make the colours like the first image. The size and distance the same, make the frame just as it was in the picture you were so certain of and all the other factors, too. Make it a movie or a still as before. Just make the new picture look as like the certain picture in your mind as you can, and this will make the new activity clearer and more definite in your own mind.
If you have had to deal with sound, then things like high pitch or low, varied or monotonous, loud or soft and in which direction can be used. And if you use feelings, which take longer to access, feelings of heat and cold, heaviness or lightness, tingling or movement can be taken into consideration — but it is really much easier to do this with a visual image.
Feel Clear-headed and Calm on the Busiest Days
A busy day ahead — here is the plan.
Set the music and start — lucky you have a good playlist set up.
Feeling quite calm today. Deal with the first priority and tick it off the to-do list. That clears one problem you can forget about.
Must set alarm for 3 pm for school run — looking forward to hearing how the other mothers feel about the school trip.
You feel competent and in control. People will think you’re a “good” mother, always on time to pick up your kids from school.
Life is great, taken one step at a time you feel a calm acceptance of who you are. And who you are is human.