For years, I tried to push back negative thoughts, but ultimately, it was a bit like blowing away a wildfire–it only fed the flames. After I became a mother, it was as if I were surrounded by fire, and I was on the verge of overwhelm. Albeit, it wasn’t just one type of overwhelmit was a firestorm of four pillars I found myself trapped behind.  

I needed to do something about it–quickly. 

I decided to life-coach myself out of the corner and put myself into action. Similar to physics, I’ve found emotions have an equal and opposite action. Below are the four types of overwhelm I was being crushed by, as well as some simple actions I put into place to find my way back to a place of peace. 

Worry 

The first emotion I met was worry. This was exacerbated by a word of caution I received from my chiropractor, “Oh, you’re having a boy, that means if you mess him up, women everywhere will blame you.”  

I remember chuckling with nervous laughter. Up until that point, I hadn’t realized messing up was an option, but sure enough, worry-related thoughts started to take root. I’m a praying momma, but I remember my prayers starting to sound worry-fueled. At one point, it just became too much. 

RELATED: A Mother’s Mind Never Rests, Because We Carry The Mental Load

I sat and began to write–scribbling at first and then streams of thank you for . . . just started to pour out. The physical action of writing gratitude meant I was experiencing those blessings for a second time. Each thank you seemed to line up like an army, prepared to fight worry. And once the army was in place, worry waved the white flag and retreated. 

If you’re overwhelmed by worry, introduce it to gratitude.

Tasks

When I became a mother, each morning became what seemed to be an endless list of mommy tasks: clean bottles, wash clothes, and on and on. I was sure I could Excel spreadsheet my way out of the overwhelm, but I could barely keep up with the constant new developments. This breathless task-chasing couldn’t continue, but I couldn’t fathom what to do next. 

I was already putting myself on the back-burner, and I knew from other mothers that this could lead to burnout down the road. I had long wanted to discover my purpose, but I had put this desire on the back-burner intentionally until my little one was a bit older. 

I don’t recall the momentbut it was early onit was clear, and it was direct Now, now, now it’s time to discover your purpose!” My response would not have shocked most new mums What? Now? Between the breast pumping and blowout diapers?

As I took steps forward I launched headfirst into a very intentional season of discovery. It was with my own coach and incredible resources that I was finally able to see my purpose and step into what this meant for my life. 

RELATED: Motherhood Is Only Part of My Purpose

Sure enough, now really was the perfect time. My life slowly became more than my tasks. In fact, as I gained focus on my purpose, many of my tasks fell off the list completely or became part of a game (but that’s for another article). 

If you’re overwhelmed by tasks, find space for purpose (now is the time).

Expectations

Before the baby, I had always enjoyed planning ideas for the future. Now, all the time spent overplanning was time spent away from my special gift. The problem with planning was that I got lost in expectations and these rarely (OK, never) turned out the way I expected. 

Thankfully, early on in my days as a mother, I was multitasking breastfeeding/pumping/bottle feeding (lactation was my first unreal expectation apparently) while reading the book, Slay Like A Mother: How to Destroy What’s Holding You Back So You Can Live The Life You Want. The author, Katherine Wintsch (who I’m pleased to say is just as funny and lovely in person), saved me years of stress and heartache with her section on expectations. Here is a favorite quotation: 

“The only keepsakes my ridiculous expectations left behind were impossibly long to-do lists that ended up in the trash. Oh wait, they also left me with bone-tired fatigue, bags under my eyes, a constant unsettled feeling that I could and should do more, and more gray hair than any of my friends.”

Because of this candid glimpse into my certain future, I was able to press pause and make a deliberate decision to live life differently. Pressing reset on life every morning with a 90-minute walk in the woods has been one of the major keys in turning a life driven by expectations into a life lived in the present. 

If you’re overwhelmed by expectations, be present for those around you.

Comparison

Finally, there was maybe the ugliest overwhelm of them all: comparison. If it wasn’t monitoring who was losing baby fat faster than me, it was asking and seeing who pumped more breast milk. Mine never did come in completely, so I was always playing a losing game.

RELATED: The Dangers of Comparison

After a few truly ugly cries, I started listening to my dad’s voice who was constantly saying, “Aren’t we rich?” By the world’s standards, we’re probably not, but something happens quite often when we go places, people smile. My smile and my son’s smile are a reflection of the beauty we seek out on a daily basis, and I’ve come to realize that the joy we naturally radiate is not normal in this day and age. 

With our eyes focused on things of beauty, the things that bring us enduring joy, our life is properly ordered, and we’re able to live outside of the whirlpool of comparison. 

If you’re overwhelmed by comparison, create contentment. 

Overwhelm’s Equal and Opposite Action Cheat Sheet 

If you’re overwhelmed by worry, introduce it to gratitude.

If you’re overwhelmed by tasks, find space for purpose (now is the time).

If you’re overwhelmed by expectations, be present for those around you.

If you’re overwhelmed by comparison, create contentment.

Johanna  Stamps 

I’m a mompreneur, adventurer and founder of Positive Doing: https://positivedoingcoach.com. I’m a published author: https://amzn.to/33FxjQR. My vision is to use writing, speaking, and life coaching to create an army of flexible and fulfilled women and mothers. You can find more of my work here: https://positivedoingcoach.com/these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-posts/