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.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

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/

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

I Look Forward to the End of a Work Day for a Whole New Reason Now

In: Motherhood
Dad hugs toddler at home

Those minutes matter. Whether it’s 5 or 15, every single second of them counts. Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to explain. I’m not sure there are any words that could really create the right picture. But believe me when I say those minutes count. I’m talking about those final minutes leading up to that door opening and some form of relief being on the other side. Those minutes you never thought would come. Those minutes mean you made it through another day, and there is (possibly) some relief in sight. This is a new experience I wasn’t quite ready...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

I Wasn’t Sure You’d Be Here To Hold

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother with newborn baby on her chest in hospital bed

I stood naked in my parents’ bathroom. Even with the tub filling, I could hear my family chattering behind the door. I longed to be with them, not hiding alone with my seven-month round belly, sleep-deprived, and covered in pox-like marks. For three weeks, I’d tried Benadryl, lotions, and other suggested remedies to cure the strange rash spreading over my body. No luck. By Christmas Day, my life had been reduced to survival. Day and night, I tried to resist itching, but gave in, especially in my sleep. At 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., the feeling of fire ants...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

God Has You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman hugging herself while looking to the side

Holding tight to the cold, sterile rail of the narrow, rollaway ER bed, I hovered helplessly over my oldest daughter. My anxious eyes bounced from her now steadying breaths to the varying lines and tones of the monitor overhead. Audible reminders of her life that may have just been spared. For 14 years, we’d been told anaphylaxis was possible if she ingested peanuts. But it wasn’t until this recent late autumn evening we would experience the fear and frenzy of our apparent new reality. My frantic heart hadn’t stopped racing from the very moment she struggled to catch a breath....

Keep Reading