You’re never going to believe what I said to both my boys the other day. But then again, you’re a mom too, so maybe it won’t be that much of a stretch.
“You’re going to break my brain!” I blurted out in a moment of absolutely-gonna-lose-it-soon exhaustion. It must have adequately got my point across because both of them immediately stopped and became uncharacteristically silent. Don’t worry, though. Things quickly resumed to normal. They were soon making just as much noise as before, only this time it was fits of laughter over the absurdity of mom’s comment.
“You no break brain, Momma,” Mark said gleefully, hunching over and holding his tummy to suppress the giggles that continued to bubble over.
“Yeah, that’s silly!” Nate agreed. “That can’t really happen.”
I begged to differ.
We’ve all felt it. The feeling like everything’s closing in, threatening to suffocate us at any given but imminent moment. It can be one tiny sound or even an innocent misstep of a little one that just does us in. It’s the overwhelming feeling of going from hanging on to absolutely falling apart. But the truth is, it’s exactly this point—when we begin to feel this way—that we need to take action ourselves. Don’t wait to do damage control later.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and let me tell you, I’ve needed to get pretty darn creative when it comes to refueling (so as not to break my brain). Here’s a few of my own homespun, tried and true ways to refuel on the fly and fast:
- Find (or create) the funny fast. Any doctor will tell you that laughter is good medicine. It lowers blood pressure, but it immediately helps default an otherwise stressful situation quickly, too. If despite all your best efforts you can’t find anything to laugh about, get creative and make a way to force some giggles out of everyone, yourself included.
- Boil it down to basics. Are you overwhelmed because of the sheer amount you have to do and think about? Then, give yourself a moment to consciously and purposefully think about what is really important. What are your true priorities? What really matters? If you can boil it down to what’s simple and specific, it’s a whole lot easier to let all the other not-so-important stuff go.
- Create and use a “calm down” cue for you. It can be playing an uplifting song, taking a moment to put on a bit of your favorite lotion or even as simple as taking a deep breath. The important thing is to decide on one (or a few things!) in particular, and train your mind to quiet and your body to calm down whenever you do these specific things. (If you’re curious, I squeeze my left shoulder when I need to calm down quickly but discreetly. At home, I have several audio anthems (aka favorite mp3s) that I listen to. When I’m lucky enough to have a few minutes to myself to calm down, I sip hot tea.)
- Remember (exactly) what you’re supposed to do in the first place. Approach your life and all your responsibilities from a position of stewardship, not ownership. We are called to be good stewards of everything God gives us. We can only do our very best, and should strive to do no more or less. But an owner bears much more responsibility and control. When overwhelmed comes lurking around, send it packing because God owns your life, not you.
If you think you feel overwhelmed, depleted and on the verge of defeated, just imagine how the Israelites felt while being chased by Pharaoh. Then, take a deep breath and remember what Moses said: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV) So give yourself permission and the opportunity to be still by taking the time to refuel, too.