Rest up, relax, chill out, sleep when the baby sleeps. It all sounds good in theory but what if you can’t? Your mind is racing with everything you need to do, haven’t done, should have done or should have done differently.
You name it, you are in mental overload, buzzing with nervous energy and your body simply can’t keep up.Yet you feel you have no choice but to keep going. What happens when you are so exhausted you think you might fall asleep in your coffee, let alone have the energy to lift your cup up. Straw anyone?
More and more of us are feeling that way every day. Your stress levels are rising, your forgetful and it becomes so all-consuming that you wonder when its ever going to end.
This is our bodies are giving us feedback that something needs to change.
Sustained periods of feeling “tired but wired” inevitably results in burnout and that feeling that you can hardly pull yourself out of bed in the morning no matter how much sleep you’ve had. Your body simply cannot keep up with the daily overload of adrenalin and cortisol that pumps into your body to calm the effects of the adrenalin.
The body generates adrenalin (your short-term stress hormone) as response to a threat or a challenge. It’s meant to be an acute response designed to help get you out of danger, not meant to be a daily occurrence. When an excess of adrenalin is released, your body produces cortisol to reduce the inflammation (cortisol is your long-term stress hormone). To cope, it slows down your metabolism and reduces your ability to create muscle so creates more fat, hence belly fat or the “muffin top”. You cannot retain memories and you are in “threat mode” hence an increase in the perceived effects of baby brain.
Sounds scary right? Well don’t worry, we’ve got some sure-fire ways to cure your “tired but weird” feeling;
1. Stop saying yes when you know you should say no
Mums are by default nurturers, as their focus narrows to take care of this little human that relies on them for everything. The problem comes when you start being everything to everyone BUT YOURSELF!
You start putting your needs last. Which is why you get to the end of the day, collapse into bed and go “Oh I really wanted to do that today,” or “What happened to my quiet, relaxing time?”. It’s time to think about putting yourself first or to put it another way; stop putting yourself last!
You know when you’re saying yes to something out of “obligation” versus it being what you really want to do. When saying yes starts to impact your health and wellbeing, it’s time to start practising saying no to others and yes to you more often. Our kids learn their habits from us, so if it helps, think of it as if you’re teaching your child that self-care matters and is their own responsibility.
2. Reduce the caffeine / increase your water
Caffeine spikes your adrenalin thus forcing your body to respond to the “attack” each time you have a coffee. Now I know that some of you would rather cut of your arm than give up coffee so I’d recommend that you reduce what you’re having each day.
Also, try to limit any coffee to before 2pm as caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours in your blood stream so can inhibit you easing into a relaxing night’s sleep.
Your body is made up of around 70% water. So we need 33 millilitres for each kilogram of weight a day. Many of us are tired simply because we are dehydrated! A 70-kg person needs around 2.3 litres water to remain hydrated. Some foods and herbal teas help with this; however, don’t be fooled! Caffeine & alcohol dehydrate you!
3. Get present to the HERE and NOW
If we are constantly worrying about what we need to do or that we haven’t done enough, then we’re focussing on the FUTURE or the PAST. After a while, the present becomes a blur.
A really simple way to get present is to find a point on the wall in front of you at eye level and stare at it. Focus in to it whilst you notice all the sounds around you, see what’s around you in your peripheral vision, feel your feet on the ground, tune into your breathing all whilst focussing in on that spot on the wall.
Doing this for a few minutes will ground you into the here and now.
4. Stop the distractions
Technology allows us to be constantly connected. However, it also continually interrupts our focus from what we’re doing.
With the exception of text messages and phone calls, turn off all other notifications from apps on your phone and laptop. Constantly hearing beeps, seeing your screen flooded puts you in a state of heightened awareness.
Instead, allow yourself set times during the day to check these apps. If you’re a working Mum, turn your work email off your personal phone and just have your calendar synced. This allows you to be present and relaxed in where you’re at rather than that feeling of jumping between multiple pulls on your focus and energy.
5. Create small goals for the day & CELEBRATE them
Often what drives a stressed state of being is when we are worried about what others will think or we fear that we are not good enough.
In today’s world of social media, we are bombarded with volumes of people happy, fit, successful etc. It can be easy to forget that we are only seeing what they choose to portray to the world. So, cut yourself some slack and start being your own barometer for what success looks like for you. After all, you know you best!
Start with creating one small goal for the day, it may be getting to the bottom of a hot cup of tea, or having a shower and really celebrate that. Your brain will respond to the focus on what’s going well versus what you perceive is missing from your life.
Share with your significant other or tell a friend. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more you will see how much you are achieving each day.
6. Accept where you’re at
During hard times, it can be easy to wish the time away. However, many times these are combined with a beauty that cannot be experienced any other time.
Being a new Mum is hard work. There is so much to learn, your work load increases and you have a little person entirely dependent on you for their every need. You’re tired, you don’t recognise your body and you’re wondering when you’ll get to sleep uninterrupted with you partner the whole night through.
Wondering if you’re “getting it right”, it’s easy to focus on counting down the hours until it becomes easier. You don’t have to like where you’re at, however fighting it makes it so much harder.
Acknowledge the parts that suck, change the parts you can, ask for help where you need it and look for beauty in the little things that you know won’t last forever. Everything changes so fast; be present so you notice it.