Ever felt overstimulated? Find yourself searching for any ounce of patience to get through a meltdown (you or your child)? Racing to get things done when your kid is sleeping?
And then do you also notice you’re getting more colds, feeling a lack of energy or motivation, or even get a diagnosis of Hypothyroidism or Hashimotos?
Ya, we hear you loud and clear. And we may chalk it up to our kids being in daycare (aka the Petri Dish), but it’s actually much more than just getting exposed to more bugs (AND we’d argue too much sanitation too). At the root of getting sick more often is due to the fact that we are often way too overstimulated.
When we are overstimulated too often – and don’t know how to manage that overstimulation – our nervous system goes into overdrive. And if you’re familiar with how our body’s work and being in the sympathetic state (fight or flight) too much, you know that leads to wreaking havoc on your overall stress, which leads to immune dysfunction. Too much mental OR physical stress will overflow our “stress cup” and have our body using up more resources and searching for more support. Your body starts to look for day-to-day survival, rather than longevity. And as a result, these symptoms often appear: hormone imbalance, infertility, low or underactive thyroid, inability to lose belly fat, poor sleep, poor energy, memory issues, and getting sick often.
What Can We Do?
For starters, we can start to recognize when we feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. For you, what do you think is overflowing your cup when it comes to day to day activities? Is it at work too – meeting after meeting with little or no downtime? Or when the dogs haven’t been walked and the baby is crying and the toddler is melting down and the dishes are piling? Or maybe you’re running from activity to activity in the evenings?
Once you know the heavy hitters contributing, then consider, is it an even bigger picture thing? We often see in our clients that we are doing too much in general. Working too many hours, setting too big of expectations in our day of house chores or errands, trying to multitask, and not allowing enough space and time to down regulate with ourselves, AND with our children. And those reps over time (even just months), compound and take a toll on our body.
Another note, when you become pregnant, your body starts needing more. Meaning more nutrients of course, but also more love and attention as we are going through a lot of mental and physical change. And when you think about pregnancy, early postpartum, and then doing it again with more kids, your body can be in a perpetual cycle of being depleted – mentally and physically. You as a mother are often sleeping less (and likely lower quality when you do sleep), learning how to parent and be patient, how to be more flexible in the day with all the moving parts, all while still spending precious time with your little ones. It’s a lot! And we tend to blow past all that is required of that. It requires a reallocation of time, and being intentional with it. And not just “time with your kids”. Presence with them. And presence with yourself, and making time to fill your cup, and time with your spouse.
So, think about how you can slow yourself down, demand less of yourself when it comes to the “to-do’s”, stay in your lane (avoid the comparison trap), and do what feels right and healthy to you. At least in those first few higher developmental years (say 0-5 years) that require a lot more mental and physical energy and patience?
Some simple starter ideas:
- Allow extra time for transportation in the mornings and between activities. Plan for at least 30 extra minutes to get the kids and yourself ready to go, allow time to have the meltdown, time to stop and smell the flowers, and time to be early and sit with your kids.
- Reframe your thoughts and actions when you’re running late. When you’re rushing, your cortisol is higher and your kid will feel that energy and see how you react. What’s more important? Being on time, yet feeling rushed and your kid kicking and screaming as a result? Or being a few minutes late, and you both feeling at least a little bit better (lower cortisol, body feels safer)? Side note: this becomes less often when you use tip #1.
- Breathe. When in a moment of overwhelm or internal rage breathe. Take a moment to shake it out, deep breathe, reframe.
- Take time for YOU in your day. This may look like scheduling in a 20 minute walk, asking your partner for 15 minutes alone before dinner, or waking up in the morning to journal or do a short workout.
- Consider what you want your day and weeks to look like in the next few years. What would that require? Can you adjust that at some point (hint: yes you can)? Can you take the 0-5 stage of your kids life to do a little less (with work, activities, etc.)? What balance feels best for you?
At the end of the day we often come back to the thought… “We are not guaranteed tomorrow, yet we are guaranteed this moment right now.” And not only will that bring gratitude, but when you take time for yourself to slow down, you start to down regulate more often. Being in a more parasympathetic state (rest and digest or “calm” state) more often, allows for your body to get out of “survival mode”, and into a state of healing and safety. Then we are sick less often, show up more vibrant for our kids and loved ones, and lead by example. It’s a wonderful domino effect!