Unloading the Mental Load: helping moms cope with the day to day of motherhood
You’ve probably heard the term “Mental Load” tossed around quite a bit. But what does it mean? “Mental Load” is a term that refers to the cognitive effort it takes to manage all of the tasks and responsibilities of your day to day life. For moms, the mental load can be even more overwhelming since it’s not just our own responsibilities we’re in charge of. We’re now managing the responsibilities of multiple other humans, in addition to our own. Oh, and don’t forget the house, the job, the marriage, the pets… The list goes on and on and on.
So how do we unload the mental load? Below are my keys to relieving moms of the pressure of their enormous mental loads.
Deep belly breaths can trigger your “Rest & Digest” nervous system. You cannot be anxious and calm at the same time and you cannot think rationally while you are stressed. So take a moment to breathe deeply - this will allow you to think clearly as you tackle your big list.
Do a brain dump
Write everything down on paper, or take a moment to think or talk about every little thing - literally everything - that’s on your mind. From making the kids’ doctor’s appointments to the grocery list to that side dish you have to bring to family dinner. Get it all out. This helps because your brain is like a computer, it only has so much capacity at a given time. So by backing it all up on an “external hard drive” like a piece of paper, your phone, or just speaking it out will release the pressure that simply comes from being overloaded.
Make a plan
Once you have everything out in the open, make a plan. Take care of the most important things first. Set a day and time to tackle these priorities, then work on lesser priorities. Anything that can be delegated or deleted - do it.
Put it in perspective
Remember that your family’s safety and wellbeing are priority #1. Everything else is preference. Do you have to postpone that doctor’s appointment? Fine. Can your haircut wait a week? So be it. Take care of what’s important and give yourself grace on the rest. If you’re having a hard time putting it in perspective, call a friend and listen. Often hearing someone else’s daily stresses or adventures will make yours seem less daunting. Even just taking a walk outside can help to recalibrate you and help you to gain some perspective.
Keep it simple
In today’s over-scheduled world, it may feel like we need to do all the things all at once and do them all perfectly. But reevaluate your life. What needs to go? Is it a commitment that no longer serves you? A friendship that drains you? Maybe it’s time to release these things to find your balance.
As you journey to unload your mental load, remember it takes practice and intentionality. It will ebb and flow and that’s OK. Give yourself grace and get plenty of rest and sleep. This will allow you to think clearly and perform at your best, while oh yeah, also actually enjoying your life.