There are those days, or weeks, or months, when you struggle through each day just trying to get through one thing at a time. Maybe you have lots of little children. Maybe you have too much on your list. Maybe you have experienced the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe you don’t even know why you’re struggling. All you know is that you just can motivate yourself to do basic tasks. How do you cope when you’re overwhelmed?
But in these times, the children still need you, the laundry still piles up, and the family still wants to eat. Never mind your other commitments; the basics seem daunting enough.
I have been in this very place numerous times in my adulthood. Never mind how long that is. Ahem. As I struggled through days or weeks of depression or feelings of being overwhelmed, I had to find a way to keep going. I have learned several things over these many years, and they still help me when I struggle. Some of this advice is spiritual. Some of it is practical. Some of it is feel-good. A nice blend of all three helps me not only accomplish basic tasks, but lifts my spirits and gives me renewed emotional and physical strength.
This is absolutely the very first thing I do. And my prayers sometime sound like a jumbled mess of desperate pleas and cries for mercy. But I DO cry out to God and “cast my burdens on the Lord.” (1 Peter 5:7) It’s such a simple concept, but sometimes the most simple things are the most powerful.
Turn on praise music
You don’t need to wait for a church service to have your own praise and worship time. And that praise and worship time has always been refreshing to me. I keep a playlist on Apple Music in my iPhone and play it over the TV to fill the house. It needs to be loud! Sing along with the music and let the words minister to you. Some of my favorites are Chris Tomlin, Anthem Lights Hymns, Rich Mullins, and Dennis Jernigan favorites from the 90’s.
Light a candle or two
Or put some cookie dough in the oven. Or put some essential oils in your diffuser. The sense of smell is powerful, and you can utilize it to raise your spirits! Nice scents make you feel like the housework is underway, and cookies in the oven make you feel productive.
Attend to the children
This may mean giving them food, or clean clothes, or reading them a story. It might mean letting them watch cartoons, or sending them out in the yard to play. Give them some of those cookies and explain that Mama needs to reset the day. This is okay!
Sunshine and fresh air are the most natural medicines in the world! Go sit in the sunshine with your Bible or a good book, or take a walk around your yard or the neighborhood. At the very least, open a window and sit in front of it.
Make a list
When you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, take Elisabeth Eliot’s famous advice and “do the next thing.” For me, that’s always meant “make a list of all the things.” Getting my thoughts organized is a big help toward feeling accomplished. It doesn’t matter how much is on that list, or if it’s organized in a certain order. Just write the stuff down, and then pick the first thing you want to do. My advice: don’t try to pick the most important thing (unless you have a deadline!); just pick something easy. Keep that music playing and mark a task or two off the list.
The scriptures are full of encouragement and God’s promises! In times like these, read the Psalms. They were literally written by a man who was constantly overwhelmed.
I have also found encouragement as a mother and homemaker in great books. Elisabeth Eliot both spoke and wrote encouragement to women during her lifetime. Keep a Quiet Heart is a great one. Oddly, I also enjoy reading Janette Oke’s books. The simple prairie life of a wife and mother, or the life of single ladies waiting for God’s direction are a peaceful, enjoyable encouragement. When I finish reading these, I look forward to the simple joys of housework and cooking.
This can be a foreign thought when you seem to be unable to even care for your own needs. But sometimes taking the focus off of ourselves has a great effect on our attitudes. I speak from experience. Call a friend who you know might be lonely, or help someone with their housework. It may seem impossible, but it works!
Take a break from social media
I’m not saying you should give it up. Just ignore it for the day. Too much of it has an effect similar to vegging in front of the TV all day. Turn off the electronics and see the difference!
Whatever you are going through right now, remember that God is all-powerful and ever-present. You just need to make Him a part of your day. Prayer, Bible study, worship music, and a few practical tasks will hopefully help you adjust to your circumstances and take back your day.
Now tell me: what advice can you share for those feeling overwhelmed?
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Board of Directors. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.