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 cannot 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. 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.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Praise the Lord
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. The old hymns, the new ones, Psalms set to music, or just a list of theologically sound worship will help you “set your mind on things above, and not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
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.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.
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 Elliot’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. (I absolutely love the way the Not Consumed Planner is designed. The content is so perfect for the overwhelmed homeschool mother!)
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. When you’re rocking a baby, laying down to sleep at night, or driving in your car, listen to an audio Bible.
I have also found encouragement as a mother and homemaker in great books. Elisabeth Elliot both spoke and wrote encouragement to women during her lifetime. Keep a Quiet Heart is a great one. I’ve always enjoyed fiction that glorifies God, including books like Janette Oke’s prairie stories. 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.
Finding someone trustworthy who understands your specific circumstances is extremely helpful. Whether it’s depression, financial strain, a special needs child, teenager struggles…someone has walked in your shoes and is ready to encourage you and help you. Go to your pastor, a licensed biblical counselor, or even a good book on the topic. Sometimes we forget that there are answers, and we just need to find them.
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
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. If you can’t summon the energy to cook for someone, pick up a deli or restaurant meal and deliver it to them. 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! When you return to social media, consider adjusting the feed that you see. Unfollow the accounts that produce discontent, anger (even righteous anger), or oppression. You have the ability to completely curate what you’re exposed to. So do it!
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, or your life.
Now tell me: what advice can you share for those feeling overwhelmed?