As most of you have noticed, and pointed out, I have been pretty MIA lately. For those of you that receive the weekly newsletter, I have let y’all in on my recent struggles a little bit. (If you aren’t already receiving the newsletter, you can click here to sign up.) Long story short, I needed a mental health break. At some point, we all have to recognize our frustrations for what they are and take responsibility for them.
About one month ago I was interviewed for a guest post on Mummying My Way regarding my struggle with depression and anxiety. There are VERY FEW people that I have opened up to about this topic, and I almost didn’t share my journey for fear of what others would think of my silence. But, like all of the other vulnerable posts I have shared, this one has touched many people. I appreciate every single one of you that has reached out to me showing your support and letting me know how my story has encouraged you.
Self-Inflicted Mental Overload
I have a bad habit of biting off WAY more than I can chew at times. Recently, I made a few new commitments. My husband has been fully supportive, but the first thing out of his mouth when I told him everything I had committed to was, “Why do you do this to yourself?”
At first, I was taken aback. Like what the heck did he mean by that?????
And then he elaborated, “Why do you say ‘yes’ to all of these things that you know you don’t have time for?”
STAB. TO. THE HEART.
But he was 100% right.
Here I am: full-time mom, wife, homeschooling, blogging, working part-time from home, contributing to other blogs, contributing to books, beginning my own books, leading Bible studies, participating in online book clubs. All while trying to keep the house semi-put together, stay sane, make sure that my kids are fed and not killing each other, and nurturing my spiritual growth.
I said “YES” to everything that was asked of me. That’s who I have always been, though, so why should I change it now?
How I knew that I needed a Mental Health Break
One day, as I was sitting here writing, Lana came to me and said, “Mama, why do you work so much?” This, of course, should have been my first sign that I needed to take a step back, but I overlooked it. My anxiety was getting increasingly worse. I could feel my heart racing throughout most of my day.
After reading that early mornings can make you more productive, I started waking up earlier. But i was still staying up until 1 or 2 am.
Another day, Lana came to me and asked when we were going to do some “real school”. I had been turning on educational movies and TV shows, but had strayed far from the hands on approach that she needed.
Anger issues began to surface. Mostly as a result of my anxiety, but I was snapping on the kids for little things. My mom-guilt would eat me up at night as I laid in bed thinking about all of the events during the day. Then, my depression started to creep up.
Finally, one day, I could just hear, “rest”. I am thoroughly convinced now that it was Holy Spirit speaking to me.
My Mental Health Vacay: What I STOPPED
As a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), there is only so much that I can do to “get away”. However, I knew that my body, mind, and soul needed a reset.
The first thing that I did was change my availability for my part-time job to zero hours. I am beyond thankful for a job that allows me to take time off as needed!
Then, I cleared my blogging calendar. This was SO hard for me. Here I am, only 3 months into blogging and having to take a break. My blogging stats were just starting to get where I would like them to be, and I felt like taking a break would get rid of any progress I had made. But being that blogging was taking up so much of my time, I knew it was necessary.
Writing: Books, blogging, and in general
When it came down to my manuscripts, I took the focus off of “making all of the words flow right”. Writing is one of my biggest passions. Nonetheless, I had allowed myself to get to a place where I was conforming. Instead of allowing my work to speak for itself, I was writing what I thought everyone else wanted.
What my Mental Health Break allowed me to START
Reset and Reconnection with my Maker
The first thing that I knew needed to make a reappearance was my morning prayer and worship. I started rising earlier, not to work like before, but to worship. To pray. And to start my day on the right track. I had gotten so far away from where I needed to be spiritually, and I needed a reset. Thankfully, God’s grace allowed for that!
Secondly, I reevaluated the time spent with my kids. So much of my energy had been focused on what I needed to do to be successful. I didn’t have time to play, truly enjoy movies, or learn new things with them. Or so I thought. Every morning we have started having breakfast together where we discuss things we want to do that day. You would be amazed how little it takes to make your kids day! Lana simply wants me to play dolls with her. Aceyn wants me to let him be a dog (don’t ask. Lol.) Norah just wants basic attention of any kind. These things take hardly any time or effort, and it MAKES THEIR DAY. Since making these little changes to our day my kids have cancelled their nap strike, stopped fighting all day, and just been overall more peaceful and kind.
My husband and I have also been finding more time to spend with the kids one-on-one as well as each other.
Homeschooling was the third major overhaul. We now have designated reading times before breakfast, nap, and bed time. The kids love the extra hour of time we get together in these moments. Also, we have begun weekly science and baking projects. Tons of mess, but tons of fun.
As far as blogging and my book projects, I just decided to focus on letting my work speak for itself. I have full confidence that the right people will be reached by my words. The opinions of others no longer drive me. Only my passion.
Signs that YOU need to take a mental health break
- You aren’t doing anyone any favors if you are ignoring your exhaustion. No one can function correctly if their brain hasn’t had any down time. Rest is BEYOND important.
More anxious than usual
- My anxiety is always kicked into high gear when my schedule is overloaded. In the beginning stages, I somehow manage to convince myself that I am over-analyzing. It’s important to recognize when you are battling anxiety and pinpoint your triggers.
Inability to focus
- I CANNOT focus when I am bogged down with deadlines. Whether it be writing deadlines, appointments, or just house work calling my name, if there is too much on my plate I am unable to focus on anything.
- Anxiety, plus exhaustion, plus stress equals an easily irritated mama. With three littles under the age of 5, staying on top of my mental stressors is so important.
Feeling disconnected or down
- This is often one of the last signs that I recognize because most times I just assume it’s normal to feel this way. And to an extent, it is. But when you get to the point where you can’t seem to connect with anything, forget why you are doing what you’re doing, or just lose all of your drive and motivation, a mental break is necessary!
If you relate to any of the points above…
Take a step back.
Don’t be ashamed to reach out if you don’t know how to get out of your funk.
Refocus on your goals, and if you don’t have any goals, set some.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
What do you do to reset mentally? How do YOU get back on track?
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