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You’re Not a Bad Mom, You’re Overstimulated

Picture this: You’re trying to make dinner and you have a baby on your hip. Your other child/ren are needing your attention right at that moment. The TV is on and someone has turned the volume up loud. The dog is barking and wants someone to let them in/out. While you’re trying to make dinner, you’re also trying not to forget about the laundry that needs to be finished, things you need to pick up from the grocery store, and a doctor’s appointment to make. You’re tired and struggling to balance it all at that moment. You find yourself yelling at your child or your partner, maybe even over something minor. Now you feel worse.

Do you at times lose your patience and yell or become snippy? Does it feel like that frustration is often taken out on your partner or children? Maybe you even feel bad about it, and start thinking you’re a bad mom. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are you’re being overstimulated.

Anyone can quickly become overstimulated. Lights, noises, sounds, it can all create a calming, or not so calming, experience. If the music is too loud and the space is too hot, you can become overstimulated and feel anxious, upset, or even have a strong urge to run.

Moms are frequently overstimulated. There’s lots of noise. A rush and urgency to get things done. A minimal sense of relaxation. A mounting to-do list. A screaming baby or toddler. The list goes on. And while one of two of those things might feel manageable, it’s not uncommon to quickly feel overstimulated and overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. You’re a good mom. What it actually means is there’s too much happening at once, your senses and brain are overwhelmed, and you’re feeling pushed to the max.

What’s the Solution?

Because being overstimulated is very common and a natural human experience, we have tools to help you in that moment address your needs, decrease your exposure to things causing you overstimulation, and feel a sense of relief. And in doing so, you can actually prevent yourself from responding in ways that make you feel guilty or cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself. Instead of trying to push through those moments until you hit your breaking point, try these:

  1. Proactively Ask For Help: Yes, that’s right. Before starting on tasks and trying to tackle things yourself, ask for help from your partner/friends/family. Can someone else tend to your child’s needs while you make dinner? Or could someone else make dinner while you tend to a task that needs your attention? Proactively asking for help can set us up to feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed.
  2. Don’t Try To Do It All: Are you guilty or trying to do too many things at once? If that’s the case, accepting you cannot get it all done and focusing on just what you can is a great way to decrease the potential for overstimulation.
  3. Minimize Noises: Does the TV really need to be on all the time? If your child is playing with toys and you’re trying to do something, turn off the TV. Minimize sounds and cut out unnecessary noises that do not need to be playing in the background. They are distracting and very overstimulating.
  4. Understand Your Window: We all have a small window of time where we have a chance to decrease the risk of becoming overstimulated and reacting poorly in the moment. Take note of your body sensations. Are you starting to feel anxious or rushed? Do you feel tense or frustrated? Are you noticing yourself feeling less happy or excitable? These are your cues you may need to intervene or you could lose your patience, say something you don’t mean, or yell.
  5. Take A Time Out: Adults benefit from time outs too. Are you starting to feel overwhelmed? Have you realized you’re going to yell if you don’t have a second to breathe? It’s time for a time out. Call a timeout and walk away. Go to the bathroom. Grab some fresh air. Take a lap around the outside of the house. Do something to remove yourself from the stimulation and just focus on breathing. You can do this.

Are you someone that struggles with overstimulation and feel you need more help with managing this discomfort in your life? If so, reach out to us today and let’s come up with a plan to tackle this together.