Sarie Taylor: Overwhelm

Sarie Taylor: Overwhelm

Overwhelm – anxiety, stress & worry

Feeling overwhelmed? Our resident Psychotherapist, Sarie Taylor gives us some tips to reduce our stress and anxiety when juggling work and family life…

Let’s start by looking at what we even mean by overwhelm? Usually we are talking about when we feel like we have too much on our plate! Too much to do, or to think about, and we often get to a place where we feel like one more thing will happen and it will tip us over the edge!

There is often an innocent misunderstanding about overwhelm in that we believe it stems from the challenges we face, the external things in our lives that cause us to get overwhelmed, our work, our family and so on. I really get it, and believed this wholeheartedly myself for many years until I was able to understand more and see things differently. Bare with me whilst I explain!

Life does throw so many challenges our way, as well as opportunities, and at times it can feel never ending as though we are being faced with one thing after the other, and we have no control! Now there is some truth in this in that the majority of things day to day are actually very much out of our control. The issue comes when we find discomfort in what we can’t control, and so we try to control the uncontrollable using the gift of thought, our minds, queue the worry!

Lets just say it was the external stuff that caused the overwhelm directly. We would all have the same levels of overwhelm and stress about the same things and yet we don’t. Something I find stressful may be a breeze for you, and then something you really fear may be an everyday easy occurrence fo me? It’s our response to the challenges we face, our perspective and our thinking about what is happening that creates the overwhelm. Overwhelm comes from the inside out, not outside in!

I would actually go a far to say that the overwhelm is caused 99.9% of the time from the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves, often habitually without even realising, we just get so good at it. Let’s take guilt as an example, parental guilt is talked about a lot. Our feelings always come from our thinking and this includes guilt. Feeling guilty as a parent often involves feeling that you are struggling to be all things to all people and somehow not quite hitting the mark (your expectations). This is not a reflection of your ability as a parent, it does not correlate with whether you are enough, doing a good enough job or getting it ‘right’. It is simply an indication of where your thinking is at…

“I feel bad I haven’t spent much time with me kids”

“I am behind at work because my child has been unwell”

“I feel selfish but I just need a break”

We could go on, and I am sure we could all add hundreds if not thousands of comments and thoughts to this! All of these thoughts create feelings of not quite being enough and then naturally cause us to feel overwhelmed. What if you could change the goal posts yourself? What if you could lower your expectations? Even with all the challenges we face as parents, we can still change the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves. ‘Yes but’ I hear you say! Well you can come up with all the reasons as to why you cant reduce the pressure or expectations, but ultimately if you don’t, your body will slow you down anyway, through feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, catching every cough and cold you come into contact with amongst many other things. It’s our bodies job to slow us down when we don’t take notice. We are humans not robots.

The other aspect to overwhelm, that we don’t always notice, is that we are not often concerned with that present moment, (as we are actually managing and more capable than we give ourselves credit for), but again we are more in our head about what happens next! Let me give you some examples.

‘My child is ill and I feel overwhelmed’ – usually translates to, what if they get worse, what if I am off work for another day, how will I manage (future what ifs)

“I just don’t get a minute to myself” – usually translates to if I carry online this what will happen, when does it end? (Future what ifs)

“I keep getting terrible headaches” – usually translates to what is wrong with me, is this something serious, how will I manage if it is, who will take care of my children? (Future what ifs)

I would love you to reflect on how much of your suffering is really about the here and now, or if it is in actual fact more about the what ifs, the stories we create trying to predict the future and believe we are in control!

How can you start to reduce your overwhelm starting right NOW? Even just picking one will make a difference!

*Treat yourself with compassion NOT criticism

*Adjust your expectations, lower that pressure

*Remember we are only ever doing the best we can given our thinking at the time

*We are enough!

*Ask yourself…would you treat your closest friend or family in the same way you treat or talk to yourself?

*Ask yourself…right in this very second am I OK?

– will it all get too much to handle? (Not sure how you want to start it or how you plan to do the title)

Let’s start by looking at what we even mean by overwhelm? Usually we are talking about when we feel like we have too much on our plate! Too much to do, or to think about, and we often get to a place where we feel like one more thing will happen and it will tip us over the edge!

There is often an innocent misunderstanding about overwhelm in that we believe it stems from the challenges we face, the external things in our lives that cause us to get overwhelmed, our work, our family and so on. I really get it, and believed this wholeheartedly myself for many years until I was able to understand more and see things differently. Bare with me whilst I explain!

Life does throw so many challenges our way, as well as opportunities, and at times it can feel never ending as though we are being faced with one thing after the other, and we have no control! Now there is some truth in this in that the majority of things day to day are actually very much out of our control. The issue comes when we find discomfort in what we can’t control, and so we try to control the uncontrollable using the gift of thought, our minds, queue the worry!

Lets just say it was the external stuff that caused the overwhelm directly. We would all have the same levels of overwhelm and stress about the same things and yet we don’t. Something I find stressful may be a breeze for you, and then something you really fear may be an everyday easy occurrence fo me? It’s our response to the challenges we face, our perspective and our thinking about what is happening that creates the overwhelm. Overwhelm comes from the inside out, not outside in!

I would actually go a far to say that the overwhelm is caused 99.9% of the time from the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves, often habitually without even realising, we just get so good at it. Let’s take guilt as an example, parental guilt is talked about a lot. Our feelings always come from our thinking and this includes guilt. Feeling guilty as a parent often involves feeling that you are struggling to be all things to all people and somehow not quite hitting the mark (your expectations). This is not a reflection of your ability as a parent, it does not correlate with whether you are enough, doing a good enough job or getting it ‘right’. It is simply an indication of where your thinking is at…

“I feel bad I haven’t spent much time with me kids”

“I am behind at work because my child has been unwell”

“I feel selfish but I just need a break”

We could go on, and I am sure we could all add hundreds if not thousands of comments and thoughts to this! All of these thoughts create feelings of not quite being enough and then naturally cause us to feel overwhelmed. What if you could change the goal posts yourself? What if you could lower your expectations? Even with all the challenges we face as parents, we can still change the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves. ‘Yes but’ I hear you say! Well you can come up with all the reasons as to why you cant reduce the pressure or expectations, but ultimately if you don’t, your body will slow you down anyway, through feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, catching every cough and cold you come into contact with amongst many other things. It’s our bodies job to slow us down when we don’t take notice. We are humans not robots.  

The other aspect to overwhelm, that we don’t always notice, is that we are not often concerned with that present moment, (as we are actually managing and more capable than we give ourselves credit for), but again we are more in our head about what happens next! Let me give you some examples.

‘My child is ill and I feel overwhelmed’ – usually translates to, what if they get worse, what if I am off work for another day, how will I manage (future what ifs)

“I just don’t get a minute to myself” – usually translates to if I carry online this what will happen, when does it end? (Future what ifs)

“I keep getting terrible headaches” – usually translates to what is wrong with me, is this something serious, how will I manage if it is, who will take care of my children? (Future what ifs)

I would love you to reflect on how much of your suffering is really about the here and now, or if it is in actual fact more about the what ifs, the stories we create trying to predict the future and believe we are in control!

How can you start to reduce your overwhelm starting right NOW? Even just picking one will make a difference!

*Treat yourself with compassion NOT criticism

*Adjust your expectations, lower that pressure

*Remember we are only ever doing the best we can given our thinking at the time

*We are enough!

*Ask yourself…would you treat your closest friend or family in the same way you treat or talk to yourself?

*Ask yourself…right in this very second am I OK?

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AUNTIE CATH’S EASY ENERGY-BOOSTING FLAPJACKS

Ingredients
3 large bananas
175 g dates chopped
180 g oats
75 g butter melted
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 pinch salt

 

Instructions
Preheat oven to 180c/Gas 4
Mash bananas in a bowl (get your hands in there, it’s strangely satisfying)
Stir in everything else, mix it up and let it stand for 15 minutes
In the meantime, grease an 8″ square baking tray
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top
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Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Brood Magazine:
You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.
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A number of years ago I was able to understand guilt and see it for what it really is, and I want to share that with you now as it was a great relief for me. Guilt is a feeling just like any other, and feelings always come from our thinking, not our external circumstances, but our thoughts about our external circumstances. We can often be tricked into thinking that we feel guilt because its an indicator that we need to do better, that we are not enough, and we need to make some changes or improvements. However, guilt comes from our thoughts about ourselves and our situation, so the feelings of guilt come from thoughts such as, I need to do more, I should be spending more time with my kids, I am not on top of my work and so on. 

 

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REBECCA ADLINGTON OBE | IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD | INTERVIEW BY LOLO STUBBS | BROOD MAGAZINE ©

“WHY SHOULDN’T I WORK FULL TIME, WHEN I LOVE MY JOB?

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Rebecca was recognised for her incredible achievements by the late HRH Queen Elizabeth II when she was awarded an OBE in 2009 and the British public have had ample opportunity to get to know Becky as person rather than ‘just’ as a swimmer, after she has taken part in a variety of well loved prime time TV shows such as I’m a Celebrity, The Jump and Celebrity Masterchef!

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Rebecca Adlington on business and babies
© BROOD MAGAZINE. REBECCA ADLINGTON OBE
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INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA ADLINGTON OBE

You have used your unbelievable successes as a professional swimmer to build three incredible businesses that are helping thousands of children throughout the UK learn to swim. Tell us a bit more about those businesses and at what point in those businesses did you become a mum? 

“We have three learn to swim businesses under one umbrella; we have swim!, Becky Adlington’s SwimStars, and we also have Total Swimming Academy’s. Swim! is the business that is growing the most. Swim! is our own building, where we control that customer journey and we can make sure that they have a purpose built venue that is just for kids. Swimstars are set within gyms, so we are effectively in somebody else’s house, we have to be respectful to its other members, and total swimming is in schools, so we use school pools, so that’s the difference between all three. And they are all at different stages, total swimming is the oldest that’s 12 years old, Becky Adlington swim stars is 10 years old and swim! is 5. 

My daughter Summer is 7, and my youngest is only one. He was a complete surprise, myself and my partner weren’t married at the time, we hadn’t even really planned on having children, so it was a bit of a shock but a beautiful one. Albie was a lockdown baby as well, I think most people said you either got divorced or pregnant in lockdown – and we got pregnant!” [She laughs] “Summer was still off school, and I was really freaking out about whether or not Andy would be able to come in with me because of all the restrictions at the time. I had heard so many stories about people having to give birth on their own and I just couldn’t even imagine how that would feel and so I didn’t end up going to the hospital until I was 8cm because I was so paranoid about it. I was like, ‘I’m not going to the hospital yet, because I don’t want to be by myself’. When we got there, they asked Andy to wait outside, but it was for only like 5 minutes because the head was coming out and so then they got Andy straight back in. I was so relieved because I can’t imagine going through labour without that support!” 

Because of the industry of your business, the whole Covid period must have been incredibly difficult and full of challenges that no one could foresee, how did you cope with that alongside having a new baby? 

“It was so horrible, we had shut every area of our business down because obviously pools weren’t allowed to be open. When I look back to the first lockdown we had all taken bets as to how long it would last and nobody said anything past 8 weeks, and then it was like 6 months later and we were still in lockdown. So it was really, really difficult for us, we nearly lost the business, because swimming pools were one of the last things that were opened up. I remember when they opened up pubs but still wouldn’t open pools and I couldn’t believe that the government wasn’t seeing that choosing people’s mental and physical health and learning a life skill such as swimming as more important than some other things. I understand of course that the hospitality industry was important too, I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t open swimming pools when it was scientifically proven that chlorine killed covid within 30 seconds, so if you had it or even if it was on your skin as soon as you were in the water, within 30 seconds any of those germs would have been killed? When they came out I think they should have made more noise about that as it’s so important for people to understand that and understand that was actually one of the safest sports to do during covid. Physiologically, it was really hard as you were open, then closed, then open, then closed again. It was just horrible and it felt like an absolute mindfield for us and all of the team who work with us (and for our customers!) One minute their children could come back to swimming then they had to stop them again, it was so stop and start for the kids and a lot of people lost interest or developed fears. We nearly didn’t survive that.” 

Amongst the struggles that your business was going through and preparing for a new baby, you also had Summer at home, how did you deal with the demands of that and homeschooling?  

“I didn’t really homeschool, I’m not going to lie. Summer was only in year one at the time, so we did things that she wouldn’t normally get to do with me instead, like exercising, for example as normally I would go to the gym and do that whilst she’s at school, so it was the first time she had really seen what exercise was. She learnt what a press up was and what a squat was etc not that she was doing them! She also helped me with washing and household chores and things that are actually fundamental to getting through life. Now I can say Summer, ‘can you turn the oven on to 200 degrees’ and she now knows what that means, and she can chop veg like a master!” [We all laugh] “So there are good things like that that came out of it as I didn’t know that at her age. So I was very relaxed about that in lockdown, my main challenge in the first lockdown was to teach her how to ride a bike – that was the main goal for me and she did it! So I was more than happy with that! I think everyone was under enough pressure without worrying about homeschooling as well.” 

How did you manage to bounce back from the brink of losing your business to now seeing such incredible growth?   

“I think one of the main factors was that parents were desperate to get their children to swimming lessons and back in the pool – so we were really lucky that the demand for our service was there. Also in terms of our swim! centres, so many other pools never reopened as they didn’t survive covid and a lot of councils had shut down their pools, I think it’s something like 160 swimming pools shut down in the UK following all the lockdowns so that’s a huge amount of pools up and down the country that people can no longer go to, so for us to be able to open up new pools in areas where there aren’t any, people are keen to come in and use them because parents just want their children to learn to swim, and it’s been a real pleasure to be able to provide these facilities where communities had lost out on access to pools for their children all together. It’s been a huge relief and a really nice feeling to get back to business properly again. It was a huge challenge to get the funding together after going through such a difficult couple of years, and finding the buildings isn’t easy and going through all of the logistics of setting up a swimming pool isn’t an easy process. But they’re not 25m swimming pools, they are teaching tanks for children so it’s easier than if we were building full leisure centres. We’ve also recently partnered with JD Gyms so to have them as our funding partner and such an established and well respected brand like JD involved, has been an absolute pleasure for us as a business to have that support. When we think that we started out as a little learn to swim programme started by three olympians (Becky’s business partners Adrian Turner and Steve Parry) who love the sport and now we are working with such an industry leader such as JD it’s amazing to think how far we have come!”

Becky Adlington OBE

What do you think is harder – being a parent or running a business?

“I think both definitely come with different challenges! For us as well because we have quite a big age gap between the kids, as there are six years between Summer and Albie, so it was kind of like starting again. When I arrived I realised that I had totally forgotten the newborn stage! Which is mad, but I think your brain does something to remove it otherwise you would never do it again!” [We all laugh!] “I had six months maternity with Albie, which felt quite short really for me and it was hard going back to work, and it was really difficult because when I had Summer I had a lot more time with her and when I did go back to work I only went back part time. So it was hard returning to work after I had Albie and working full time, I suppose I felt guilty because of how I did it with Summer first time around. But then I thought to myself that I think most people do things differently second time around anyway and circumstances change and you have to do what is right for you at that time. I obviously co-parent Summer with her Dad and so we had to find a way to co-parent that suits us all. Whereas now with Albie I’m married and we all live in the same house together so it’s different this time around, as the first time I had a baby it was mainly just me and Summer. But now it’s a totally different dynamic anyway. For instance, when it was just myself and Summer I would put her to bed and then I would just be sat on my own, whereas now when the kids are in bed me and my husband can have that time to have an adult conversation and watch some adult television – I don’t mean it like that! [We all erupt into laughter!] I mean something like Game of Thrones! [We continue laughing] “In all seriousness though, having that adult time is so valuable.”

What do you think you have learnt most from becoming a mother a second time around? 

“I think because I’ve had my second child but also I think because I’m older now I realise that yes, I’m a mother and obviously that’s really important to me but I’m also a wife and I’m also Becky! I have realised that I also have to go with what ‘Becky’ wants to do at times too, because you do have to put yourself first at times as well as your children, your husband, your sisters, your parents and your business partners. I think when you are juggling so many different roles when you are a parent, especially a parent who is working or running a business, that is the hardest thing to manage, all those different aspects and pleasing everyone else but also learning to please yourself too.” 

A lot of working mums suffer from the dreaded ‘Mum Guilt’ and sometimes judgement from others, what has been your experience of this?

 

“Mum guilt is the worst! I always have Mum guilt! It’s weird because my husband doesn’t get it, he’s always saying ‘what are you talking about? You’ve got nothing to feel guilty about!’ Because his point of view he’s with the kids – as my husband doesn’t work he looks after the kids, which has been a hard dynamic anyway as most of the time other men will say to him ‘Oh, you don’t work? You look after the kids?’ I can’t understand why there are still so many men who don’t understand why other dads want to stay at home and lead with the childcare. Like why? It’s like when people say to me, ‘Oh is your husband at home, is he babysitting the children then?’ and it baffles me because I think ‘no, he’s not babysitting them, he’s their Dad!’ They are his children as well? It’s so weird that people still think that way, because why shouldn’t I work full time when I LOVE my job, and when we had Albie and we looked at all the factors for both me and Andy in terms of salary, job satisfaction, happiness etc, Andy said I really want to be at home with the kids, so if my husband is telling me that and I love my job why would we not make that decision? And it works really well for us, and then at weekends Andy takes the time to do his own thing like play football etc and I’ll be with the kids most of the time, and during the week when I come home I cook the tea and sort the kids out. I still organise everything for our family, and every Sunday night I create a planner for our family so we all know what we are doing and I can go to work knowing everything is under control!” [She laughs] “So it’s 100% a team effort! The thing I refuse to negotiate on, the thing that helps me keep that balance of work and parenting, is to make sure I’m always there for bedtime. I want see my kids every day and obviously there are those odd occasions where I’m not if I’m in London or something, but I always make sure I can spend time with them before they go to bed.”

What tips would you give other working parents who are juggling work and bringing up children?

“I think being organised is definitely something that I need to be in order to stay sane – I’m a bit like Monica in friends!” [We laugh] “For instance with the planner that I do on a Sunday, I use different coloured pens, and we stick that on the fridge! We have an online diary too and that is also colour coordinated, and I make sure everything goes in that diary. So I am very organised. I think there is so much going on each week that it’s one of those things that really helps us and the kids to have that reference. I think that really helped me with that transition of being back at work, so it eases my anxiety too and gives me that peace of mind that the kids aren’t going to miss anything. It also saves me time as I’m not checking in with Andy every two minutes like I was when I first came back to work! Which obviously caused a bit of friction too with Andy, because I wasn’t used to letting go so I think having that system in place has worked really well for us.” 

You can learn more about Rebecca and her swim! business visit: https://www.swim.co.uk

Rebecca Adlington SWIM!
REBECCA ADLINGTON OBE
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