In this month’s ‘Abi Speak’s, our founder Abi shares why she thinks overwhelm has become a common complaint for so many women, and how she tackles it.
The lot of the modern woman is not an easy one. Achieve at work, be a great Mum, support ageing parents, enjoy a perfect marriage, maintain a nice home, never let your social life stall.
We have so many expectations placed on our time and our lives; some by ourselves, many by society, all competing for a limited amount of time.
Even when we do stop to relax, we’re still ‘on’ thanks to the computers we carry in our pockets, alerting us constantly to texts, emails, likes, comments, and updates.
Alongside that, in the last decade, there’s been an explosion in the self-help industry of books and courses designed to help us ‘be the best us. Coaches and gurus and influencers share message after message about how to be better at ‘building our personal brands’.
But we’re humans, not marketing strategies. We’re not designed to be constantly optimised. And the pressure to be ‘on’ all the time just isn’t realistic.
We feel overwhelmed not because there’s something wrong with us, but because it’s overwhelming.
I’ve built a brand in organic skincare that nurtures. And I know with no doubt that as wonderful as I believe our products are, even they are not enough to compensate for the toxic effects of immense stress.
We must let go if we are to enjoy true wellness, outside and in.
What does overwhelm feel like
Overwhelm is that feeling at 2am, when you wake up with your heart in your mouth because you forgot something in the day or can’t immediately solve a problem.
It’s struggling to pick through your mountain of chores and experiencing thoughts in a loop.
It’s going to the shops and coming back with everything but what you needed, but instead of laughing it off, you feel desperation trying to work out how on earth you’re meant to fit in asking for help.
It’s something we all feel from time-to-time, it’s normal but we often hide it from others, in case we’re judged for not having it all together.
Identify the source
There might be lots of things going on, but usually I find it’s one that really tends to stress me out.
The biggie is usually the company. I’m so privileged to run this brilliant organisation with wonderful people. I wake up every day knowing we make a difference, which not everyone can say. But it’s a massive responsibility and there are moments that I really feel that.
I learned to see things in small steps, rather than big challenges. What’s the issue? And how do I start to deal with it. What’s the next step and the next step after that? And who can help?
The most powerful thing we can do when we’re struggling is reach out. Tell someone you’re finding it a bit much and here’s the key bit. Let them help you. Even if help is a glass of wine and a moan.
There are no ‘Superwomen’
One of the first pressures I believe we should let go of above all others is the ‘superwoman’ myth. None of us are superheroes. There are women who achieve incredible things – but they don’t do ALL the things incredibly.
We simply can’t do everything to an amazing standard all of the time. According to Eckhart Tolle, time is elastic – you can imagine that you have more time. Which is great. But you can’t imagine clones of yourself, which is what we’d need to manage all the competing pressures on us.
Good enough is enough. If the kids are fed, the house is not on fire, the work is done and nobody is in crisis, you can rest.
Take care of yourself
It’s not surprising as the owner of a natural beauty brand, that I’d focus on self-care. Take a moment after even a rushed shower to apply your favourite body moisturiser. Breathe in the smell, enjoy the softness – it’s what skincare is for.
Get out and exercise (I like walking, running and occasionally still go orienteering). Follow it up with a soak in a bath.
Nurture yourself with simple foods, cooked well and use supplements if necessary to support your body through periods of stress.
All things come to an end
No matter how stressful a situation is, they all end. Being able to keep that in mind is a key tenet of mental health. Ask yourself, will this problem matter in a week? A month? A year?
When you’re facing your final moments, will the challenges you’re facing now define you? Sometimes the answer is yes, but it’s rare.
‘This too shall pass’ is a cliché but it’s also a brilliant mantra for the overwhelmed woman.