When we scroll through our social media feed, seeing images of seemingly ‘perfect lives’, we can add unnecessary pressure onto ourselves to be ‘living our best life’ , looking like ‘we’ve got it all together’ and keeping up appearances….
We may challenge ourselves to stay positive, and to keep on going- which to a degree is great, but it’s also really healthy to acknowledge the feelings of overwhelm sometimes, and to give ourselves a chance to just ‘let go.’
We live in a society where wanting ‘more’….. being ‘better’ ….having material belongings, perfect homes, well paid jobs , thriving businesses , balanced diets, fulfilling relationships and idyllic families is the standard expectation, or the holy grail. These somewhat unrealistic expectations are often put upon us by the thousands of notifications that reach us each day, the newspaper headlines, the gossip mags, the instagram feed…. so much so that we can blur the lines between life online and physical reality. We can find ourselves feeling inadequate or inferior because of unhealthy comparisons.
We don’t always see what goes on behind the lens. For every perfectly curated photo on your social media feed , there will be a back story. We may not see the lifelong journey of struggling with fitness behind the chiseled abs, the pain of miscarriage behind a smiling face or the credit card debts and bank loads behind the ‘dream holiday.’ But the irrational part of our brain forgets about all of that, and can leave us longing for more, putting ourselves down and questioning our worth.
You may feel a certain pressure to always paint on a smile in whatever you do. But sometimes we can become a victim of ‘Toxic positivity’ The phrase Toxic positivity is the culture of portraying yourself as happy no matter what. Trying to be permanently positive can leave ourselves closed to acknowledging our full spectrum of emotions, and lead us to overwhelm when we eventually realise that we cant always ‘do it all.’ We are NOT failures for needing to cry, or for struggling in certain aspects of our lives. I’m not saying that we should spend all of our time focusing on our fears and worries (as that’s not healthy either) But to allow ourselves to find a balance, and to know that its healthy to experience a range of different emotions.
Think about the old phrase ‘Big boys don’t cry’ and how damaging that is to Men’s mental health, or the British stiff upper lip approach of ‘keep calm and carry on.’ It can make an individual feel that it is wrong to cry, or to struggle instead of reaching out and seeking the support that they so truly deserve.
Take motherhood as an example. With so many opinions flying around, its almost impossible to ‘get it right’. If you allow yourself to, you can feel judged for the way you birth your child, how you choose to feed them and the name that you’ve picked for them…. even before you’ve made it back home. Many mums carry the pressures of holding down a household, children, work and relationships, let alone the pressures of body image , sleep deprivation, hormones and comparison to the unattainable title of ‘superwoman’ that we chase. We are given so many conflicting opinions on weaning, carrying, sleeping arrangements, education choices and parenting styles, that it can leave us confused and exhausted. And yet we are told to just ‘get on with it.’
So this is where I make a stand. Its OK to drop the facade. Its OK to sit and eat icecream infront of a soppy film if you need to, to cry tears of frustration because you feel touched out, to take a nap instead of doing the washing up. Its OK to take time off social media because comparison is getting the better of you, Its OK to ask for help if you feel that you aren’t coping. Its OK to stop, pause and to try again tomorrow. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE PERFECT. YOU NEED TO BE YOU!
If you’re having an ‘off day’ why not try some of the below suggestions to help process your emotions, and give you some headspace.
- Talk to someone. Sometimes this can be easier said that done, but reaching out to a trusted friend, family member or health professional can help you put things into perspective, and come up with a longer term plan if you’re finding yourself constantly overwhelmed. Don’t feel that you need to face everything alone.
- Take a walk (alone if possible.) Often when we feel overwhelmed, we just need to disconnect from the ‘noise’ that’s going on around us, and immerse ourselves in nature for a while. A walk outside can not only provide welcome distraction and a change of scenery, but also trigger the release of endorphines to boost our mood.
- Write down your thoughts. Whether they are positive or negative, writing down our thoughts can help us to process our feelings, and very often will then trigger the rational part of our brain to come up with a solution, or a more balanced point of view. Writing can also allow us to escape our reality, or un-muddle the chaos in our mind. Journalling and gratitude practice can be very theraputic.
- Practice self care. This can look different to everyone, it could be anything from drinking a glass of water, going for a run, reading a book, meditating, taking a bath or slathering on a facemask. Doing something for yourself reinforces your self worth and can boost self esteem. For more information on wellbeing and self care for mums, click here.