when the little things add up to too much

Sometimes life can be weirdly hard for no real reason. Not like, “my world is coming to an end as I know it and my heart is breaking.” hard, but just kind of a stuck in a funk and a mixture of feeling both overly emotional and completely detached. For a long time I genuinely thought that these times in life that I heard people talk about or experienced for myself were avoidable and not even worth putting much stock into. Just push through, spend some extra time in prayer, determine to be happy and not succumb to the blah and everything will be fine and dandy. I’m learning as I get older that it isn’t that simple.

For one, I think there are a lot of things that cause us small amounts of stress and anxiety that we don’t even realize. I’m not a naturally anxious person and not much really stresses me out, but there are little things in life that just kind of subtly add up and the next thing I know, I’m feeling it. Things like an extra whiny kid day after day, sleepless nights that feel like they’ll never end, nursing struggles, a death in the family, a friend or spouse going through a stressful time, not taking care of myself physically, the list goes on and on. Like, yes it’s hard but we know it’ll get better and everyone else has survived these same things so it’s “fine.” Except it isn’t.

So what to do? What’s the answer when you can’t even really exactly pinpoint the problem? What do you do to get back to feeling like yourself and being your best for your family, friends, and self? Here’s what I’m learning.

My tribe. We’ve added three babies to the group since this picture was taken and we’re all still 110% there for one another.

Number One: You’re not alone. There is absolutely never, ever any shame in sharing with a friend about how you’re feeling. Chances are, they may be able to pinpoint what’s going on better than you can. Even if they can’t “help” though, a loving friend with a listening ear is more powerful than most of us realize and chances are they will be honored to share in your trial with you and you may even open a door that allows them to share with you as well. Don’t be scared. Know you’re truly loved.

This time was so full of meltdowns and endless nursing. I so regret not telling someone how defeated I was feeling or sad I was about that.

Next: Be kind to yourself. I’ve talked before about my feelings on “self care” and a little about what that should and shouldn’t look like, but I’m not really talking about that here. What I mean is that you can love yourself like Jesus loves you- just think of that. You’re valuable and worth investing in. Don’t get all the dishes done before bed time? Show yourself a little grace and make rest a priority- the dishes can wait. Realize it’s 2pm and you’ve had nothing but coffee all day? Drop whatever you’re doing and fuel your body with real food. Maybe you’re on day three of staying in the house because getting dressed and all the kids out the door is just so exhausting and so much work- text a friend and ask them to come over, even if the house is a disaster. Whatever your struggle, make time to be kind to your body and mind.

Last deployment when I flew with both kids by myself. I sent this picture to Josh and he said, “You look so tired.” and he had no idea how right he was.

Last: do not underestimate the power of quiet time. It can be easy to crash at the end of the day and veg out on Netflix for three hours after the kids go to bed. We want something mindless and distracting that involves zero effort because our entire day has just been so draining. Or, we sleep until we just absolutely have to get up because we’re exhausted and know the day is going to be full of trials and frustration. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking doing nothing is the solution to not feeling bad in the middle of doing everything. Instead, take twenty minutes and spend some time intentionally sitting quietly and read, pray, memorize scripture, make a list of the good things in your life, take some deep breaths and remind yourself of God’s goodness to you. Whether it means getting up before the kids or sacrificing your chill time in the evenings, take some time to recharge with real mental and spiritual fuel that will actually help you throughout your day. It seems small, but those little moments can add up to some major patience, grace, and love for you to experience and in turn give to others when you and they need it most.

Life will always be full of distractions, bad things happening, seasons of life we’d rather skip, and more. Rather than letting those things rule our days, lets decide to proactively arm ourselves with tools that can help us take on challenges with our best foot forward. It doesn’t mean every day is a good day or that we’re happy all the time, it just means we’re deciding to not let the bad days accumulate to equal our entire life.

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