5 Ways to Move Beyond Overwhelm

by Mary Mazzoni on March 31, 2013

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Are you exhausted by everyday stress and unsure of how to help your child plan for the future?

Do you feel confused instead of empowered by all the information available to you?

You’re not alone.

Most parents share these same feelings at different points along the way. But no one wants to stay stuck in overwhelm.

How can you begin moving forward – toward your child’s future goals – and your own?

1. Adjust your own oxygen mask

You’ve heard the airline’s pre-flight instructions:

“Adjust your own oxygen mask before assisting your child.”

Bottom line, your child’s wellness is inextricably linked to your own.

Do you get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat well, and get a bit of movement and fresh air each day?

Do you keep up-to-date with medical check-ups and seek healthcare when you need it?

Do you take time to laugh, breathe, enjoy your child, and notice the beauty around you?

Your first priority is to build wellness into your regular routines – and your child’s.

Plan & Take Action

“Self care is a self-less and strategic act of good parenting”, says pediatrician and resilience expert Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg. If you find yourself resisting the idea that self care is a top priority – read this.

Take tiny steps – one at a time. What small adjustment could you make to your daily routine to nurture your physical and emotional wellness?

Resources here can help you and your child develop an individual wellness plan.

2. Begin with the end in mind

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “Begin with the End in Mind”.

Having a vision for the future clarifies our perspective and helps us set clear priorities. Our child’s goals for the future help us to focus our limited time and energy on what matters most.

Plan & Take Action

The Person Centered Planning section of this site features resources that can help you and your child clarify a vision for the future.

Set some time to read these posts and discuss them with your primary support person. Then plan how you will actively engage your child in setting a vision for the future.

3. Grow a support network

Do you feel isolated? Many parents of kids with disabilities do. Everyday demands make it challenging to develop and maintain relationships. Family members and friends may not understand a child’s unique needs.

Still – you can’t go it alone. No one can. Your child needs a network of relationships – and so do you.

Where to begin?

Plan & Take Action

Start with one person you trust.

Your spouse, significant other, a close friend, family member, or a counselor.

One person who is willing and able to Listen to You. 

Schedule time to regularly meet with this person.

During your time together:

  • clarify your long term goals
  • reflect on and celebrate progress you and your child have made
  • set a small goal for the coming week and plan how you’ll reach it
  • monitor your self care
  • identify ways you can expand your personal network

Some ways to consider broadening and nurturing personal networks:

  • Schedule time to participate in a faith community or other group of interest to you
  • Find ways your child can contribute to organizations he or she cares about
  • Identify small things others can do to support you – and ask them for their help
  • Online and in-person parent support groups can be helpful – but beware of forums in which complaining or blaming dominate discussions. If you find yourself simmering in negative energy – perhaps it’s not the best group for you.

Like a perennial flower garden, personal networks take time to mature and blossom. We can intentionally nurture them along the way. You’ll find posts with more ideas here.

4. Consume information wisely

The vast sea of information available to you can be either empowering or paralyzing.

Rather than taking in all the information that comes to you through social media, Google searches, or other sources, discern what information is truly helpful. Then, put that information to work toward your child’s goals.

Plan & Take Action

Ask yourself some questions about information, before you choose to consume it.

  • Is the information related to my child’s present or future needs and goals?
  • What is the motivation of the information source?
  • What are the credentials of the information source?
  • Is there a research base for suggested strategies?
  • Is this information I need at this time?

If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, you can choose to put the information aside and review it with another person.

If you’ve discerned the information to be credible and related to your child’s needs and goals, you can bookmark it and decide when you will choose to read or view it.

Consider a multi-step method of consuming credible information that is related to your goals:

  • Read/view it at a time when you can give it full attention
  • Read/view it again  - making notes about potential action steps
  • Review your notes and plan next steps to take action on the information
  • Bookmark the information
  • After taking initial steps, return to the information to plan further action

Often, it helps to review the information and action steps with another person.

5. Start to move

Momentum is powerful!

A small step in the right direction creates energy for the next step.

Plan & take action

If you’re feeling stuck:

  • focus on a goal
  • take one small step toward it
  • notice and celebrate progress
  • take the next small step

Research shows that people are most successful when they tell someone else about their goals and their plans, and when they regularly connect with that person for accountability and encouragement.

You may want to use a graphic organizer to develop action plans. (More details about doing this with your child in this post).

Remember – one tiny step toward your goal begins positive momentum!

Your turn

What do you think about these strategies? Do you have other tips for getting “unstuck” and moving toward future goals?

Please leave a comment below – or send an email. Let’s learn from and support each other along the way!

If you found this post helpful – please share it. Thanks!

I celebrate each step you and your child take toward what matters most to you.

Graphic credits – Sign by  Colin_K , Hands by Aidan Jones, Hiking by maciekSz - all at Flickr

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie Montijo April 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

Excellent. Great tips, but how to implement? I WANT to.


Mary Mazzoni April 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Hi Laurie,
Wanting to do something is always an important first step, isn’t it?
That “wanting to” can be the beginning of momentum. One small step leads to another.

Maybe you’d like to start by talking with one person you trust and selecting one step you’d like to take in the coming week. For example – what small thing could you do to care for yourself? Something small. Drinking a certain amount of water. Pausing twice a day to breathe deeply and look at the sky. Taking a brief walk. Or something else that is meaningful for you. Just one small thing to start. Talk with this primary support person. How did you do with your one small self care step? Is there something else you’d like to start doing? It’s amazing to see how even tiny steps toward self care begin positive momentum that help us feel less stuck.

If you’d like, email me (click on white envelope in sidebar) to ask about different “person centered planning” strategies that can help you and your child develop a vision for the future. Different strategies are suited to kids with different skills and interests – but the goal is to “begin with the end in mind” – and focus on what matters most to both of you.

We all need to walk this journey with at least one person we trust who is wiling to listen – and willing to research possibilities and ask questions along the way. None of us can walk this journey alone. Though I can’t be your primary support person – I’m always happy to respond to any questions you may want to email along the way.

Please care well for yourself – so you can listen to and support your child.
I look forward to hearing from you along the way. Blessings!


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