Have you heard about the mental load and how if affects our physical and mental health? And even your weight? Excess stress increases the release of the stress hormone cortisol which is responsible for that hard to shift stubborn belly fat.
The MIND.BODY connection explores how the weight and load that we are carrying mentally is related to external weight and load that we have in our everyday lives. Shape shifting our internal environment can have a positive impact on shape shifting our external weight.
If you have exhausted the diets and exercises regimes, explored your weight story but still haven’t shifted your excess kg’s then this is a deeper layer to work through.
The mental load is not something that you can see. You can visually see the “load” of paperwork that needs some attention or the “load” of washing that needs putting on but the mental load is a silent ninja and even though is out of sight it doesn’t mean that it is out of mind, in fact quite the opposite it is controlling our mind and adding additional “weight” to our daily life.
What is the mental load?
The mental load is the running commentary of all the jobs that are on replay in your mind, it is invisible and permanent!
The mental load could look something like this….
Coordinating the kids after school activities, homework, school projects, snacks, dinners, schedules, uniform, kit bag, play dates, medical appointments while trying to put boundaries in place, teaching them the value of healthy eating, good manners through parenting while trying to keep calm and relatively sane!
Then lets throw into the mix the household chores such as constant monitoring of detergent levels and loo roll, meal planning, writing shopping lists, food shopping, cooking for fussy kids while trying to eat healthily yourself, keeping on top of laundry, house hold admin, school admin (answering what feels like 500 emails), paying bills, tidying the house, ironing, cleaning or organisation of cleaner, cleaning after the cleaner, cleaning after the kids, cleaning the floor for what feels like the 500th time that week, cleaning the toilet after the kids, picking up towels and socks from the floor and putting them in the wash basket…..
Now throw into the mix BUSINESS, CAREERS, WORKING… so many women are working while doing the above and even are starting their own business whilst juggling the kids, household chores, self care….
The mental work load adds to this with admin, emails, time management, finances/book keeping, website updates, social media, marketing, networking, content and soooo much more…..
Then self care/relationships (usually last on the list!) and trying to find time for…. a date night with your hubby/partner, a run or trip to the gym, eating well, to hang out with friends, supporting friends / family through hard times, meditation, having a bath, relaxing, unwinding…. Again, so much more…..
The mental load has no respect for boundaries or downtime, you might be sitting on the sofa for a bit of rest but your mind isn’t resting its checking off a mental list of jobs from your day and thinking about the day ahead tomorrow. It might look like you are taking some time out physically but mentally you are still in overdrive running several internal projects at once.
Delegating seems like the logical thing to do here with partner and kids being the obvious candidates however after the long explanation, questions, step by step run through, further questions/resistance the exhaustion of all of this makes you think “I might as well done it myself” – this goes onto to add more to your mental load.
Here are some tools to help you
- Delegate the small stuff. Write a list of all your daily tasks, then go through your list and assess importance, do they really ALL need doing daily? What can you let go of? Cross off what doesn’t need to be there. Then highlight anything that can be delegated, can your kids take responsibility for their bedrooms? Does it really matter if they are not tidied daily? What can your husband do? Can you write a list of chores your re delegating and commit to chasing them up until they are learnt? Remember to factor in time to chase them, you might want to focus on one family member per week rather than all at the same time.
- Drop your standards. This might feel uncomfortable as you are used to a certain standard and could even be a perfectionist in some (or all of your ways) but is this REALLY worth the mental stress? Consider stepping back and the possibility that when you do this someone else might actually step up! For me my breaking point for dropping my standards was when we got a family puppy, my mental load increased 10 fold so I was forced to let things go and was amazed that life continued perfectly fine when my standards had dropped, yup thats right, nothing suffered as much as I thought it would, life went on!
- Learn to say NO. Having boundaries in place is a MUST for relieving your mental load as constantly saying YES to everyone and everything adds both a physical and mental load and leaves you feeling both physically and mentally exhausted. Practice saying NO to small things, question whether what you are being asked is going to serve you or your immediate family, even if you say YES (it can sometimes be a automatic response) don’t be scared to go back and say NO (politely of course!). It is also worth remembering that you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone as to why you are saying NO so practice saying NO with just a meaningful smile.
I hope this blog has helped you explore your mental load, please comment below and let me know…..
Thanks for reading x