“When you are resting because you are worn out, you need to remember that you are not wasting time. You are doing exactly what you need to do. You are recovering.” ~Unknown
I woke up at 3am when I heard my alarm ring. I slowly pulled my arm away from my son, who was half holding my arm and half lying on it, so that he didn’t wake up. I tip-toed out of bed while my husband and my son were sleeping.
My eyes ached and were blurry from sleep deprivation. My head felt like I was floating in the air. But even so, I couldn’t sleep any longer.
Knowing that just in a few hours, I would have another fully busy day at work, with deadlines all over my head, and I’d have to deal with all the mails marked “urgent” yesterday before getting to today’s mail.
My sleepiness went away quickly as I started to feel butterflies in my stomach. Not in a good way.
The deadlines, the rush and anxiety, all kicked in. I felt like I wanted to cry. And so I did a little.
But I felt like I shouldn’t feel that way, that I should be grateful instead.
The whole pandemic gave people hell. And I am so lucky that my family is safe, and we are doing fine.
My husband could not work for six months, and I have been the sole provider since. But I am lucky that I still have a job.
Compared with how other people go through their days, I should be grateful.
But on a wild thought, I just wanted to open my laptop and send a resignation mail right away.
Because I was tired.
I was tired of being the sole provider.
I was tired of trying and pushing so hard.
I was tired of taking care of other people.
I was tired of getting tired but not being able to sleep.
I was tired of getting up so early alone.
I was tired of working at different jobs all the time.
I was tired of not getting enough breaks or not saying “screw it.”
But I can’t. I have a family to take care of, I have a little boy to worry about.
Being strong, being resilient is the only choice I have.
So I turn on some music when feeling lonely, wipe my own tears when having a mental breakdown. Tell myself to stay strong, and always keep going forward.
But today, I woke up and realized, I don’t have to feel that way.
Life gives me responsibilities not to break me down. Responsibilities are the sublimation of love.
Because of love, I wake up early and work while others are still sleeping.
Because of love, I agree to do different jobs to be able to take care of my loved ones.
Because of love, I need to take care of myself first.
Because not only do I love them, but they also love me and want me to be happy.
I realize I am not a superhero that never makes a mistake. I am a human being. I screw up sometimes. I oversleep sometimes. I miss deadlines sometimes. I act stupidly sometimes. I get lazy sometimes.
And it is okay.
It is okay for me to slow down and take a deep breath.
It is okay to take a break so that I don’t get burnt out.
It is okay to make mistakes and say “I don’t know” with pride.
It is okay to know that I cannot control every single aspect in my life, and the good thing is I don’t have to.
Because that’s how unexpected things happen. That’s the fun of life.
And I know there is always a place that I belong and find peace: my home, my family, my heart.
If you are like me, feeling the world is fighting against you, here are a few simple ways to find calm in the chaos.
1. Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath.
I learned this technique through one of Louise Hay’s books. You take a deep breath, tense your body as hard as you can, and hold it for a few seconds. Then release and exhale.
Do it a few times whenever you feel worried or stressed. The butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling quickly dissolves.
2. Find a peaceful place.
No, you don’t have to call your boss to ask for an immediate vacation on a beach, nor do you have to go to the bathroom and cry (though you can do either if you think it would help).
Look inside yourself and find your peaceful place—or person.
Who do you love? Who do you do this for? Remember, responsibility is the sublimation of love.
When I’m at work and I am about to have a panic attack, after taking a few deep breaths, I pull out my son’s videos and pictures. I remind myself that I love him, and he loves me no matter what.
He gives me a reason to believe that I am worthy and I am loved and gives me the strength and motivation to keep going.
3. Meditate daily, even just for five minutes.
I learned that meditation is not about clearing your mind and thinking of nothing; it is about accepting who you are and not letting your wild thoughts control you.
Don’t worry about learning how to meditate, just sit down in stillness as an act of love for yourself. Be present, aware of your thoughts.
You will soon realize that meditation helps to untangle your thoughts so you don’t feel controlled by the chaos in your life.
4. Thank yourself.
Have you done it today? Have you thanked yourself for all the good you do and stopped to think about how proud of yourself you are?
Look at how amazing you are taking care of your loved ones, how their lives are much better because of you, or how brave you are in all the things you do, or even how you are aware of this moment. There are thousands of reasons to be proud of yourself.
Most of us focus more on what we think we’re doing wrong than all the things we’re doing right, and this creates a constant sense of anxiety. If you give yourself a little credit instead, you’ll likely feel instant relief. So remember to thank yourself at every chance you get.
When life gets busy and overwhelming, it’s tempting to think you can’t relax until everything gets easier. That you need to escape or make it all stop, which generally isn’t an option. Fortunately, we don’t have to make major life changes or run away to find a little peace.
Calm is not when you are at the beach enjoying a drink. Calm is right there in the middle of the storm. Calm is in your heart.
About Mai Pham
Mai Pham is a proud mom of a little beautiful boy. As a first-time mom, she understands the pressure of raising a little human being when you are not a perfect person. She helps other first-time moms to release stress, trust their instinct, and to enjoy their moments. She runs Mommy Instinct, where she shares her journey, guides, tips, and things she uses to boost her parenting.