The holiday season is officially upon us and our schedules are busier than ever. No, I’m not just saying that because it’s a common phrase this time of year. I truly think the holiday season gets busier and busier each year! It’s the time of year that’s supposed to be jolly and full of cheer, but for most mothers, it turns into stress, busyness and mental/physical exhaustion. Raise your hand if you agree. We can try our absolute best to create stillness in our daily rituals, but sometimes, even that isn’t enough. This is when asking for help comes in handy. I know even reading that sends chills up your spine, but hear me out on this: asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of your mindfulness.
Asking for help is just not in my blood. I’m one of six children, I’m a middle child, I’m independent, as is my mother, so let’s just say, this was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Just thinking of the holiday season last year makes me want to cringe. I was a new mom, two years into marriage with an unhealthy obsession of trying to please everyone, even if it meant sacrificing myself…and that is exactly what happened. I ran myself into the ground, got the flu twice, lost a lot of hair, went mindfully numb, became incredibly discontent, easily angered and had zero energy. Yikes, you should see my face as I typed that out. It was bad, bad, bad. When people tried to help, I turned them away because I was too dang prideful. This whole “I can do it myself” mentality was so toxic that it caused harm to not only me but everyone around me.
So, how did I change that mindset? Well, reality hit me in the face when I was trying to help a good friend of mine through a difficult stage of life. I kept offering my time, my food, my words and she would not accept it. I was beyond frustrated with her pride and arrogance. How could she turn me down like that? Oh. Wait. That’s me, that’s exactly what I was doing. You could say it was quite the humbling experience. What a fool I was to think I could do it on my own. And, how silly was I to think they were judging me? I mean, I know for a fact everyone who offered to help had been in my shoes before and honestly, they were just trying to love me. It’s truly amazing to see what your own thoughts will do to your life. I desperately needed to change my thoughts and do so quickly.
*side note: I broke up with a kind boy in high school by giving him that lecture. “I’m breaking up with you, you need to change your thoughts and ultimately your life. Goodbye”. Worst human award goes to me. I didn’t even follow that lecture myself. Humbled. Truly humbled. Lol.*
THE ASKING PART
Okay, so my thoughts became a bit more manageable and shall I say, “healthy”, but the next step was rather difficult. How do I even ask for help? Luckily, I had a few months of stillness to stew on how I was going to make my fall and winter a bit more manageable.
(My husband works for 7-8 months out of the year in one city and we return to St. Louis for the remainder of the year, so yes, I had time to think.) What it all boiled down to was proper communication with others and with myself. On top of that, I had a very kind friend tell me to prioritize myself and to make room for my own needs and thoughts. Wow, I had never heard that before, but I took it to heart and things began to change for me.
Of course, it took some time to figure out how to start living out this new “asking for help” chapter of life, but I had to start somewhere! Here I am today, almost a year later, and I’m in control of my life more than ever before. Not in an unhealthy way, but in a way that gives me more time to work on myself, to fulfill my own needs and ultimately brings more peace to my life. Now, I never want to sound like I have the answers, I don’t! I’m a firm believer that health, mindfulness and lifestyles look different for everyone. With that being said, below are the steps I took to get to where I am today, a momma who has the freedom to live her life, meet her needs and still loves her children and husband lots, if not more than ever before. Read it, trash it, pick up a few pointers, laugh, cry, whatever you need, doll. This is your time. Also, thanks for being here, I really appreciate it <3. Okay, moving on.
LEARNING TO ASK FOR HELP
1. No more numbing. I had to get rid of my bad habit of numbing my mind just to get things done. You should have seen me when I listened to a meditation that asked me how I was, but not just in a passer-by way. She made me dig deep. It was one of the most difficult questions I had been asked in months. I literally had no answer, I hadn’t thought of myself in so long that I truly had no idea how I was. Listen to what your heart, mind and body are telling you, they are more intelligent than you think.
2. Create a schedule. Incorporating more routine in my life made it easier on not just me, but to all those who were helping me. I went through a stage where I would just spring up random requests from people and it just wasn’t the right way to do it. I was making it way too burdensome for others.
3. Simplify. A large part of my breakdown was that I was trying to do too much. What could I drop from my schedule, closet, kitchen, mind? It’s still an ongoing process (insert desperate looking emoji). But, I started that process and I’m in a much healthier spot than last year. Positives. Must dwell on the positives. Ha.
4. Communicate clearly and TRUTHFULLY. I had to begin by getting real with myself. For much too long, I didn’t leave any space in my mind to see my exhaustion and my body’s cry for a break. Once I added some stillness into my life (meditation, early mornings), I was able to unlock those hidden emotions. Following the process of communicating to myself, I had to make sure I was able to communicate truthfully to those whom I needed help from. Whether it be my husband, sister, mom, mother-in-law, I needed to ask with a humble and honest heart for their help. The response I received was beautiful. They came running. Not because they felt bad, but because they loved me and wanted to show it.
5. Gratitude. Finishing up that last step gave me the chills. I am truly so grateful to have people around me who want to love me and are willing to walk through the difficult moments of life with me. I never want to take that for granted, and I make sure they know that. My helpers are the ones who give me the time to create space for more joy, stillness and self-care, all things that I desperately need as a mom. I thank them often.
It’s amazing what reflecting and writing will do to my heart. This post means a lot to me, as this is a life lesson that has truly changed my life. One of the coolest parts about this “asking for help” mantra is that I’ve noticed I’m more willing to help and serve others than ever before. It’s just part of the beautiful cycle the Lord so graciously designed. When others serve me, I want to serve right back.
Good luck this holiday season, friends. I will be thinking of you and praying for your peace, humility and ability to ask for help. Enough of the numbing. Enough of the passive-egressive jealousy towards your husband who seems to have it easier than you. Enough of the short, stressful breathing. Ask for help. We need it and that’s perfectly okay. Ask and watch your joy, time and peace overflow. It’s a beautiful thing to ask for help and if there is anyone who makes you feel silly for doing so, kindly scratch them off your list of helpers…with a sharpie.