Until 2019, I never placed the term “mental load” upon anything. Call it stress, exhaustion, blah blah blah…. call the whambulance (as Dave Ramsey would say). Recently, though, I saw a cartoon depicting a mom’s “mental load” and though, I’m obviously not a mom, nor even a parent, I almost head an audible cartoonish DING. Lightbulb moment. YES! I KNOW THIS FEELING! Certainly, the scenarios are totally different, and Yes, my view of mental load is different than the author intended. But it got me thinking.
Today was unique. I had a random Thursday off. Usually my weeks are stable around 40 hours, but the days can be long. With commute, every day is about 12 hours – give or take for the almost certain crashes all around Dallas on days that end in “y.” Today, is a great day, but I began thinking of a day when things didn’t quite go the way I planned
Several weeks ago, on a similar day off, I had a simple task: wake up, clean the apartment, schedule a body shop visit for the car (huge shout out to the uninsured motorist), figure out IRA contributions for 2018 taxes, read…. that’s all. That is literally it. But I had a meltdown. I couldn’t think straight. It was so bad I began to wonder if I needed to get my vitals checked. I was frozen to accomplishing anything. What was going on? Brain fog, stress, blood pressure? … why do I seem locked up?
I naturally have things I want to accomplish in a day – all of which are influenced by the things I have needed to do for days, or even weeks. At work I have tasks that must be done – my daily-non-negotiables. At home, the cooking, cleaning, and resting – these all must be done as well. Yes, resting is a non-negotiable in my opinion..and should remain a priority. I realized that when I feel the mental load creeping in, it’s because I’m allowing something outside my realm of control to influence my inner emotional stability. How to I combat this? Checklists? Nope.
I’ve even realized that checklists don’t help those moments of overwhelm. In my experience, a checklist isn’t a great basis for productivity, or even a reflection of productivity at the end of the day. In a perfect world, the most important items should be listed at the top of the said checklist, however, only those items that first came to mind when I was making the checklist actually became “important.” What about shutting down any “extra” activities in my life? Nope.
Let me tell you how that worked out. NOT WELL. I isolate. Become irritable and take that with me everywhere. If I don’t show up irritable to others, I’m just miserable inside. So, yeah, never mind. Don’t try that.
What I write next will seem nauseating – only because we hear the “pros” telling us this all the time. But I’ve found it to be true.
When I embrace a daily gratitude practice (even when I’m pissed) and seek after contentment with where I am today in work and life, only then does my production at work go up, happiness at home increase, and emotional stability remain balanced – day in and day out.
That’s my experience. Thanks for letting me share.