Got mommy brain? I hope you’ll enjoy the third post in this series on choosing rest. Check out the first two posts: 1. Feeling Overwhelmed? Choose Rest for a More Peaceful Life and 2. Always Tired? How To Choose Rest for Your Body.
If you want to learn more about how to choose rest and get updates to the series as they come out, be sure to sign up for the Choose Rest Challenge by clicking below!
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On any given day, I have been known to misplace my keys, phone, wallet, purse, watch, glasses and a number of small accessories. I find myself spacing out during important conversations and making thoughtless decisions. And like many women in my station in life, I identify a single culprit.
Mommy brain: The phenomenon known to mothers where their brains become useless piles of goo after being around their children for too long (Urban Dictionary).
Funny as it is, there is actually scientific evidence that overstimulation, in combination with sleep deprivation (again, see Part 2 of this series), does in fact turn your brain into a useless pile of goo as far as intellectual capacity is concerned.
Not only do we have the normal pressures of stress and sleep deprivation that just come with the role, modern moms have another factor working against them. What do you do when you have a moment of breathing room in the middle of your day? I’ll admit it: I reach for my phone.
But it’s like drinking saltwater when I’m already dehydrated. While there’s nothing wrong with checking in with an app or a message, it does little to nothing to provide the recharge that my heart and mind desperately need. What’s more, it can actually hurt me.
- Excessive social media use interferes with clear thinking and decision-making and leads to lower self-control, impulsive buying and poor eating decisions.
- It’s also associated with higher BMI, binge eating, a lower credit score and credit card debt.
- “Milkshake multitasking” (specifically overstimulation from screens) prevents focused thought, which opens us to shallow judgments and decisions, along with passive mindlessness. (Source: Switch On Your Brain by Caroline Leaf)
Related post: Social Media Addiction: 20 Strategies To Break It
To sum it up, we have a lot of factors working against us. That’s why we need to be very mindful about how we combat mental overstimulation in our hectic lives.
How to Banish Mommy Brain
I’ll be clear: electronics or being around our kids 24/7 isn’t the heart of the problem.
The problem is not prioritizing rest for our hearts and minds (in addition to more sleep).
It’s called wakeful rest. You’re not asleep, but your mind is disengaged from stimulation. You might be surprised at just how refreshing it is to just give your mind permission to wander.
Amazing things can happen when you daydream. (Personally, this is why I enjoy a looooong shower). Your brain processes everything that is jostling around in there. You start solving problems and having original ideas. You can approach the next task without feeling completely taxed.
If you don’t have that space, your brain can’t process all that it’s taking in over a given day (or longer). Combine this with sleep deprivation, and you have a guaranteed recipe for chronic mommy brain.
Sidenote: you might want to retain a little control when your mind wanders. If you’re prone to depression and anxiety, I suggesting learning practices for guiding your thoughts in positive and productive directions.
Related post: How I Manage Anxiety with 5 Calming Steps
Remember that leaving space for mental rest also gives you opportunity to pray and surrender all of your thoughts to God. Be sure to stay tuned for Part 4 of this series to learn more about that.
Strategies for Mental/Emotional Rest
I know it’s hard to practice this kind of rest. I’m a work-at-home, homeschooling mom; quiet time for my mommy brain seems like an impossible dream on some days.
But here are a few suggestions for creating that much-needed space:
- Have set hours in your daily schedule when screens are off and phones are out of reach.
- Turn off your phone’s app notifications.
- When your mind is feeling taxed, give yourself permission to just stop what you’re doing and reflect or pray for a few minutes before continuing on with your task.
- Leave space in your daily schedule for breathing room. Don’t just jam as many tasks as possible into your limited free time. (Not sure where to fit it in? See How a 7-Day Time Log Helped Me Get My Daily Schedule Under Control)
- Ask for help when you feel like your head is going to explode. Have your husband or another friend or family member watch your kids for as little as ten minutes so you can get some time to think and reset.
- Find an enjoyable, restful activity outside of scrolling through your phone that you can do during down times, whether that’s listening to music, crocheting, gardening, cooking, etc.
For me, the biggest change I have made personally in this area is simply giving myself permission to stop and rest my busy mind. And because it’s a priority, I make sure that I have breathing room in my daily schedule.
Need help making rest a priority in your life? Sign up for the Choose Rest Challenge and get notified when the next posts in these series come out.
Next week, we’ll be talking about how to choose rest spiritually.
Leave a comment: do you suffer from “mommy brain”? Which of these strategies do you think can help you choose rest for your heart and mind?
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