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Tips to lighten your mental load

Updated: Oct 4, 2023



Summer has come and gone, the kids have been back to school for at least a month, fall activities are in full swing…and you’re exhausted, physically and mentally.


Raise your virtual hand if any of this is true:


● You feel responsible for every detail of your family’s life.

● You feel like you're being pulled in 50 directions.

● You’re tired of being “busy” and want some downtime.

● You feel guilty when you finally take time for yourself.


I get it!


We put a ton of pressure on ourselves to do it all, to do things perfectly, to be everything to everyone. We’re caught in a tug-of-war between wanting to be “present” and the urge to tick off all the boxes on our never-ending to-do lists. And, no matter what we choose, we may still feel stressed, overwhelmed, and guilty; sometimes it feels as if we’re never doing “enough”.


It’s no wonder that these mental gymnastics leave us exhausted!


I’m a working mom with a busy family life and I’ve felt the weight of this mental load too. My brain sometimes defaults into unhelpful negative self-talk, but this isn’t my norm anymore and it doesn’t have to be yours either.


Let’s walk through some strategies to harness your self-talk, change your perspective, and lighten your mental load.

Let’s use the example of “Asking for, and accepting, help” {this is just one way we can reduce our mental load and feel better}.


1. Be aware of the thoughts that aren’t serving us.


I used to think I had to do it all, or do it by myself, or do it all perfectly.


“If I don’t do it, no one will.”

“It has to be done a certain way.”

“It’ll just be quicker if I do it myself.”

“I’d accept help, but they’ll do it wrong (or it’ll take too long).”

“It’s my job to make sure all of this happens.”

“I *should* be able to do all of this.”


Sound familiar?


Those thoughts aren’t serving us and they lead us to feel stress, anxiety, guilt, and shame.


2. Challenge our thoughts.


These are all just thoughts, sentences in our brain, not facts. Our brain believes them to be true because we’ve thought them over and over again. But, when we question them, we can poke holes in our “story”:


Is this true?

How do I know it’s true?

Why am I choosing to think this thought?

What else could be true?


3. Shift our perspective.


We can consider that there may be other thoughts that might be more helpful, by asking ourselves the question, “What can I think instead?”


Here’s are some examples of how we can adjust our mindset and perspective:


“I don’t have to do this all on my own.”

“There’s more than one right way to do something.”

“Not everything deserves a spot on my calendar.”

“I am only one person and I am human.”

“I am doing the best I can and that’s good enough”

“My worth is not determined by how much I accomplish in a day”


Those thoughts {unlike the default thoughts that aren’t helping us} lead us to feel more calm, more peace, less confused, and more confident.


4. Take action from those new thoughts and feelings. Here are some ideas…take what resonates with you and leave the rest.


-Collaborate with your spouse, children or other members of your village to share some of the tasks and responsibilities and DON’T micromanage {me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me}.

  • Start with sharing the problem and engage them in discussing how they might be willing to help and how that can benefit the whole family.

  • There will be grumbling, but stick with it.

  • I’ve learned that involving them in the process can be more helpful than barking out orders and marching around the house swearing under my breath or muttering “I’m the only one who does anything around here”.

-Instead of having to repeatedly ask for help as tasks arise, divvy out responsibility by “task area”. You can lend each other a hand when needed, but each person takes ownership of a specific task area and the mental load that goes along with it.


Here are some examples:

  • Split ownership of your children’s activities, either by activity or by child. In the Smith household, I take soccer and my husband handles baseball. This includes sign-ups for both children, coaching, uniforms and other gear.

  • Split ownership of major household tasks, e.g., my husband handles most of the grocery shopping (e.g., the weekly BJs run) and I handle a majority of the meal planning/prep; on nights that I cook, my husband handles the clean-up and vice versus; I handle the laundry and he’s responsible for the landscaping (he does some himself and hires out some, including the associated leg work).

  • When it comes to dinners…divvy out the nights, including choosing the meal, making sure the ingredients are on hand and cooking the meal (e.g., every Thursday my husband handles dinner, usually a crowd favorite, pasta and sausages).

-We can also foster more independence in our children. Yes, I know it’s usually quicker to do it ourselves, but this will help us AND them in the long-run.

  • Collaborate to address the problem, brainstorm solutions and enforce agreed-upon solutions.

  • Here are two examples that were frequent “pain points” in my house and how we’re managing it:

    • Getting out the door in the morning. Electronics off by a certain time {we use the alarm feature on the Alexa or Google home}. Make a “get ready” list on a whiteboard that they need to run through before heading out the door. Partner with them until it becomes a habit. There are still days when my 10-year-old needs an extra hand but, overall, this approach is freeing up time for me.

    • Always searching for sports uniforms (“Moooommm, where are my soccer socks?”). I hung a closet organizer (~$20 on Amazon) with “cubbies’ for each uniform. It’s not completely foolproof (e.g., when laundry is in the dryer), but we’ve reduced the last-minute scrambling.

I’m not suggesting life will be all rainbows, unicorns and daisies, but we can reduce our mental load, feel better and save time and energy by being more aware of the thoughts that aren’t serving us, challenging those thoughts, shifting our perspective, and taking action.


It takes communication and practice, but it’s worth it to save time and energy {and our sanity ;-}.


Shifting from old patterns might feel uncomfortable at first. Your brain will protest, but nothing has gone wrong and this is totally normal. Approach this as an experiment: be open to ‘trial and error’ and give yourself grace as you learn and practice new things.

If you’re interested in simple, actionable strategies to reduce your mental load and save you time and energy, with the end goal of feeling less overwhelmed and more balanced, I’m hosting a free lunchtime webinar on October 25th. Register here or email me for details (Tracey@TraceySmithLifeCoach.com). In the meantime, grab some of my free resources, including my Ultimate Guide to Save Time & Energy.

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