Every mama has one of ‘those’ days occasionally when you feel stressed out and utterly exhausted. You’ve been up half the night, the to-do list is out of control, a work deadline is looming, and the kids have just tipped glitter all over the dog.
But, with so much on our plates and the constant pressure to be perfect, those days can often become weeks, until burnout is on the horizon.
Something that is longer exclusive to the corporate CEOs of the world, mama burnout is on the rise. But are you at risk, and what can you do to bring some calm back to your world?
What is burnout?
Burnout is the result of being in a chronic state of stress for a prolonged time. It saps your energy leaving you feeling overwhelmed, drained, and unable to meet your everyday responsibilities. Rather than happening suddenly it comes on over time, making it harder to identify. However, there are some signs to watch out for:
Chronic fatigue. Early on you might feel tired and lack energy, but as burnout sets in you feel emotionally and physically depleted, waking up as exhausted as you went to bed.
Forgetfulness. From lack of attention to often losing items and the complete the inability to get through a working day, this can lead to further stress and anxiety as things pile up.
Irritability. Feeling snappy, tense, and short-tempered? Maybe more arguments are occurring at home, or you are snapping at the kids for trivial things. Either way, this is a certain sign of burnout.
Reduced immunity. As your body is depleted, your immunity is reduced, leading to increased sickness, such as colds and flu.
Insomnia. Oh, what we would give for a full night’s sleep anyway. But if you can’t sleep when you DO get chance to hit the hay, it is a sure sign that burnout is occurring.
Withdrawal. Loss of enjoyment and feelings of detachment can lead to withdrawal from various activities – playing with kids, social events, work commitments, eventually leading to further feelings of isolation.
Lack of productivity. Though you are stressed and putting in long hours, your productivity is reduced, and you feel like you are drowning in your overflowing to-do list.
What can you do?
If you are concerned you are suffering from burnout, there are many steps you can take to get some control back in your life.
Get help. If you are experiencing any signs of burnout, seek help straight away. Visit your GP, or speak to a counsellor to help you work through the challenges you have on your plate.
Step back. Try to take some time to honestly look at the stress that is happening in your life. With a little perspective, you can start to delegate some tasks.
Set some boundaries. As a mama, learning to say ‘no’ is a huge challenge. But that little word can make all the difference to your happiness.
Get creative. Nourishing your creative side is a wonderful antidote to burnout. Try a new hobby, start a project, or resume something you used to enjoy.
Try to get plenty of sleep. Though it’s hard with a tiny tribe to care for, rest is essential to recovery, so head to bed early, or take a nap during the day if you can.
Set aside time for relaxation. Yoga, meditation, reading a book, whatever helps you relax. Dedicate a little time to putting your body in a state opposite to the stress response it has become used to.
Go tech-free. Though 24/7 connectivity is handy, it is also a big culprit in lack of downtime. So, stop checking social media and turn off the phone, giving yourself space to wind down and chance for your brain to switch off.
Get support. If the majority of childcare and household responsibilities fall to you, have an honest conversation with your partner or immediate family for some help. You are no good to anyone if you are completely burnt out.
Lower your expectations. Take the pressure off yourself and drop the guilt. Decide what is important and let other things go.
Get social. Turn to your tribe, your partner, your friends, those who you enjoy spending time with to help you find some enjoyment in the little things again.
Get moving. Exercise is a fantastic antidote to stress, so get those endorphins firing with a walk in the sunshine.
Self-care. Most all, be kind to yourself.