I’m not going to tell you that everything will be alright, right now. What I will tell you is that if you work on yourself daily, it will eventually get better. You can’t affirmation your way to peace of mind from burnout without actually putting in the work.
Is constant stress from the daily experiences of life and motherhood taking a toll on your mental health; causing you to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, vulnerable and completely demoralized?
If so, you may well be on the verge of burnout. When you’re burned out every problem seems unassailable, things look desolate and it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe and help yourself out of it.
This condition can not only threaten your mental wellbeing but also cause a serious blow to your family life, mommy life, and career. Below are a few easy preemptive measures you can take to avoid finding yourself in overwhelming situations that can lead to burnout.
Watch-out for these warning signs and symptoms that might indicate a burnout. Raise the alarm-bells if you:
- Get triggered easily.
- Bottle your emotions too much.
- Experience exhaustion, migraines, headaches.
- Become a cynic (Or in my case, more than usual)
- Simply abhor going places.
- Find it difficult to sleep well.
- Feel hollowness inside.
- Feel worthless.
- Lose your appetite.
- Lack supportive friendships.
I am guilty of experiencing more than a few of these symptoms. In fact, I think I go through most of these on a daily basis. What helps me through is getting a healthy dose of reality check and realizing that no one is going to help me overcome my feelings except me.
The tips below are practical things that I have applied in my own life. I have included finds from other people who have also experienced mommy burnout and have shared their solutions for getting over the hump.
1. Learn the art of saying no.
Stop trying to save the goddamn world. Every backhanded yes you utter adds another thing on your to-do list, something you can politely avoid with ease. This drains your already diminishing energy doing things you have nothing to gain from. Try to prioritize your work only. Every ounce of stress you avoid makes a big difference in the end.
Say this out loud:
“I can’t please everyone and I am not going to try.”-you, after a dose of courage
When you discover the life shifting reality of saying “No,” everything changes. Do not guilt trip yourself into thinking that someone can’t get something done without you.
I once had a friend (yep, HAD. Another story for another time.) that I was helping and I was moving heaven and earth with my schedule to be available to her during her time of need. I was working 16 hour days and going to school at night. She would call me at night to ask me to come over to help her so I would wake up 2 to 3 hours early so I could get to her before work. Some days I would go after getting out of school at night, so around 11 p.m.
When she would call me at work because she had an accident and needed me to rush her to the hospital, I would drop everything to escort her. I would help tidy up her place and help her with going on errands. I would visit her in the hospital so she wouldn’t feel alone, going before or after work or school.
I guess, seeing how anxious, stressed, and tired I was, my mom asked me, “What did she do before you?” Meaning who was there doing all those things for her before I stepped into the picture. How did she survive before I stepped in as Captain Save ‘Em? I responded that that was irrelevant, my friend needed help now, and I was the only one she could rely on.
Months later, my friend and I were conversing about my helping her and she says, “Dee, you weren’t there when I needed you. You didn’t do anything for me.” You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.
What did she mean I didn’t ‘do anything’ for her? Didn’t she know how I was sacrificing my family and career for her? Didn’t she realize the toll this was having on my body and well being?
How dare she! Didn’t she realize how much effort I put into showing her that I was a good friend? I’ll show her, I thought. I would just stop doing everything I was doing for her and that would show her. I’ll bet she will apologize for saying this shit to me then….
Never happened. From that point on, we became friendly but not friends (there were other things involved as well with our distance). She didn’t call me to do anything for her and I didn’t volunteer. I got so wrapped up in trying to prove that I was a good friend that I lost myself along the way. I was willing to sacrifice so much to make sure that she was okay, but no one asked me to do that. I realized I didn’t really want to do any of the things she asked me to do and I didnt say “NO” because I thought a good friend shouldn’t.
I was wrong.
Even when things were getting rough for me, I kept going. I didn’t acknowledge that maybe I should slow down. Maybe I should decline the next request. I had placed expectations on our friendship.
That was my fault and it was irresponsible of me. I felt overwhelmed, but in my effort to prove that I was a good friend, I expected her to be grateful. If I had been sincere, I would have said ‘yes’ to the things I could help her with, and ‘no’ to the things I couldn’t. That would’ve been an honest exchange in our relationship.
I learned that saying no to someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Saying no requires fortitude. It acknowledges that you know that you are unable to or don’t want to do something. Saying no respects the boundary that you have set for yourself. It means that you have placed a value on your time and your well being.
Master the art of saying no and reducing stress.
Lessons from a 2 year old:
DJ, come eat. “No.”
Lets go. “No”
Stop doing that. “No.”
Stop running around the bed. “No.”
Stop running with that bag over your head. “No.”
Give mommy hug? “No.”
He says it so succinctly there is no room for doubt about what he means. We still love him.
Your friends and family will still love you. More importantly, you’ll love yourself more when you have the courage to say what you actually feel.
There is nothing wrong with saying NO.
What to say, “No” for different situations:
- “Unfortunately, I can’t commit to that.”
- My schedule doesn’t permit time to attend but if that changes, I’ll let you know.
- No, I am not comfortable doing that.
- I am excited for you. I’m unable to attend, but I can’t wait to hear about the outcome of your [event].
Helpful websites on the art of saying no
2. Get plenty of rest.
Stop laughing. I know, what free time, right?? Goes without saying, but I say it to remind myself to slow down. Make the most of your off-time doing absolutely nothing and sleeping well. How often will we try to “catch up” on things that, quite frankly, have been put on hold since forever. Resting is one of the simplest ways to reduce strain on your mind and body, but as Moms we so often forget to take care of ourselves in this way.
Reduce the time you spend behind screens and on electronic devices during rest.
I have to force myself to cut the cord on my smartphone by saying out loud, “No free time. Surfing the net isnt time well spent. Get off your phone now!” Or, No “N.E.T. time – No Extra Time,” as Tony Robbins says. It means that you don’t have any extra time for wasting time. All time should be spent learning or doing something that will aid in your growth as a person.
I am also a night owl so I feel my best time to work or getting things done is at night. I have had to reprogram myself to function during the day and go to bed at night at a decent time. My mind can race a mile a minute when I’m in bed, and that’s when feelings of overwhelm start creeping in.
I’ve been listening to Drew Ackerman’s podcast Sleep with Me. I don’t know what the hell is going on in this podcast, but whatever it is, it works. I really can’t explain more than that. You just have to check it out.
3. Pay attention to your physique.
I’m 260 pounds, but I’m here to tell ya – Never ignore your physical well-being and exercise regularly. Lack of physical activity will leave you weak and frail making things more difficult. Exercising everyday elevates your energy levels.
Really, you should do this. This is a work in progress for me. I like to incorporate this into my morning for a few minutes daily. I am not a person who likes working out, but I do it because there is a benefit to it. I like doing yoga and tai chi specifically, but every once in awhile I get the urge to actually exercise using equipment or taking a fitness class. I find when I exercise more, I feel less stress and fatigue.
These have helped me when I don’t have much time to do anything, let alone, exercising:
- 7 minute fitness app
- Tai chi
- 478 breathing
4. Find your escapes.
I have to find my escape at work every hour. If I don’t, I run the risk of going into a fiery rage.
Also, I need these little moments to help me when I’m in mom mode. I know it’s hard to change or extend a routine when something is working so well for you, but if you don’t take a moment to escape, you will have a moment you will regret.
I know it’s probably hard for you to even have time for yourself in the bathroom. At least, that’s how it is for me.
I used to pull over on the road right before I got home to take 2 minutes to be with myself. Seriously.
Learn how to find your escape in as little as 2 minutes:
- Set a timer for 2 minutes
- Close your eyes
- Do nothing for 2 minutes
But try it. First, you don’t realize how long 2 minutes is until you are sitting in your thoughts and time is slowly passing by. When I first started I would think, is it over yet? Did I really set the timer? Geez, this is taking a long time.
Then I started letting my thoughts float past. I promised myself that I had time to worry about everything I worry about after my 2 minutes were over, but for now, these 2 minutes are only for relaxing.
Then after doing it a few times, I would close my eyes and immediately go into this zen like state. It feels like…like if you’ve been up for a long time and you’re really tired and when you close your eyes you immediately go into a deep sleep. It feels like I am floating.
Even if you don’t feel all that, wouldn’t it be nice to get away for 2 minutes even if it’s in your own head?
5. Take control.
Give yourself a little more autonomy over your life decisions and plan your own ways. You can overcome burnouts by managing your own time more effectively rather than following deadlines.
We all have things that have to get done and sometimes it may feel like we are the only ones who can accomplish the tasks.
When you develop time management skills that complement your style of managing your life, everything seems a little bit easier. I use the bullet journal method to help me organize and prioritize my life. I like that I am able to get all the jumbled thoughts out of my head and still make sense of everything on paper. This method doesn’t force me to conform to one single template each day, month, or year. I can change up what I focus on and create a template to my exact specifications for what I am feeling that day, week, month, or year.
Learn more about Bullet Journaling here.
6. Reevaluate the way you see work.
Always pick a job that you’re extremely interested in. Even if you can’t, make sure you find some value in doing your work. Socialize with your coworkers and turn them into good friends to have a friendlier workspace. Try to find the perfect balance between life at work and home.
Check out these other posts:
Lol, I admit, this is the one I struggle with. I have trust issues. I am currently evaluating my relationships at work and how I interact with my co-workers. When things go wrong, I consider my role in the situation. When things go right, I do the same thing, and I give myself a job well done. I’m doing a job I like, but is not my passion. That’s okay.
I make it a point to guide my thoughts in the positive direction so that I feel good about what I am doing.
7. Be open to talk to others.
Don’t let your ego overburden you with bottled emotions that you can lay off easily just talking to others. It is one of the most effective ways to release stress. Be vulnerable enough to let someone talk to you and reach out. Never shy away from opening up to someone you think is a good listener. It will not only stabilize your emotional imbalance but also strengthen your friendships.
I have used meetup to find groups of like minded people or find groups that do things that interest me.
Also, I complete little exercises that help me build my confidence to meet and talk with other people.
As a mom with an autistic child, some times I need an outlet – someone to talk to outside my circle of support, especially when stressful events happen outside the realm of my control.
Here’s what to do:
Challenge yourself to interact with 3 new people via email, forums, commenting on blogs, or in person.
Some people will answer back and some don’t, but that’s not important right now. What’s important is that you actually take the time and find the courage to allow yourself to do something that will compel you to talk to another human being.
You have to step out of yourself and have the courage to be open, forward, and present around other people.
8. Change your mindset.
Refresh your mind and your ability to deal with stressful situations. If you don’t focus on building your strength of mind, your body will be unable to handle the physical elements that are thrown at it.
Changing your mindset is a surefire way to relieve your overwhelm and reduce your potential burnout. While you may still feel a bit of anxiety as you move through the process of developing yourself, as you begin thinking different thoughts, your thinking behavior and patterns shift.
What are some of your tried and true Mom tips to combat overwhelm, stress, and burnout?