“Oh no…” I moan to myself as the tell tale signs of burnout come creeping in. The short temper, irritated at …well nothing really. The gloomy looking future as my perspective is clouded. Don’t forget the pity party that sneaks in there too.
We are wired as parents to keep going and going, like the energizer bunny. Funny thing is we don’t have that long lasting battery. Unless we recharge or put new batteries in -we are hopelessly frozen in place. We are no use to anyone around us. In fact we may be doing more harm than good when we sacrifice our well-being to continue taking care of the demands of life when our current gas tank is on ‘E’.
It was recently pointed out to me from the opposite gender how wives/mothers need to get paid too. This can look different in many ways, but they all have a common denominator with the end result being refreshed and renewed. Many studies have been conducted in the work force revealing if you want your employee operating at top-notch there are steps to take to ensure productivity. This is not intended to encourage you to only think about yourself, but rather the opposite so you can give your best to others. If we are divided too many times over with programs, boards, volunteer work, activities and so forth we will only be able to give 5% to each category and sadly leave our family with cold, stale leftovers. My life has collided with burnout more often than I would like to admit, so I have been consciously seeking, trying and testing different ways to stop burnout in its tracks before it consumes me again. We are all so very unique and different that what fills me up may not necessarily fill you. Here are a few ideas I have had success with to help before it hits with full force…
Recognize what brings you joy. This may sound simple enough, but as life keeps moving forward and changing my interests have as well. I am still that person I was before I married and had children. I am also in a very busy season of life right now so I try to keep it simple. Coffee with a good friend, a supper date, or even a hair cut. Those things make me feel like an individual and not the “invisible mom”.
Volunteer in areas you actually enjoy and realistically have time for. Almost everyone I know volunteers in some shape or form. I am a planner so I really like putting together fun activities, parties and crafts for kids programs. It really takes the “work” right out of it when I enjoy it. Life stages change however, so I have to analyze how much I can actually do on a yearly basis.
Scheduling in breaks. When I have a block of time carved out in the day/week/month I am more likely to be more patient and have a better outlook. Similar to a small light at the end of the tunnel. When I can see the bit of light coming, I can breathe deep and keep going knowing my mind/body will have a chance to rest eventually. I try to combine what brings me joy with these scheduled “breaks” for the biggest impact on my state of mind.
Prepare for the worst and make an action plan. The signs begin to emerge that life is demanding too much and taking its toll, burnout may be around the corner. Plan for it. Which balls am I juggling that I can drop or delegate? For myself this may be taking a “snow day”. All activities for the day get cancelled and we stay in our pajamas and lounge around, reading a good book, baking cookies or drinking coffee all. day. long. The minimum gets done for housework and ordering pizza in for supper sounds fantastic. Other times this is simply impossible due to other obligations, so I make a mental list of what has to be done and what I can cut out later that week.
What are your thoughts on overcoming burnout? What helps you when life spins out of control? Are there certain steps you take to get a good grip on the reigns again? Whatever secret weapon you have I would love to be in on it, feel free to email or write it in the comments section, it’s always a joy to hear from my readers!
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1
“And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” Eph. 4:23
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” Proverbs 11:25