You know that feeling. It’s like the gears just don’t connect, there’s no traction, no energy to accelerate. If you’re a mom who’s burned out from taking care of everyone at home (and at work, playgroup, your extended family too), it’s predictable that your feelings of guilt, anxiety, resentment and outright anger are building to the point where you’re afraid you will blow like a rocket.
That’s super scary because if that happened, you’re sure you’d ruin everything.
So what can you do instead? It’s not your habit to share with others what’s really going on inside. Your habit is to go underground with your feelings. In fact, as your anxiety grows, you take fewer healthy steps to feel better. Instead of reaching out to a friend, you tell yourself you need to work harder, and, well, get over yourself.
“Try harder; be a better mom, a better wife, a better employee; buck up and stop being such a baby. You need to look the part you’re playing.”
Instead of honoring your feelings, you mistakenly think it’s all about what you’re not doing well enough.
Burnout is mind and soul numbing. When my son was little I felt like I was running a marathon. Every. Day. Until I changed my life and work completely. You don’t have to go quite as far (unless that’s your path), but there are certainly some kernels of wisdom in the changes I made.
Here are 5 things I wish I knew when I was in the middle of burning out. YOU can benefit from them too so you don’t burn out completely:
- Rest. Moms who feel burned out are tired. I was always on the go, taking care of anything my son or husband wanted. Going to work, stopping for groceries on the way home and then making dinner. Homework, clean up, bedtime rituals. A little TV time with my husband. Rest? Are you kidding? It takes discipline to rest, but just taking 15 minutes to close your eyes, follow a meditation or body scan audio, will soothe your nervous system. It works.
- Ask for help and take it. I admit I thought I had to do everything myself, do things perfectly, and felt guilty if I did things just for me. Yes, being with our kids fulfills us, but don’t forget that other things used to, too. Find your ‘other’ thing and make it a real priority. Everyone will be happier.
- Take a real look at your work; it may be time to seriously shift. You may not be the person you were when you started this career, and vice versa. Are you using your strengths or are you trying to be someone you aren’t by stretching yourself too far?
- Tap your imagination for options. Moms who feel burned out believe things have to be the way they are. But they don’t. Get your hands on some magazines and pull out images of what looks refreshing and inviting to you. See what’s calling you. Get out that journal and write about all of your successes, your strengths, and if you can’t remember them ask others to help you. Even if it feels embarrassing, do it. You’ll feel better.
- Ask yourself what you’re really here for. As in What’s your purpose? Knowing your purpose, deep down, can help you gain clarity about the next simple actions to take, that can help you to genuinely re-engage in your life.
Brene Brown and Judith Warner have shed light on the shame we women feel when we don’t do motherhood (or, well, everything) seamlessly, perfectly, without help, while being effortlessly skinny and put together.
Living life real, with humor and imperfection, can be messier, but more creative and fun for everyone. Let’s banish the burnout, and really live.