- Merrily Hope
I hope you are doing well. I have been taking some time behind the scenes working on a couple of projects, inspired by some real-life burnout. It got me thinking...we hear burnout when discussing professionals, but how does burnout apply to parenting and even personal growth?
There is a difference between burnout and stress. Stress occurs when your adrenals have been shot into action for one reason or another. Burnout occurs when your adrenals are just...well...shot! Stress is figuring out how to reach the finish line, burnout is not really caring if there is a finish line. Relatable??
As moms, in the thick of it, we don’t realize burnout until it is ugly and real! Let me be clear, burnout doesn’t suggest that you aren’t loving your life as a mom, it suggests that it is hard. Really, really hard. I’m preaching to the choir, but a mom’s brain never EVER quiets down. Guess what, neither do your adrenals. Adrenal fatigue is a slightly controversial condition, but I can tell you...I 100% believe it to be real, and several years ago, when I was pretty unhealthy, my awesome doc recognized it and started to help me through it, I felt significantly better!
The first step in combating burnout is recognizing how you are feeling, and searching within to see if you are falling into this hole. Way too often, we are running on empty, but are so used to feeling this way that we don’t even recognize it. I also want to caution you about the risk of burnout in all areas of your life. Been on a super strict diet, and then suddenly said, “WTH!?” and ate everything in sight? Burnout. Snapped at your kids after a long week of shuttling them around because they made a simple comment that you took the wrong way? Burnout. Been meditating, journaling, doing yoga, reading 4 self-help books, and taking long baths at the end of every day? (First, good for you...sounds like heaven)...but then you yell at your kids, say to yourself “I AM SUPPOSED TO BE ENLIGHTENED!?” and then say screw it, I give up my path for peace? Burnout.
What is the answer...it’s multifaceted, but in one word...balance. We are designed to be in balance, but unless something dramatic has happened to make the cause of your burnout blatantly obvious, the slip into burnout is slow and discreet. Once we recognize it, we can make subtle changes to bring ourselves back into balance.
I am taking my own advice. I was charging through with both guns blazing...Podcast, blog, newsletter, creating online courses, research, research, research, private clients, running two businesses, raising three kids, running a house) and then BOOM! Merrily meets wall. Not pretty. So, I am slowing down. Don’t worry...it’s all still moving forward, but I don’t need it to move forward in such a hurry. And neither do you. Some time off to restructure, streamline, and prioritize made a massive difference. Is that something you can afford yourself as well?
Burnout is ugly, complex, and can be debilitating. But, it is also “cureable.” What is the answer? It’s multifaceted, but in one word...balance. We are designed to be in balance, and unless something dramatic has happened to make the cause of your burnout blatantly obvious, the slip into burnout is slow and discreet. Once we recognize it, we can make subtle changes to bring ourselves back into balance.
Some common symptoms of burnout include irritability, self-doubt, detachment, cynicism, ineffectiveness, and loss of motivation. When left untended, it will grind life to a screeching halt, whether you “allow” it to or not. Burnout is like physical and emotional depletion. There’s nothing left, Baby. It can be caused by several things: Overload (most common for moms), being under-challenged (wait, I was someone else before Mom?), feelings of neglect, being undervalued or unappreciated, and disconnected. Those things all cause burnout in moms and in work. However as I said before, you can find burnout in self-help and personal growth as well. This often comes from wanting results, whether it’s on the scale or enlightenment, right now!
4 Steps toward healing:
Motivation-what motivates you in each area of your life (no judgment here!) Perhaps you are motivated by money, status, philanthropic good feelings...it doesn't matter. Just recognize what is motivating you.
Priority check (most important)
Steps to pull yourself out
Some possible causes of burnout, and their solutions:
Take a few moments in quiet, ground yourself, and open your mind up for answers to the following questions. Listen to your body and your intuition. It will guide you! Remember how deeply connected your physical health and mental health are. If you are suffering physical symptoms, there is a good possibility that they are being caused by emotional distress. “Intense emotions such as anger, sadness, jealousy, and regret need fuel to manifest in your consciousness, and this fuel is more often than not corporeal energy.” -Daily OM, Feeling Depleted
Assess your general health, level of fatigue, physical symptoms, monkey mind (racing brain), relationships. Which areas are you struggling with right now.?
Perhaps it is your to-do list, which seems to never shrink...can you re-prioritize? Ask for help?
Are you exhausted all the time? Maybe it’s time to mark everything off your calendar next weekend and sleep or binge Netflix. NO GUILT
Body feeling sluggish? Perhaps reevaluate what you’re putting in it? Can you add some alkaline or lemon water? Switch out green tea for your third cup of coffee? Give your liver a break by eliminating processed foods and sugar for three days?
Tips to rise up from burnout:
Connect with Mother Earth. Make a date. Put it on your calendar. Don’t stand her up! Ideas include: a hike, time on the water (kayak, canoe, fishing), gardening, just sitting outside on a blanket relaxing.
Get help! Delegate, see an energy healer or acupuncturist, find a coach or therapist. Sometimes you are energetically jammed. A Reiki session or acupuncture can help you with this. A coach or therapist can help by posing challenging, sometimes uncomfortable questions to help you dig deeper to figure out why you are feeling stuck. One course that I absolutely loved and suggest all the time to my clients can be found on DailyOm.com: Chakra Dance to Change Your Life.
Be social! It’s easy to withdraw when you can’t imagine mustering up the energy to socialize, but sometimes we can draw energy from others. Make a plan with someone that is willing to just go do something quiet with you. Or bonus...if you can muster the energy...meet someone new. Someone who lights you up.
Switch NOT CANCEL your routine. Been doing yoga every morning for a month? Look for a different 30-minute workout for one week.
Limit negativity-stay away from the news, social media and even steer clear of negative people for a while.
Relax! Meditate, take a walk in a new place (not an exercise walk, a peaceful walk), go to bed early without feeling guilty! Remember, taking a break allows your mind to rest and creativity to seep in, it also gives your adrenals a break. “Inspiration does indeed favor the prepared mind, but the Muse is courted by Lady Pleasure and scared off by the cracking whip.” Joan Borysenko, Fried.
Here’s a tough one...create boundaries! To prepare for this, spend some time journaling...How do you feel about creating boundaries? Does it scare you? Why? Then make a 3-part list: Which areas of life need protecting? Who does this affect? What are the consequences? Chose one to work on this week.
Write an affirmation to repeat daily to protect your boundaries. For example: I honor my spirit, body, and mental health by protecting my values.
Emotional self-care: To combat feelings of underappreciation or unimportance, create a pride box with little notes or a digital one with texts from people sharing their appreciation and love with you.
Re-evaluate what lights you up! Burnout stems from a lack of drive. Create a vision board...either a literal board or digital one. Add words that remind you of your values and priorities. Use this as part of your meditation and manifestation practices. Bonus idea...How many of you have actually created a vision board with your spouse? Some ideas to get you started on your board:
Where do you want to go?
How do you want to feel?
What code do you want to live by?
What dreams have been on hold that you wish to pursue?
What/who inspires you?
More journal prompts for a deeper dive:
Create a pie chart about how you spend your day. Hmm, notice a gross imbalance? Don’t judge yourself for it. Just notice it.
Write down the things that seem mundane, or unimportant that you need to do. Now write down how each of those tasks makes a positive difference in someone’s life. For example...doing errands with your kids in tow…(admittedly, makes my blood pressure rise thinking about it) However, with a positive spin, this is an opportunity to create a bond with them. Be silly...throw in an unexpected stop that makes YOU happy...a quick plant shop, your favorite Baskin Robbins…
Struggling with self-care? Let’s dive into where that comes from. Rather than tell yourself, “I need to get better at self-care,” figure out where the block comes from. Were you taught as a child to always be doing something productive? Where you told you must always put others first? Investigate this, write about it, and release it's hold on you. Is it possible that you need to feel needed in order to validate your worth? If so, are you putting your needs on hold to tend to others’ in order to fill you up? If that’s the case, the work that needs to be done is to build up your own internal worth.
Moving forward- Let’s prevent burnout from creeping in again. Do this challenge every few months to keep yourself in check:
Work/life balance activity (Adapted from DailyOm course on Burnout)
Fold your paper in half. On the right side, list all of your main core values, (What is important to you?)
On the left side, make a list of the things you have done/are doing in a three-day span.
Cross out the have-tos: Grocery store, bills, laundry. These are likely non-negotiable.
Now, draw a line from the items on the left and right sides of your paper. If you have core values that are not linked to something...make it a priority to add something to your to-do list that feeds your values. Contrarily, if there are several items on the right, that do not align with a value, consider that. Can it be delegated, eliminated, or minimized?
YOU are valuable and taking care of yourself IS taking care of your children, your business, your marriage. YOU are not intended to be an afterthought. Burnout is the universe’s way of popping you on the head and reminding you of that.