Ever feel like you are withering, dried out, and full of cobwebs? There's no sign you are full of energy, revitalised, and feeling brand new and complete, is there?
Work feels hard. There are too many tasks to complete. Every day is full and you feel like the world is crashing around you. Overwhelm is intense. When you are asked to start a new project at work, or your child asks you to take them somewhere (or do something with them), you'd prefer to huddle up under a blanket and hide.
It's too much.
Life is being sucked out of you.
There's no time to recuperate.
Your world is a never-ending "merry-go-round" of jobs to do, negative thoughts, and feelings that you haven't accomplished anything.
Heavy workloads, deadline pressures, and running a family are a fact of a working high-achieving Mum and Manager. Feeling stretched and overwhelmed is relentless, and it can push us into a terrible state of burnout. It can not only affect the way we see our performance as a Mum and Manager, but it can also affect our well-being and the environment at home (crazy, tense, fiery emotions with a lack of connection and fun!).
We've all seen or heard of the studies where burnout is linked to negative physical and mental health outcomes - hypertension, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and as we saw during COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in alcohol consumption.
Whenever I'm feeling burnt out I end up feeling alienated, the quality of my relationships declines as I retreat to my own world. I isolate myself. The energy at home is one where everyone is walking on eggshells and the mood is glum and volatile.
It's not pretty being burnt out, isn't it?
Sometimes when we are 'in the thick of it' we are so overwhelmed and busy that we don't recognise the signs of burnout. It's difficult to know you need strategies to bust burnout if you aren't aware of the symptoms.
So let's have a look at 3 signs to help you understand the underlying causes which will, in turn, help you to develop preventative strategies to stop the burnout patterns.
1. Exhaustion is the central symptom of burnout. This can be physical, mental, and emotional fatigue that stops us from working effectively, which in turn makes us feel negative about what we are doing.
As high-achieving Mum's we are always 'on' at work and at home. The intense time pressure as we juggle the Mum 'stuff' and then all of the things we have to do at work on top of this. It feels like we have no control over anything. We don't have the concentration needed to perform complex tasks and we can't see our situation ever-ending any time soon. Our energy levels are low and they aren't being replenished properly.
2. Cynicism can be seen when we feel like we are observing ourselves from outside of our body or having a sense that whatever is going on isn't real. We are disconnected, and it stops us from being engaged and close with our loved ones.
Often when we don't make decisions (which often need to be made!) we can feel cynical and it can also be worsened by work overload. There's often a feeling of high conflict, unfairness and we find it difficult to solve simple problems.
Have you ever felt like your kids are ignoring what you have to say and this is affecting your own behaviour and reactions? You then start to lash out, judge them and yourself and are pessimistic about the situation. It becomes very clear in this state there's no connection, enjoyment or pride in your work or family.
3. Inefficacy refers to feelings of incompetence and a lack of achievement and productivity. When we are exhausted, overwhelmed, and have feelings of being 'stuck' we feel our parenting/managerial skills start to slip. The "I'm a crap parent" thoughts come in at home, and at work, we feel like we aren't performing well. As a single Mum, I've felt this because I haven't got the resources to use as a backup to run my daughter to appointments and attend to any issues at school. It's left all on my lap, with no other support available.
All 3 of these signs tend to correlate with each other and can lead to the next sign of burnout. Identifying the symptoms is a good idea so you know where you need help.
So, what CAN you do to prevent burnout?
Here are some strategies I have found to be successful with both myself and my clients.
There's so much publicity about self-care, and yes, it is important. It’s essential to recharge your batteries from both a physical and emotional perspective. Once you do this it helps you to focus, prioritise your nutrition, exercise, develop social connections, improve sleep habits and improve well-being.
If you need some self-care hints and tips, head over to my free e-book "Making Self-Care Happen" to read more about what you can do.
Shift your perspective.
While rest, relaxation, and replenishment can ease exhaustion, curb cynicism, and enhance efficacy, they don’t fully address the root causes of burnout. You've still got the pile of washing in the laundry, the list as long as your arm to do, and the kids to shuttle from activities and appointments.
It's all about mindset and what you FEEL about the situation which needs to be addressed. Altering how you see, believe and feel about the situation will prevent a negative impact on you.
How do you do this? I have just the solution for you!
All you need to do is to book a Consultation with me, and we can work through this together. It's much harder to do it alone because our unconscious mind always sabotages us - we need someone outside of ourselves to help us identify those feelings and beliefs which are causing the biggest damage to us.
Reduce exposure to stressors.
This is harder than it seems. It's where we need to set clear boundaries with colleagues, family members and clients. Communicate what you are willing to take on and the ground rules for you to get along or work together.
Seek out connections.
Interacting and spending time with people helps to reduce cynicism and inefficiacy. Rich and beautiful connections can help us to activate positive relationships and can help us to break out of the negative cycle.
Call a friend and go for a walk.
Volunteer to help others.
Get out of the house and into the outdoors with your children in a different environment.
It's all about focusing on the connections to enhance the feelings of joy and belonging.
When we are 'in the thick of it', burnout can often feel insurmountable. The feelings of overwhelm are just one sign we need to do something differently. Identify the signs when you are feeling exhausted and try the strategies above.
Let me know how you go!