The dictionary definition of burnout is to experience a physical or mental collapse by overwork or stress. According to a recent survey by Flexjobs, 75% of those surveyed have experienced burnout and 45% have especially faced burnout during the pandemic.
The main reasons of extreme stress during the pandemic have been noted as
- Covid 19
- Personal Finances
- Current Events
- Concern over their family’s health
- Job Responsibilities
The data also shows that 65% people have seen increased workload during the pandemic.
The above stressors are specific for workplace stress. If you add to this data, the parenting responsibilities in the pandemic, it further increases the already increasing demands that today’s working parents have to meet with very little support.
Burnout and stress are real problems in today’s world and they directly affect our prosperity. Prosperity is your ability to feel that you are thriving, to know that you are doing well and that everything happening is in your best interest and that you are growing. Prosperity, therefore, is a state of mind, rather than your bank balance or your job title.
Signs of Burnout
It is important to look for early signs of burnout before they become too severe. Here are some common signs of burnout:
- Brain Fog
- Increased stress levels
- Temper problems
- Sleep issues
- Increased intake of alcohol or not so helpful coping mechanisms
- Unable to complete tasks
- Losing interest in normal life
- Relationship communication issues
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Decreased sex drive
- Physical symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness
- Experience depression
Get help : If you are someone who is experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it would be a great idea to get connected to a physical and mental health practitioner so you can get the necessary help you need in order to find relief.
12 stages of burnout
These symptoms are as follows:
- Compulsion to prove oneself (excessive ambition)
- Working harder
- Neglecting own needs
- Displacement of conflicts and needs
- No longer any time for non-work-related needs
- Increasing denial of the problem, decreasing flexibility of thought/behavior
- Withdrawal, lack of direction, cynicism
- Behavioral changes/psychological reactions
- Depersonalization: loss of contact with self and own needs
- Inner emptiness, anxiety, addictive behavior
- Increasing feeling of meaninglessness and lack of interest
- Physical exhaustion that can be life-threatening
How does burnout affect a family?
Burnout in a person can cause mood swings and temper issues. It can cause exhaustion, mental and physical.
This can further cause emotional imbalance in communication with children, partners and other members of the family. Burnout can make a person feel withdrawn or distant.This can impact the upbringing of children and further impact their future. There can be resentment and increased tension.
Burnout does not just affect an individual but everyone around them who loves them.
It is very important for all of us,especially parents, to take a look at early warning signs and even more important to start working on preventing burnout completely by taking important self-care measures.
Based on my experience as an ambitious professional, entrepreneur and a parent as well as my training in mindfulness, finances, engineering and neuro-transformational coaching, I have gathered and documented resources, strategies and tips below to help you keep burnout at bay.
The advice below is from experience and for information and education only. Please always consult professionals for accurate diagnosis and treatment
# Strategies For Parents to Keep Burnout At Bay
- Always listen to your body – Our body talks to us. If we stop constantly feeding it caffeine to be on the run and just stop and listen, it will tell us if it feels exhausted. It will also tell us what it needs. If we constantly ignore our body’s need to rest deeply, eat better, exercise, sleep, just relax, we invite more stress and disease. As parents, we often feel guilty to do anything for ourselves, but if we do not take care of ourselves, then how are we going to take care of others that are dependent on us.
- Exercise – Exercise is on the top of the list of recommended strategies to keep burnout away. Exercise helps keep our muscles and bones strong. It also helps in hormonal regulation and secretion of happy hormones. When it comes to exercising, I believe one should indulge and try out whatever works for any person. There was a time when I had fun doing HIIT exercises but lately I have discovered how much my body enjoys yoga and flow. Sometimes we may feel like it is time consuming to join a gym or get an instructor. To keep up with time and all the to-do lists in the house, for parents it can sometimes be easy to find out home workout ideas, or walk in the park or swimming and cycling. During the pandemic, I discovered that Amazon Prime membership had exercise videos, beginner HIIT exercises, meditations and yoga to try out and see what you like.
- Plan Your Finances – Finances are one of the top stressors in the life of parents. Not only does one have to think of feeding a family, there is financial planning required for daily needs, rent or mortgage, food and clothing, classes, fun and vacations, entertainment, higher education, retirement, medical needs, gifts, etc. Some of the financial statistics in America are quite shocking. Only 30% of Americans have a long term financial plan, 40% of Americans have savings less than $300 and only 39% of Americans have enough cash to cover 1000$ emergency. I offer one on one financial literacy webinars as well as financial planning and coaching for families living in the USA and if you are interested to find out more, you are welcome to book an appointment.
- Create an estate plan – As a parent, we are always worried about what will happen to our children, if something happens to us. In order to reduce our worries, it is important to have a plan. Our mind likes to know that it has a plan so it can stop worrying. 90% of Americans do not have an estate plan. Important decisions as to how your assets will be distributed, who will take care of your minor children, could be decided by a judge if you do not have your documents in place. I recommend the service by Netlaw to create these documents from the comfort of your own home. This product is developed by an attorney, it is easy and cloud based, and for a fraction of the cost of what you have to pay at an attorney’s office. If you are in the state of California, I also recommend my friend Carmen Rosas and her law services for your estate planning needs.
- Schedule Rest and Relaxation – In today’s times, people are constantly on the move. Everything is 24 by 7. If we are not in front of our computers working, then we are attending our children or running errands or doing chores. When was the last time you shut everything down, put your feet up and just did nothing?
When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) is fired. As a result stress hormones are created in our body. While this response helps in times of danger, a highly stressed environment keeps the sympathetic nervous system continuously fired up without going into a relaxation response or the firing of a parasympathetic nervous system.
This results in increased stress hormones in our body. The firing of relaxation responses can help decrease stress hormones in our body. Due to chronic stress, the relaxation response fails to work on its own. You can read more about this in Dr. Herbert Benson’s book The Relaxation Response.
It becomes our responsibility then to induce relaxation responses in our body through external measures. Restorative Yoga, Mindfulness, Breathwork, Yoga Nidra and Sound Healing are some of the modalities I use for me and my clients to help reduce stress and promote rest and relaxation. Incorporating self care in your daily life is key to having a healthy mind, body and spirit. It is also the key to your prosperity.
- Delegate/ Outsource – Too many responsibilities can overwhelm any person. Parents are not an exception. Some things at home like cooking, cleaning, getting groceries can be delegated or outsourced to individuals who can assist you so you can show up in your life with full presence and less stress. A lot of times, especially at startups, people at work may not hire enough people and that puts a lot of workload on certain individuals who excel at what they do and are always looking to help others. While it is great to be resourceful at work and help when needed, overworking to the point of exhaustion is harmful to health and unnecessary.
- Having boundaries between work and your life – Bringing work home has become easy in the pandemic when many people shifted to a work environment. This essentially helped people work anytime they wanted. While it gave flexibility to a lot of people, it also created an issue of boundaries. Having clear boundaries of when you will start work, when you will stop work, when you can take a break, when you can hang out with family becomes essential.
- Building a daily meditation practice – The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to begin where you are. Mindfulness meditation is a skill that requires patience and practice.
- Here are steps to begin your mindfulness meditation practice
- Start slow and for short time periods. I started with 5 minutes.
- Schedule a time period in the morning and evening or just one time in the day.
- Create a quiet spot in your office space, your backyard, your deck or any corner of your house that you feel comfortable sitting in.
- Make sure you have a comfortable pillow, or chair to sit on.
- Keep your back straight
- Choose one of the simple practices below and start practicing daily
- Beginner’s Mindfulness Meditation Practices that I Recommend:
- Three Things: Close your eyes and focus on what is around you. Notice three sensations. Notice three sounds. Notice three smells. Then open your eyes. Notice the first three things you see. Notice the first three colors.
- Body Scan: Lie or sit comfortably in a relaxed position. Close your eyes. Beginning with your toes and working up throughout your entire body, concentrate on any physical sensations and feelings you are experiencing. Notice any tightness, pain, discomfort, irritation, heat, cold. Once you have reached your head, work your way back down until you reach your toes again. Your job in this exercise is to simply pay attention and be aware of every sensation.
- Three Mindful Breaths: Close your eyes. Allow your spine to life and shoulders to soften. Begin by taking a gentle slow to inhale, resting your attention on the sensation of the air passing over your nostrils and filling your chest and abdomen. Notice the sensations in the body as the air passes back out. Rest for a moment and begin again. Repeat 3 times.
- Thought Watching: Close your eyes. Simple notice your thoughts. Avoid judging them. Let the thoughts arise and fall. It is your only duty to notice them. Try not to get carried away with them. If you get carried away with them, you will notice emotions arising. At that moment, bring yourself back to noticing thoughts. You may number the thoughts as they come and go to make it easier for yourself.
- 5-4-3-2-1: With open eyes, notice five things you can see. Say them loudly or silently in your head. Pause at each one of them and see them completely. Now close your eyes. Notice four things you can feel in the body. Note them to yourself loudly or silently. Now notice and name three things you can hear. Now note two things you can smell. Now finally notice the taste in your mouth. Slowly open your eyes.
All the steps mentioned above require intention and thought behind your actions. Only when you take that extra time for yourself to incorporate some or all of the above things, will it be beneficial for you long term.
A lot of times, people read a lot, listen a lot and they know a lot. But just having knowledge is not the same as practice. I appreciate when people read and put knowledge into practice.
Self-accountability is great for keeping up with practice but sometimes you need an external hand to be accountable for you. In those times, you can connect with a lifestyle strategy coach like me who can guide you to find the time, space and accountability you need to create these lifestyle changes, one small step at a time.
Making changes in our life is hard. And sometimes you need an accountability partner or coach to guide you through it. Change management is what I excel at and help my clients with. And I can help you too. Check my coaching packages here