For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from insomnia, and tonight is no exception. I always kiddingly tell people that I could conquer the world from 3-5am, but then don’t talk to me until after 10am while I rest.
I laid in bed wondering if it would be one of the rare occasions when I fall back asleep right away, but it wasn’t. Tonight happens to be wickedly windy. I don’t know how anyone else is asleep, because it is loud! The blinds are banging against the windows, the winds are howling, and trash cans are rolling down the street.
I envy those who are still sleeping, but it got me thinking about why I wake up. I think the honest answer is that it’s my time. Usually I’m the only one up, and there isn’t a soul asking me to do anything, except my own. What is my soul trying to tell me tonight? It’s telling me that I’m suffering from burnout, and I need to figure out how to rekindle the flame.
What is Burnout?
Webster says burnout is:
1. the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion. “good carbon burnout”
2. physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout”
Psychology Today says burnout is:
Cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how to carry out your job, working on goals that don’t resonate with you, and lack of social support.”
I’m going to take it a step further and say I not only suffer from burnout, I suffer from Mommy Burnout, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in this. It can happen to “working” moms or “stay-at-home” moms. (I don’t like the societal divide of working moms vs. stay at home moms (SAHM). They both have pros and cons. Exhaustion is a common occurrence in both.)
Here are some signs of Mommy Burnout:
- Do you feel overly cynical, frustrated, or resentful?
- Do you suffer from exhaustion to the point of withdrawal or emotional detachment from your kids and/or spouse?
- Do you feel ineffective as though nothing you do is good enough?
Sound familiar? Did you know that unresolved work stress can lead to a mountain of physical and health problems? (I’m not a doctor, just a sufferer.😊)
What Can We Do about It?
1. Be More Selfish
I know, I know. There isn’t any time during the day to be selfish. And I know you don’t want to hear this, but you need to make the time. Ask your spouse to watch the kids while you go to the grocery store. Take a couple of extra laps around to get a moment to yourself. Or you can become a crazy person like myself and work on your side hustle from 3am to 5am every day. Whatever you do for yourself doesn’t have to be huge, but it is important.
2. Compare Tasks with Job Descriptions
One of the biggest things I struggle with is staying inside the lines of what my job is. I am a prisoner to doing “what I think is right” instead of “what I want to be doing.”
If you’re a working mom, compare the tasks that you do with your job description. Are they similar? Different? If your job description isn’t even close to your workload, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to see if there is anything you can cut out or handle differently.
If you’re a SAHM, really evaluate all that you’re doing and see if you can cut anything out to give yourself some alone time. Trust me, your kids will really be fine if you have to give in occasionally and let them watch TV. Schedule play dates with other moms so your kids can watch each other while you get adult interaction.
In any mommy scenario, whether you stay home, work 80 hours a week, or something in between, it’s so important to go off the grid occasionally. We have a tendency (or at least I do) of looking at people on social media and thinking they have it more together than we do. I have a hard time remembering that it’s the other person’s “highlight reel” and they’re also deleting the thousands of do-I-really-look-like-that pictures. Maybe we need a secret mommy Facebook where we post the pictures that didn’t make the cut.
This not only means Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, but also Pinterest. Step away from your phones and computers. Give yourself a break. Think back to when you were a kid. What happy memories do you have of spending time with your parents (or adults)? I doubt you remember that your mom forgot to take your 11-month picture or that she took your 4-month picture two days late.
In researching this subject probably nine out of 10 people recommended meditating. I’ve tried to master this, and I just flat out can’t sit still. I’m going to keep trying, but I’m definitely not an expert in this area. If you have any tips, please send them my way!
4. Do Something Meaningful and Interesting
For me, my meaningful and interesting is working on this blog and pursuing my dream job of writing. One of my best friends goes to cake decorating classes. I know people that like to hike (weirdos😉.)
5. Keep Your To Do Lists Minimal
I panic at this one. My to-do lists are in the hundreds for work and home. HUNDREDS. A good friend of mine sticks by the three a day rule. It literally means to pick ONLY three things you want to accomplish and get those done. You’ll feel great that you did them, and that positive feeling will increase when you complete all three things and are able to get more in. (However, if you don’t make it through the three items, don’t linger on it and beat yourself up.)
6. Seek Support
If you feel like you’re suffering from mental illness, get some help. Again, I’m not a doctor, but I believe that postpartum depression can happen anytime postpartum and not just after the babies are born.
Look for other moms in your same situation (or complete opposite situation) and make playdates with them. Nobody will be able to understand better than other moms.
7. Get Some Exercise and Get Some Sleep
Exercising doesn’t have to be excessive, but moving around for at least 30 minutes a day increases the happy chemicals in your brain. Exercising will also physically exhaust you and lead to better sleep. (Says the crazy chick up at 3:30am writing a blog post.)
Journaling is important to figuring out exactly what is exciting you or what is weighing heavy on your mind. For me, there is nothing better than getting out fresh paper and putting my thoughts down on it. When I look back three or four months, most of the things I was upset or worried about never came to fruition. It sometimes helps me to put things into perspective. Other times I find out there really is a problem. It more importantly reminds me of the good times.
There are many things you (and I) can do to overcome burnout. I think the most important thing you (or I) can do is to ask for help.
About the Author
Betsy Drellack is the owner of DecorousDiva.