When life gets busy, stress can take its toll. And there’s no one who understands being busy better than a working mom. Over time, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed can lead to what’s known as burnout.
Burnout can manifest in many ways — you might feel listless, drained or depressed. Before you know it, the sensation can leach into all areas of your life, causing issues at work and hampering your happiness at home. Taking measures to alleviate it, or even prevent it from happening, is essential to prevent longer-term health issues.
Here are six ways to both ease feelings of burnout and prevent it from striking altogether.
First and foremost, it’s important to identify what burnout is and how it affects you. Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.” Most often associated with work, it can bleed into other areas of your life, including parenting and relationships.
How does this show up? Physical and mental exhaustion are the overarching signs. You may also notice a sense of dread about work, as well as anger, irritability, hopelessness or apathy. You could have physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or even high blood pressure.
No matter how you notice burnout, one thing is clear: life will need to change.
Take your PTO and use it wisely
Imagine this scenario: feeling run-down after work has caused you to let responsibilities at home slide. You decide to take time off to catch up on things around the house. After a day or two of getting your home in order, it’s time to go back to work. You feel like you’ve had no time off at all…because you haven’t.
As working parents, we sometimes feel as if we’re juggling way too many balls. And we often are, which can lead to us trying to squeeze in as much as we can during our time off. Yet we must remember how important it is to rest. Accept that on some days, chores will be left undone. On days off, ensure you have adequate time to rest, relax and recharge — without (and this is the important part) feeling guilty.
Create a routine for better time management
Some people have multiple planners, paper and digital. Others feel boxed in with constraints. The truth is, we can all use a little routine in our lives. Structure can help ensure we have adequate time throughout the week to do everything on our task lists. Taking time to plan out tasks and understand how long they will take will save a lot of hassle and potential scrambling at the end.
Time blocking is a method that some people use to have dedicated time to focus on specific tasks. In the digital age, with emails and Slacks pinging constantly, many people find themselves jumping from task to task. While multitasking can feel like you’re getting a lot done, the flip in focus can result in getting even less done.
Find the system that works for you — the evening and weekend you that gets to relax worry-free will thank you!
Schedule 1-on-1's with your supervisor
If you’re feeling listless and aimless at work, could it be because you’re unsure of your purpose? Building a rewarding career means having a plan for where you’d like it to go — and the best way to ensure you’re progressing is to have regular 1-on-1 sessions with your supervisor. 1-on-1s aren’t meant to be status update meetings. Rather, they should be a time for discussing your career goals, any challenges you’re experiencing and how your work and efforts align with the company’s goals and future plans. They’re also a time to connect with your supervisor on a human level. Be honest about how you feel. Together, you can brainstorm ways to make things better.
Take regular breaks and lunches
It’s the little things that make life great, and this goes for during the work day, too. If you have a tendency to eat lunch at your desk because deadlines are looming, reconsider this habit. Everyone needs time away from the desk during the day.
💡 Some ideas to refresh during the day include:
- 🏃 Move: Go for a walk, do a quick online yoga class or hop on your bike. You can even do a few chores around the house if you find that relaxing! The point is to free your mind from being “on,” even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
- 📘 Read or watch a show: Finish a chapter or catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show.
- 💬 Chat with friends: Call a friend or family member, or even meet up for lunch.
- 🛏️ Nap or meditate: To really refresh your mind, take a catnap or do a short meditation.
Make sure your work is working for you
Sometimes, burnout can be a sign of a deeper problem with your job. When you’ve taken steps to relieve your burnout and the thought of going to work still fills you with dread, it’s time to uncover the real issue. Explore what you want out of a job and how your current job doesn’t meet these needs. You deserve to be working at a job that makes you excited to go to work every day — so if your current role isn’t it for you, consider exploring opportunities with other companies through The Mom Project. We work hard to ensure we partner with future-focused companies who appreciate talent as whole individuals, not just who they are at work.
Finally, and most importantly, if you are feeling down and unable to get out of your funk, reach out to a loved one or a professional for help. We see you, Mom, and we value the beauty you bring into this world. Remember that the challenges of today won’t last forever, and give yourself grace.