When last have you had one of those days where you feel so emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted, that you can barely drag yourself out of bed? Yes, we all have them! Unfortunately, a few days like this now and then is to be expected in motherhood.
But, this does not mean that it's normal to experience this regularly or on an ongoing basis.
We should be very careful of minimizing symptoms of bigger issues or writing them off as a part of life or something that can't be managed and eventually resolved.
Your calling of raising this child/children is truly a blessing and can be very fulfilling, but at the same time, it demands so much from every part of you as a woman.
Many of the more challenging parts of motherhood, such as lack of good quality and quantity sleep, not being able to relieve stress when it's necessary, taking on too much without enlisting support or being able to delegate, and not advocating for and prioritizing your own emotional and physical needs, can definitely add up if not tended to or managed, so that they eventually contribute to your health being seriously impacted.
So when do you know when things like normal tiredness and feeling a bit run down, has been neglected and now worsened to the point of emotional, physical, and mental burnout?
Signs of burnout
(You may have some or all of these)
- Constant fatigue
- Poor memory, concentration and focus
- Reduced immunity
- Anger, short temper
- Loss of enjoyment
- Feelings of apathy and hopelessness
- Increased irritability
The intensity of these symptoms can range from very mild and barely noticeable, to so serious that it affects your relationships with coworkers and loved ones, or making it very difficult to cope with everyday tasks, which usually warrants urgent medical care.
If you are concerned that what you are experiencing is serious, take a look at a more in-depth explanation of burnout symptoms here.
7 Ways moms can overcome exhaustion to regain their vitality, energy, and zest for life
Have you taken a minute to carefully and objectively consider the list of symptoms above? If you have, you should now be fairly certain whether you are experiencing mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion or burnout.
If your symptoms of burnout do progress to the point of seriously impacting your health, it can take a long time to fully recover. Chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue can seriously influence your everyday life, your relationships, work, and your ability to be a loving and caring parent.
Please consider the following tools and strategies that can help you overcome this.
Be realistic about how long your day actually is
Up till now, you may have counted on having access to more time during the course of each day than you actually do. Yes, you probably get up early and go to bed late, but how many of those hours can you really be productive and active, with the amount of energy and focus you have right now?
An important step in coping with a depleted body and mind is showing yourself generous amounts of care and love. Say for instance you know that you normally would have 8 hours each day during which you are very productive and focused. Right now, with feeling low and exhausted, you may only manage 4 hours without losing your temper or making mistake after mistake, you should then take that into consideration and start to make changes so that your schedule and the family's routine work within that framework.
If you have a job or business to factor into the equation, then I urge you to advocate for your health. Most people are very considerate and supportive when you help them to understand the urgency of a situation and the long-term risks which further neglect could pose to your health and career potential. Enlist the support of your manager, superior, colleagues, partners etc., so that they know what you need and why you need it. That way they can help you cope, recover, and begin to thrive again in your life and career.
Make an inventory of your life
Define your non-negotiable priorities in work and motherhood - those tasks and responsibilities which you definitely can not delegate or outsource (to your children, your husband, or other helpers).
Because burnout results from stress which has built up over time, the first thing you have to do is lighten your mental and physical burden. There are many expectations put on you by others, and by yourself. But which are absolutes, and which can realistically be handed over to others? Write down the non-negotiables, those tasks and responsibilities which you truly feel are essential parts of being a loving mother and wife.
Delegate or outsource
Once you've decided on the tasks and responsibilities that you absolutely must do yourself, and you have defined your healthy and realistic daily schedule, you can then make a list of the things you can hand over to others in the household, at work, or even enlist freelance/contract work.
You might be surprised to find out the wide range of chores and responsibilities which children can help out with even from as young 3 years old. Obviously, you'll have to take into consideration each child's unique physical and mental capabilities, and what is safe for them. But I find that generally, parents tend to underestimate how much their kids can help out in and around the home.
In addition to your children, could you consider some ways in which your husband, friends, and other family members could help you out with household tasks, driving around for the kids, or doing a few small tasks for your business and work?
Until now you may have always been the one who everyone else depends on, the person your friends or loved ones turn to when they need a hand or support. But I strongly encourage you to acknowledge to yourself that you are also worth THEIR love, care, and support. You absolutely deserve to be lifted up when you can no longer cope, and when it becomes apparent that you have carried a heavy load alone for far too long.
Take time off
Every mom needs at least some time off every now and then. One or two days every month can make a big difference, to help you feel refreshed and excited about life again. If you've been feeling burnt out for a while, then you may need more than two nights, and more often than once a month as well, at least when you first start to recover.
The very fact that you have taken on so much for so long, usually tells me that just the thought of getting away without any responsibilities AND without your kids, may have you feeling guilty for wanting to be alone, and you may even start to reconsider and postpone (to eventually cancel) any breaks or trips you do plan.
Don't fall into this trap! Do what you can now, you could even start by taking a fun or relaxing day out with your a girlfriend, this is something that can greatly benefit you, and indirectly your family and work as well.
Do what makes YOU happy - fill your joy cup
For so many moms, their family IS their entire life. In order to feel truly fulfilled and motivated every day, you need something to look forward to. Something to help strengthen your belief that you have a significant purpose in this world. By spending time doing things which you value as being truly meaningful for something or someone besides just you and your family, can invigorate your passion and drive for life.
In doing so regularly, you will gain true joy and fulfillment, which will also benefit those who rely on you, as you will feel more resilient, patient, giving, and caring - not only towards others but also to yourself.
Create healthy habits for stress management
Each person has his/her own way of coping with stress. These can be healthy, to help them manage and reduce stress while supporting their body and mind. Or they can be unhealthy, to simply suppress the tension and anxiety using toxic and damaging behavior that breaks down every part of you over time.
You need to develop healthy habits and strategies to reduce the daily stress in your life as far as possible, and to manage any stress you do experience. When these habits and choices eventually become deeply rooted, they will be effortless and serve to support your good health, decrease health risks, and give you a much better quality of life for a long time to come.
Support your body and mind with healthy eating and exercise habits
The role of proper nutrition and being active regularly, in managing and reducing stress, anxiety, as well as many mood disorders, can not be overstated.
Some of the nutrients which will help your body and brain recover from and cope with stress are:
- B Vitamins (such as Vitamin B Complex)
- Calcium and Magnesium
- Omega-3 Fats
- Glutamine - to help defend the gut against intestinal permeability under stress, and so increase absorption of nutrients
Regular exercise has been shown to significantly improve mood, help the body heal from stress, and even reduce the amount of stress you experience (that is, how stressed you feel) for several hours after a good workout.
Cortisol and Endorphins are two of the hormones involved when your body is active - working at a pace which puts vigorous and increased demand on your muscles and heart.
Cortisol is produced by your body when you experience stress such as anger, anxiety or fear, and it eventually inflames and damages your organs. When you workout your body, it gets rid of cortisol (by burning/using it), which helps you feel better and sleep better.
Endorphins are a type of hormone which can reduce your experience of pain and produce a euphoric feeling. Some say that endorphins can have an even stronger effect than morphine and opium.
When you work out, your brain's pituitary gland is stimulated to release endorphins into the bloodstream, which then serves to improve your mood. This effect is so strong and powerful, that working out regularly is suggested by many experts as a way to manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
You may assume that you don't have enough time or energy to add workouts to your already overflowing schedule. But if you commit to implementing the first three strategies I've suggested above, you may find that you can fit in at least one 20 minute exercise routine every day.
Please know that the way you implement any of these strategies should be unique to your lifestyle, family, and what will be most enjoyable, beneficial, and sustainable for you.
Although I truly believe that all of these suggestions are totally realistic and doable for most moms, right now you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start, or you might not think that you have the energy and focus to do anything more than survive day by day.
I'd love to invite you to chat with me (no strings attached!) so we can get you unstuck and on your way to recovery. We can work through this together, so you can create a lifestyle and schedule that will support you in improving your health and happiness every day, so you can become a vibrant and joyful mom again.
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If this article has been helpful for you, comment below and share with me -
What change will you start to make TODAY, to become a vibrant and fun mom again?