Sometimes life is fantastic. It feels as if you won the lottery, everything is going great, your meals are well planned and taste delicious, you are on top of all your chores, work and life balance is smack dab in the middle, bluebirds are singing, your coffee was strong and hot this morning and the sun is shining bright! It feels like you are killing this life thing! Your mantra is: Bring it on Life, Thank you Universe! You go to sleep with a smile on your face and you wake up with it still on. Life is good!
Then, with little or seemingly zero warning, everything goes belly up. You can’t sleep well or you pass out after putting the kids down from sheer exhaustion. You and your partner are at each other’s throats, conversation is strained at best. Work and life balance is so out of kilter you don’t even know how to plan for it to get better. Chores, cleaning up around the house, forget it, meals, forgot to shop, better scrounge up something or order in. The desire to cry is causing your heart to race and your face to squeeze into an ugly grimace.
Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and burned out is something that can happen anytime of year, but there is something about summertime that makes it feel very pronounced. We are balancing work and personal responsibilities often alongside caring for our vacationing children, who are off from school and have nothing to do for nine weeks. Nine weeks can seem like an eternity after them being home for a good portion of 2020 and 2021. All the things we are trying to juggle become tenuous, we just don’t have the strength to keep up anymore.
COVID exhaustion adds another layer to our feelings of burnout. Can we safely travel, do we go back to the office, how do we prepare our kids to go back to school full time, do we wear masks all the time even if we are vaccinated, what are safe activities for our kids who cannot be vaccinated yet, how much should we worry about the Delta Variant? The questions that swirl through our mind are like a blizzard, it is hard to focus on any of our worries individually, they seem to melt together like ice cream on a hot day.
We live in a society that praises the busy, the person and people who can balance their job, children, responsibilities and personal life with ease and grace. No one wants to be the one to complain, we want to be able to do it all, isn’t that what being a responsible human is all about, working hard and enjoying the fruits of our labors? No my darlings, it seems we were sold a very believable lie, but even the best juggler is going to drop their pins or plates when their arms get tired.
Which brings us to our Self Care tips to reduce feelings of burnout:
Sleep is essential
- Go to sleep early, this is of course relative, but 7-9 hours of sleep is what is recommended. So if you are setting your alarm for 5:30 am, your bedtime should be around 10.
- Remove technology from your bedroom, as well as all light (put dark tape over all the little lights that emanate from power cords and install dark curtains.
- Install a ceiling fan and/or buy a tower fan, good sleep occurs when you are cool.
- Invest in good sheets, pillows, blankets and comfortable pajamas.
Take a break
- Plan a vacation, staycation or just a night away.
- Leave the premises during your lunch break, even if it means sitting in your car and chilling.
- Plan a weekend trip involving nature, visit a beach, river or lake, go on a hike, sit outside in your backyard.
- Be okay with being bored
- Learn to sit still without a phone or book, go on a walk without listening to music and pass time without entertainment or someone to talk to. Our brains are hardly ever at rest, learn to cultivate this skill.
Learn to say No
- We want to please our partner and be the cool parent to our children, but we have to learn to say no to requests that stretch us too thin.
- Post lockdown there are a lot more invitations for get togethers and events, if going will bring you joy, go, if it will make you miserable and cause you to feel more behind and stressed, politely decline.
- If you are already starting to feel like an uber driver for your children’s activities, it is time to scale down, find another parent to carpool with, plan alternative transportation or find something closer to home.
Learn to care for yourself like you would for someone else and when feelings of burnout start to arise, address them, find a way to remedy the situation, not bury your head further in the sand. Life shouldn’t feel like a constant march across the desert, in other words, torturous. Self care is the antidote, checking in with yourself, taking care of yourself, learning to say no. It is a journey, not a sprint, be patient as you learn to care for yourself in a better, more intuitive way.
To better days ahead,