How To Recover From Parental Burnout
What is Parental burnout
Parental burnout is reaching a state of exhaustion. This happens from an imbalance of parenting duties and being able to take care of oneself. Parental burnout is due to too much stress for too long, we know this from recent research. This exhaustion can be physical, emotional, and mental. This post is based on how to recover from parental burnout, but it also helps with preventing it.
Some Signs Of Parental Burnout
Burnout does not occur suddenly, it is a buildup of neglecting one’s own needs over a period of time. There are stages that lead to burnout. Therefore, it is important to look out for some signs that you could be giving too much to others and not enough to yourself. This can prevent burnout because you can make some positive changes early on.
Feelings of helplessness, loneliness, or trapped
Easily irritated and short temper
Anxiety or panic
Aches and pains
Low immune system
Overeating or undereating
Loss of motivation
Loss of sense of identity
Low energy and tired all the time
How to Recover From Parental Burnout?
If you experience burnout then there are lots of things you can do to recover. It often leads us to realise that a lot of ways which we were living by, were all contributing to reaching the state of exhaustion. The good news is that making positive changes means we can live a happier and healthier life.
Self care is not a reward or luxury, it is a human need. Be compassionate with yourself, and speak to yourself how you’d talk to someone you love. Be sure to prioritise time to do the things that make you feel calm and happy. Remember to forgive yourself, Being too harsh with ourselves is a big risk for burnout.
Write a letter as if you’re telling people how you feel. When I gave birth to my daughter I had very little support while healing postpartum. This was a very difficult time and I was facing mum burnout. I wrote a letter expressing how I was feeling and thanking a kind lady who tried to help me one day, this really helped me get through a difficult time. You can read the letter I wrote here. You don’t necessarily need to show anyone your letter, sometimes it just helps to get everything out as if people are listening.
Gratitude and Affirmations. Start your day with gratitude and affirmations. We are most influenced by our thoughts in the morning so be sure to fill your mind with plenty of positivity while sipping your morning coffee or tea!
Take regular quiet moments to yourself. You could go into the garden with a drink and notice the calmness of the plants and birds for example.
Do something that makes you feel like you. Remember being a parent is not your only identity, it is just one of them. We can feel like we have lost our identity when we become a parent. This is because we love and care for our children so much, that we can forget about how important it is to feel connected to ourselves too.
Create something which is all about you. You can redecorate your room to reflect what makes you feel cozy, while thinking of colours and decor which feel like your personality. you could create a vision board with pictures and quotes that inspire you and reflect who you are.
Speak up for yourself
When you need to say no, allow yourself to say no. Establish clear boundaries. Let go of the pressure to be a perfect parent or to do all of the things you feel are expected.
Lay out clear boundaries. Firstly, identity your values and needs. Learn to communicate these to family, friends, and other groups of people. This can be difficult at first when we are not used to communicating our boundaries but it does get better over time, especially as it starts to strengthen your emotional wellbeing and relationships.
Ask for help. Ask for help before you reach exhaustion, no one really gains anything from trying to do it all themselves all the time. I know this can be harder said than done, and many people do not have a large support network. Taking little breaks regularly can prevent you from doing too much.
Join a support group. Seek out support groups in your local area, you can usually find other people who have similar feelings to you, and there are a lot more people in the same position as yourself. Have a look online for support groups like Facebook where you can speak to people, you can often find other people you can relate to. Connection is important for our well-being.
Learn your limits. Often times people don’t learn their limits until they go over them. To prevent this, start listening to your body and its needs. If you need rest, don’t ignore it. If you need time to chat with other adults, reach out. If you need time to yourself, plan out some self care time. Our bodies are very good at protecting us and we need to respect their signals and try not to ignore them.
Speak to a therapist. I highly recommend reaching out for therapy if you feel like you need to. You can learn valuable tools for life and it is a piece of time in your week which is for you.
Change your perspective
Sometimes parental burnout can happen because our expectations of ourselves have been too harsh for too long. Our worthiness does not come from how productive we can be, or how many times we say yes to people instead of no. Our worthiness comes from within, and knowing who we are and respecting who we are. Sometimes we need to rethink our perspective of what’s important because our health and emotional well-being should always be a priority.
Start catching your thoughts when they are negative, and work on changing your perspective. For example, if you often say to yourself “what is wrong with me, why do I feel like this” instead say to yourself “what is my body trying to tell me that I need right now?” You can also read ways to transform negative self talk.
Write a small manageable to-do list, and reevaluate your expectations of yourself. You can get a great sense of achievement from ticking off small tasks on your list. This can help with feeling overwhelmed. They can be something like “wash hair”, “eat 2 of my 5 a day” or, “change the bed sheets”. Don’t apologise for prioritising the things that are important to you and your family, and letting go of the things that are too energy-consuming.
Know that you do not need to aim for “perfect parenting”. The pressure to be a perfect parent is neither realistic nor necessary. As healthychildren.org explain, there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child.
Clean your social media. Look at what you are unintentionally consuming through social media, and unfollow groups or people who may contribute to any negativity. Follow people who you feel have the same values as you. A good social media clean-up is always worth it.
Check your social groups. Check that the people you are choosing to socialise with are people who support you, and contribute to your overall sense of happiness. We are influenced by the people we spend time with, far more than we are aware of.
Let me know in the comments what helps you to stay happy and healthy as a parent so you don’t need to recover from parental burnout!