I know that when I’m exhausted and overwhelmed I start to focus on all the things that are going wrong.

Sleep deprivation can trigger the morose in me. I find myself snapping at the kids or feeling too tired to spend “quality time” with them. I start to doubt myself as a mother. Recently I was impacted by the story of a mother who hit breaking point when she was publically shamed.

Many of us try to give 100% to everything we do. We endlessly try to be everything to everyone. Of course, spreading ourselves thin, means we never reach the standard we are capable of if we could focus our full attention. Yet the pursuit of this perfection can lead to burnout or overstress.

I know for myself, I reached a point of living in constant stress where it became normal for me. My family would tell me I’m stressed, however, I would defend my state by claiming “But I’m coping”.


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It wasn’t until studying with the Stress Management Institute that I understood the level of stress I was putting myself under.

Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a study of over 1000 women with one or more children showed that Australian mums are working up to 80 hours a week in both paid employment and running a household. Interestingly, one-third of these women will not take a sick day when they’re ill, yet 70% will take time away from work to care their sick kids. It just shows you how self-sacrificing women are!

And what else do we sacrifice for the wellbeing of others? Perhaps it’s exercise, down time or the time it takes to cook a nutritious meal.

The Stress Management Institute refers to this type of stress as situation stress. That is, having to constantly manage your energy and emotions around contact with other people.

What causes burnout?

Typically, we experience burnout with overload which is normally triggered by excess workload at work. However, overload can be triggered by other aspects of life that have increased demands.

The common causes of burnout can include:

  • Unchallenging or uninspiring activity
  • Working under high pressure consistently
  • Demanding expectations
  • Unsupportive relationships (home or at work)
  • Insufficient breaks from work
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Perfectionism or pessimism
  • Unwillingness to relinquish control

Here are some signs of burnout:

  • Negativity: Okay, I called it morose, but you might call it hopelessness, sadness, guilt, or self-worthlessness.
  • Difficulty sleeping: if you find it difficult to shut off and when you sleep you wake still feeling tired.
  • Loss of appetite: not feeling hungry or quite easily skipping meals.
  • Anti-social: you feel uncomfortable or impatient when someone is trying to talk to you.
  • Lack of motivation: you feel constantly highly uninspired to do the things you once enjoyed or felt okay to do.
  • Missing the mark: failing to complete a project.

So what can I do to prevent burnout?

  • Identify the triggers:  Do some research around stress or better still work with a coach that can objectively identify your stress triggers, while also giving you practical strategies to minimise your stress.
  • Re-evaluate your priorities: Work out what is most important and what things can fall off the list. Become very clear about your personal values and goals and make sure you are not being influenced by other’s expectations of you.
  • Get Good at Saying No: You can rest assured that highly successful people are good at saying no.  They are clear about their priorities and what is the best interest for them.
  • Learn New Time Management Skills: There are alway new methods and new technologies that you can learn about that can greatly reduce your time wasting or improve your efficiency. Look at options for time management training that are going to suit your environment.
  • Get a good nights sleep.  I have to set an alarm to remind myself to shut down the computer or turn off the tv and to start the wind-down process.

How do you stop yourself from burning out? Share with us below. 


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  • Very important that mums can and may slow down when needed. Never under estimate the importance of taking care for yourself first to be able to take care for the other.

    Reply


  • How to prevent it? Well I think I like to give myself extra “lee way” when I feel it coming on and cut back my expectations…. for example I aim to do just 1 thing instead of the 10 I’d planned and I tell myself that is ok; this situation isn’t permanent; it is ok to have a ‘lazy’ patch while things settle down… and at other times it’s all about recognizing the emotions going on that might be sapping me of energy, again allowing myself a break from schedule to process whatever needs to be sorted.

    Reply


  • I do lots of mindfulness activities and ensure I spend time on my hobbies and interests.

    Reply


  • Thank you for this article. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to a few points mentioned in it. Including the way we snap at the kids and other people we see.

    Reply


  • 80 hours? Is that all? Feels like more.

    Reply


  • interesting article, I feel some of those thing quite a lot – I think mine is mostly caused by lack of good quality sleep – thank you for writing and sharing

    Reply


  • That’s a pretty good description of parenting a young kid, isn’t it?

    Reply

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