Over the past few weeks, the text messages I received most were what some would label "#SOS." Texts asking me about what's going on in astrology and asking if the day could just be over. Those moments, where your life and relationships and kids and world push you to the edge and you feel more or less like you're "signaling through the flames" to someone you love and trust. Caught.
Burnout sucks. There I said it. It's shitty, it's draining, it is that feeling you've told me about when you're "drowning."
There are 100 ways to talk about burnout, but realistically taking care of yourself in such a way that prevents burnout doesn't become a necessity until your health is truly compromised. At the edge of burnout, medically, are things like cancer, heart failure, adrenal fatigue and malfunction, weight gain, hair loss, depression and the onset of chronic disease. All of which don't sound like fun to manage.
I have written about burnout before, specifically for providers. However, this time is for you and your health. In truth, I have started this post about 6 times according to the revisions in the sidebar, because this material is like gold to me. When writing doesn't flow easily, I know I have to dig my heels into research and conversations. It is time to start exploring what really makes you burnout.
Burnout for a healthcare provider, say a Midwife or OB, is mostly dependent on their lack-of-sleep and self-care routines, but for moms it is a different ball of wax.
As one reader commented on my last burnout piece, a provider can turn their pager off when a mom cannot. This is true, for most providers. They can find the time to physically recover, when a mom doesn't get to turn it off or find that time until her body physically shuts down with illness. If you're like me, you're good at fending off burnout and illness because you have some models of health put into place. For instance:
- You know when you're getting a cold and can feel illness coming on, so you tackle it with nutrition and rest
- You ask for help and support where you need it rather than trying to do it all on your own
- Plan sleep-in days with your partner on the weekend, where you actually get to stay in bed until 9 one day and then they get to do the same the following...tag-teaming at it's finest.
- Have an agreement with your partner that you'll show up for each other when the other is struggling
These are just a few examples that help you prevent the need to signal through the flames to someone.
To avoid getting close to burnout, check and see if these three things are in motion in your life:
A. You have providers on-board that support the philosophy and model of care that works best for you first, and also for your family.
It is important to have a solid, open, communicative relationship with your medical providers of choice, both your allopathic and integrative physicians. To take it one step further, do you choose to see providers that support preventative healthcare as well? When I speak of preventative providers, I am asking if you regularly visit a mental health therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, herbalist, women's health specialist, health coach, or massage therapist. Having these specialists "on-board" regularly and in your budget are crucial to preventative care and preventing you from burnout.
Your role as a busy mom means you have to take care of yourself with additional support and love. Invest in yourself, carve it out of your budget, today. Taking action with regular preventative care is the beginning of a life full of vitality. You will begin keeping the nucleus of the family strong by walking her away from burnout and towards more love. Come on, who doesn't want more love?
B. You know and commit deeply to priorities that improve your life.
When you commit to priorities that improve your life, and your life only, as a mom you're likely to get a big dose of "mommy guilt." This guilt really needs a revolution. Start exploring, instead, what you're worth. Here's the thing, your body produced liquid GOLD (as lactation specialists say) to feed your baby the microbes that will make up it's immune system. That is amazing, truly on a physiologic level. Think about it...You're worth every ounce of learning what is going to best benefit you and leaving the rest that sends you towards burnout at the curb.
No kidding, do it. Make a list today of everything that FEELS like a deeply seeded priority in your life. On that same list, write down what is sort of a priority and also things you just do that totally exhaust you through and through.
When you realize what you can eliminate, do it. Put it in the garberator, or in the trash and walk it to the curb. But that list with your priorities, commit to it. Deeply and daily. Put your priorities somewhere you can see them so they become second nature.
Honor them like you honor your love for your child. Your child needs your health to be the best it can be for their well-being to succeed and flourish (tons of research on that...).
C. Create quality habits and make them non-negotiable. Because I'm a little calendar obsessed (COCD), I have a repeated event in my mornings called "non-negotiables." As I was explaining to a group of moms in January, this is the time of my day spent taking care of myself so I can do this work and serve you, and still have a life. My girlfriend laughed, because she loved that I had something so "non-negotiable" in my calendar everyday, but she also laughed because she said she should have it too.
When you're in a partnership, or have kids, this takes agreement with your others. So if you're going to add a non-negotiable period to your life, figure out the time it benefits and serves you in your daily life and talk to your others to see if it works for them. When you've committed to this time and space, the only thing to knock you off is illness and a very needed rest period.
I take non-negotiable time to heart, because it is the time that helps create incredible results and feelings and vibe in my life. It is a system I've implemented in my life that improves the quality of my life and makes things easier when the day is tough or shitty.
Also (nerd alert), when neuroscientists studied the brains of people who repeat healthy habits each day they found these two things:
- The people who repeat activities daily that benefit their well-being are able to better regulate their stress responses during high stress periods.
- When people are given tools and commit to their regular use when they are not in a peak stress environment (for instance if you learn the tool during a coaching session), they experience less stress, burnout, trauma, PTSD in their lives when high stress events occur.
and D. (which I'm not bolding and only those of you who actually read the post and don't just look for bold points will read and absorb) Stop feeling GUILTY about the things you're not doing in your life or not willing to start. At some point, you will get to them but that will be on your time and your choice.
You have to be READY to do something that will improve your life, bring you more love, increase productivity, allow more play into your life and make a massive difference in your day-to-day.
When you're ready, you take action and the results you will see will be almost immediate. Some will not be immediate, because they will require more work and stimulation and effort but they will pay off in time. All of which will be golden and worth it.
The one thing I want you to explore this week and integrate into your life: What is it worth to you (and your family) to not feel better and make the changes to improve your life? I would really love to hear what you have to say, so please leave your explorations in the comments below.
Thank you for showing up here. As always, it's so much fun to hear what y'all have to say in the comments, here, or via email. I hope you have a fantastic week.
Big, Big Love.