We may be in the same storm but we are not all on the same boat. Some are on super-yachts while others are clinging onto a float.
By now, it’s almost guaranteed that you may have experienced some form of ‘pandemic burnout’. Leaving them unaddressed may take you down a spiralling hole. So, it’s important that we recognise signs of burnout and have proactive ways to manueuvre out of it.
The pandemic is hard for anyone but as carers of others, such as parents, it does add another dimension of difficulty. If you remember back to the days when we were flying around in planes, usually the safety message went like this…
“Oxygen masks will drop down from above your seat. Place the mask over your mouth and nose. Pull the strap to tighten it. If you are travelling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children”.
Why is it important to put your own mask on before assisting your children? Because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask.
The same principal applies on the ground. As a parent, if you can’t look after yourself, focus or get motivated, become negative and cynical or simply running on empty, how could you possibly take good care of your children?
Similarly, if you are a people leader at work, you can’t lead your team to greatness if you are feeling exhausted and depleted.
awareness = opportunity to adjust = proactive stress management
Symptoms of burnout can vary from person to person, but if you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to take a step back and recalibrate.
1. Find it hard to focus
Do you find yourself reading the same two lines over and over again or struggling to follow what’s being said in a meeting? Is a usual task taking longer or feeling harder to complete? You may have too much on your plate.
What can you do?
Firstly, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Sometimes you don’t have to do everything yourself. If the laundry is piling up, it maybe the perfect opportunity to teach the kids how to operate the washing machine safely. Set realistic expectations on yourself, don’t over-commit and end up overwhelmed.
2. Self-care has gone out the window
Self-care is vital for everyone, but especially so for those that take care of others. When you find yourself eating unhealthily, skipping meals or exercise – it’s going to take a toll on your health.
What can you do?
Keep reminding yourself ‘to take care of others, start by taking care of yourself’. Part of that simply means coming to the realisation that you are also important, and you don’t ignore your needs and the things that make you feel good unnecessarily. If you are skipping meals, pre-packaged fresh food like youfoodz can be a massive time saver and they taste alright.
3. You’re showing physical signs of stress
Physical symptoms of stress can include feeling restless, exhaustion or trouble sleeping, headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, muscle tension stomach or digestive problems.
What can you do?
Start by understanding what is stressing you out. Once you know what it is, write it down and start devising your action plan. Tackle issues one at a time, tick them off and celebrate the wins. Even the smallest of wins can make the biggest difference.
4. You lack motivation and you’re getting negative
Are you losing interest in things you once enjoyed? Are you snapping more often? Is every little thing getting on your nerve? Do you even know what you’re angry about or is it just a permanent state of being cranky? These are all signs of you reaching the point of burnout.
What can you do?
Take a deep breathe. Pause, give yourself a few minutes to chill. A 10 or even 30 minutes break is truly unlikely to spell the end of the world and you will thank yourself later. Think of it as a fast charge or refresh to snap yourself out of a negative mindset. Our 8 ways to lift your mood may be helpful.
Many things in life can be spontaneous but planning for breaks should be deliberate. Here are some helpful tips:
Agree and communicate break times and help each other stick to it. You can even do this with young kids, tell them you need 15 minutes to yourself, and they need to keep themselves occupied for that duration (TV/iPad + snacks are useful tools)
Set an alarm on your phone, google home to prompt you to take your break
Plan what you will do during your break, it should be something that you enjoy, not a chore
Pay attention to how you feel during your break, the positive experience will motivate you to take breaks in the future.
The bottom line
It can be hard to recognise when it’s time to hit pause when we’re caught in the daily grind, but the truth is, everyone needs a break from time to time. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first!
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