It is no secret that working parents, especially mothers, often struggle with stress and burnout. It can be incredibly overwhelming to manage both home and work life, especially when we are trying to make sure that both are going well.
Mothers often get asked “how do you manage?” and truthfully, sometimes we also don’t know how, and usually the answers are along the lines of “I just manage”, or “I have no choice”. While parenting is a journey that brings us joy, there are also hurdles along the way that we have to work through as we navigate the first years.
While acknowledging that it can be difficult, adopting the right strategies and coping skills that work for us may prove to be hugely beneficial not just in managing stress, but also being able to pick up when symptoms arise to avoid burnout.
- Get the rest we need.
It’s not resting when baby sleeps – majority of us continue with the work when our child(ren) nap, but it is important to make sure that we are taking care of ourself by getting enough rest, eating healthy, and engaging in physical activity.
Parents often forget about self-care, and it is essential for our mental and physical health. The fundamental of caring for others, especially for our love and little ones, is that we need to model that for ourself first.
Unless we fill our jug, it will always be running on empty and usually, begins the loop of blame and guilt on to self, and those around us.
For a person experiencing burnout, sometimes even after a long sleep may also feel restful. It is important to also take mental and emotional rest.
- Take breaks throughout the day, even if it is just for 10 minutes.
Jumping on taking rest, small breaks can help you clear your head and re-energise yourself.
Most times mothers tend to squeeze in an extra chore or task before the next appointment or meeting, resulting in feeling rushed and breathless. Slowing down, knowing that things can be done later may help to bring down the stress cortisol. Further, it is difficult to stay present when our mind is constantly running.
- Allow for work-life integration.
With remote or even hybrid working arrangements, most boundaries are blurred. It can feel pressurising to split and try to balance work, family, health, social circles and other priorities. Integrating them in healthier ways may be a better way of looking at our roles and responsibilities.
During the day, it is hard to just purely focus on work and not tend to our family. After work, it is common to feel like we have to “make up” for the time away from desk, but don’t. You don’t have to feel guilty because when you are at work, you are giving your best. The same would apply to time spent with family and children.
Similarly, when our child or whole family is sick and stuck at home, it can be frustrating when we want to draw clear boundaries. Prioritise what needs to be prioritized in the moment.
- It is vital to have a positive support system.
Having someone to talk to, such as a friend, colleague, or therapist, can provide emotional support and help manage stress. Talking helps because when you verbalise your emotions, they are out of your system, as opposed to keeping mum about struggles that constantly revolve in your head, taking physical, mental and emotional toll on yourself.
Having a therapist may be helpful if you prefer a safe, non-judgmental person with little advice-giving.
- When you can, practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness does not mean we need to be sitting still in quiet space, and honestly, it’s not achievable for a lot of us. What mindfulness can be, can include bringing our attention to the here and now, catching ourselves when we have big reactions or just looking at our partner or children in their eyes for a few moments when they ask for attention.
We can also practice mindfulness when walking or while working out – feel the air on the face, the warmth of the sun on our skin, or try to hear the nearest or farthest sound we ca hear.
- Sharing and asking for support, when you feel safe.
Many of us carry expectations that we need to fulfil both at home and at work, sometimes even socially. Allowing ourselves the space to take a breather, or acknowledging that we can ask for help can also be powerful step we take for ourselves.
While it may feel lonely, know that you are not alone in this journey.
If you are struggling with stress nor burnout at work and at home, with little to no positive support, do reach out for a session with our counsellor. It will be a priviledge for me to hear your story and for us to explore next steps together.