10 Tips to understanding and preventing Burnout during Lockdown

Have you ever suffered burnout?  Are you worried about ‘Burning Out’ during #stayhome? In this article I will provide some useful information about burnout and some tips to either prevent or overcome burnout while in isolation.

I am a Mum with 2 small children and I work from home on an ongoing basis.  I have juggled the demands of employers, clients, household and children for the past 6 years and I have also suffered and overcome burnout during this time.

How did I know I was burnt out?  Burnout presents itself differently for each person but I think my symptoms were fairly typical;

  • Exhausted but unable to sleep.
  • Mood swings, anxious and feeling erratic.
  • Low energy but hungry all the time.
  • Time scarcity, there were never enough hours in the day.
  • A feeling of overwhelm for household tasks like washing, ironing and cleaning.
  • A sense of urgency that never went away and a feeling that I was letting everybody down.
  • Reliant on caffeine to get through the day.
  • Brain fog, forgetting where I left things and what I had done the day before.
  • Body aches and pains, hair loss and unhealthy-looking skin.
  • Abnormal blood tests: hormones, liver function and so on.

It took me a long time and many trips to the Dr to figure out I was suffering with Burnout.  I had always been a very capable, high-achieving woman with lots of responsibility at work and little changed after I became a mum.  So much so that my employers and clients from around the world trusted me to carry on managing their projects from home, whilst breast feeding and looking after young kids.

In 2018 it all came to a head, when I reached breaking point.  All of the symptoms above, I had tried to treat individually, spending a fortune to visit doctors, therapists; massage and acupuncturists, psychologists, liver specialists etc.  Then one evening I decided to just sit and just read a magazine, a novelty and a luxury for me.  I read a tiny article in the back of one health magazine and a light bulb came on!

“I had burnout, but not just any old burn out.  I had Adrenal Burnout!” 

The more I researched, read and discovered the more I was convinced I had it.  It is a condition that is not often diagnosed as many of us treat each symptom individually as I did, but collectively they all make up part of a much larger problem.

It’s not hard to find yourself suffering with the effects of burnout as a Mum, because the long days, often sleepless nights, constant juggle of work, life and household is an ongoing and real challenge that never really stops.  We assume so many roles throughout our day that it’s hard to focus on self-care and we can find ourselves making unhealthy choices and neglecting our physical, emotional and mental health.

Currently we find ourselves under even more pressure, with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and isolation, and it’s easy to see why many Mums may start to feel symptoms of burnout quite quickly, if we don’t practise good self-care during this time.

So, what are some simple and practical self-care tips you can do at home to avoid or recover from burnout?

  1. Prioritise sleep and getting enough rest. Lack of quality sleep is a fast track to burnout as well as other mental and physical health conditions which you want to avoid during this time.
    • You may like to become ‘European’ and set a siesta time each day for yourself and the kids.
    • Create a consistent bed-time routine for yourself. Switch off the lights in the house to make it darker, put your phone away on silent, shower, read, meditate, stretch and get into bed feeling calm and ready for a restful sleep.
    • A consistent end time to each day will enable you to turn off from all the roles you’ve assumed throughout your day, which includes work and household chores so you can draw a line under the day, and prepare yourself for a night to recharge mentally and physically.
  2. Create a relaxation Island in your home.
  • Find a quiet corner where you can set up a relaxation island. Use a yoga mat or rug on the floor with a comfy cushion and either some nice ornaments or your favourite holiday photo nearby.
  • The relaxation island is now a permanent feature of your living space, you can go to the island whenever you need it throughout the day.
  • Use your relaxation island to stretch, meditate or just lay down and breathe while listening to relaxing music.
  • There are dozens of free relaxation tracks on YouTube, work your way through them.
  1. Daily Exercise either alone or with your children, just move your body and have fun.
  • At least 30mins each day.
  • Walk, run, cycle or bounce on a trampoline if you have one.
  • Have a disco, play soccer or handball, play tag or hide and seek in the house.
  • “Don’t seek the sofa, seek your sneakers and hit the pavement not the wall.” Krissy Regan, The Wellness Poet.
  1. Review your diet and overall lifestyle.
  • Poor diet, caffeine and alcohol exacerbate the effects of burnout.
  • Be sensible during this time and make some changes in your diet which will improve your health and build your immune system.
  • Be mindful that mental fatigue is not the same as physical fatigue and whilst it’s common not to exercise due to mental fatigue the best antidote to mental fatigue is exercise.
  • If your living and working space is small find creative ways to exercise and use what you have to improve your health. Tins of beans as weights, chairs to do arm dips, steps to do step ups.  Large parts of the day spent sitting or laying down will not help burnout, the key is move your body as much as you can throughout your day.
  1. Start each day with a moment of gratitude.
  • Before you get out of bed in the morning think about what you are already grateful for today. It could be that your child slept through the night, that you are healthy, that it’s a sunny day.  Something simple but important creates an anchor for you to reach for throughout the day.
  • Avoid grabbing your phone first thing in the morning to check your emails or the news. Take those few minutes more to ease into your day with feelings of gratitude that make you feel calmer and you will find more things to appreciate as the day goes on.
  • Choose clothes to wear that make you feel joyful and comfortable. PJ days are fun but it’s also nice to wear your nice clothes at home sometimes.
  1. Start a Journal to write down your thoughts and feelings.
  • Creating some new and healthy habits during this time will help you to continue them going forward. Journaling is a great healthy habit.
  • Writing in a journal helps you see yourself more clearly. It’s only through our own self-awareness, including the good and no so good, lets call them growth opportunities, that you can start to have a better relationship with yourselves and others.
  • “Journaling is a window into your soul that showcases what is in your mind, what is wrong with your body and where to find your spirit.” Krissy Regan, The Wellness Poet.
  • You can do it before bed as part of your new bedtime routine.
  1. Kick-start a new hobby or re-ignite an old one.
  • Hobbies are just for you and whilst others can appreciate them, reclaiming your hobbies is a fundamental step of spiritual self-care because squandering your gifts brings you distress.
  • Look through all your old photos and remind yourself what you enjoyed doing as your younger self, this will inspire you to set some new intentions.
  1. Turn your kitchen into a Zen Den.
  • Spending more time in the kitchen during lockdown is inevitable. Making the kitchen a calming and relaxing place to be is so important.
  • Put on some relaxing music, burn some incense or candles and go about your chores while drifting off on a zen cloud, breathing in and out whilst not worrying about your To Do Lists.
  • Get your family involved and set the timer, chores will get done much faster when you are on the clock. When the space is tidy you sit and have tea and biscuits!
  1. Change your scenery.
  • A change of scenery is as good as holiday and good for your soul. It also brings new perspective to your environment and you may start to see things differently and feel happier.
  • Declutter your cupboards and living spaces.
  • Decorate, put pictures up, move your furniture around.
  • Repurpose your old exercise equipment or dvds.
  • Get some indoor plants which make space feel calming and more relaxing.
  • Pack a picnic and make another room the focal point for the day. A teddy bear picnic, eye spy from the bedroom window, crazy faces in the mirror!
  1. Forgive yourself.
  • If you feel like you are not doing this whole thing well enough and you want your old life back, that’s ok, it’s normal. Give yourself a break.
  • Write down all the things you can forgive yourself for.
  • Wake up each day, knowing you are enough and just by showing up each day for your family, you are doing your best.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and try not to go on a downward spiral.
  • We can think about our emotions and we can get emotional about our thinking.
  • You may need to tell your thoughts to take a holiday if you find you are starting to think and feel negatively during this time.
  • Switch off and disengage from unhelpful forms of media and painful images and don’t get caught up in unnecessary dramas. Focus your energy in your life and in your home.

 

If you maybe suffering with burnout, I recommend you talk to a Doctor that practices Integrative Medicin,e who will know the right tests needed to pin point the root of the problem, and then you can focus treatment for your burnout accordingly.  I have overcome burnout by implementing all the tips above and having better self-care and clearer boundaries in my work and family life at home.

Making a list of what ‘Sustains You and what Drains You’ and developing a personalised self-care plan is great first step.  Remember that self-care is not selfish and that sensible expectations last forever.

Krissy Regan is Founder of Mindful Mums Queensland @mindfulmumqld and author of the new book Broken to Unbreakable, 12 Steps to and Unbreakable Mind, Body and Spirit.  Krissy studied Exercise Science and Sports Management and has spent the last 20 years managing projects for clients all over the world.  In 2018 she recognised she was suffering from Burnout and created her own 12 Step Plan to rebuild her Mind, Body and Spirit.  Krissy wrote Broken to Unbreakable whilst working part-time at home, raising 2 small children and juggling the demands of her household.

You can contact Krissy Regan at mindfulmumsqld@gmail.com  or follow on Mindful Mums Qld on Facebook and Instagram @mindfulmumsqld

 

You may also like to read:

Self-care tips to prevent burnout

5 tips to make self-care part of your day