As a nurse and working parent myself, I understand that it can be hard to find the “balance” in home life and work life.
I try to encourage all parents to be mindful of their health to prevent stress and burnout. Although being a parent is a wonderful experience for many, it can leave some, especially ones with newborns and young children, feeling vulnerable, exhausted and often overwhelmed. However, finding time to take care of you is crucial to preventing parental burnout, employee burnout, and help maintain inner emotional balance.
If you don’t take care of yourself, then it will be hard to take care of your loved ones. You have to fill your own cup so you’re not running on empty.
The following are some warning signs of parental burnout:
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Being frustrated
• Ongoing irritability
• Withdrawal or emotional detachment from your partner or children
• Ongoing fatigue
• Not enjoying things that usually bring you fulfillment
• A negative mindset on life, work, family, not feeling like yourself
Stress can lead to anxiety and anxiety can lead to depression. There is such a thing as good stress, known as eustress, which is a stress that leads to a positive response, such as preparing for a big goal or event in your life.
Here are a few tips to help you prevent parental exhaustion and burnout.
No one can read your mind, and while you could do it all yourself, you shouldn’t have to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to family and friends for support. Talk with your employer about benefits that can support you as a parent. Communicating your feelings is never a weakness. It shows great strength, and in return you get the support and connection that is crucial to aiding in preventing burnout and increase your overall health.
2. Self-care = self-love
You know yourself best. You know what truly fills you up, from the daily little things to big planned trips with family or friends. Taking little steps every day to fill yourself up isn’t selfish. Do something that brings you joy and will help you feel fulfilled. If you know you are happiest when sitting quietly with a coffee in hand and some reading or music before work, then try to make that a priority. Perhaps it’s going for a walk, doing yoga, meeting with friends a time or two a month for dinner, or taking a bath at the end of the night. Write a list of things you love and enjoy and then add it to your calendar so it actually happens. Ensure you protect this time and make it a priority – you will thank yourself. At the end of the day you will see the impact it has on your mental health and see the positive impact it has on your family and work.
3. Regular exercise
Research shows exercise and movement improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative moods, it also helps improve self-esteem and cognitive function. Being active can also help you get better sleep.
4. Avoid comparing yourself to other parents
You are more than enough as a parent. Everyone is doing her/his best and you have to remember to not compare yourself to others. You can certainly add things you see other parents doing that benefit your family, however, never compare someone else’s life and journey to yours. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparison but all that accomplishes is adding pressure, stress, feelings of inadequacy, steals away joy, and most importantly takes away the great work and joy that you do as a parent.
5. Do what works for you
Be authentically and unapologetically you. No one is a perfect parent and there is no manual to this thing called “parenting.” If you notice you are putting added pressure on yourself to be ‘’the perfect parent’’ remind yourself that there is no such thing. Do what works for and your family and be confident in those choices. Most important, surround yourself with like-minded parent friends.
6. Don’t forget to breathe
Connect with your breathing by placing one of your hands on your chest. This is a way to regulate emotions and connect to the present moment. Doing this helps you feel calm and centers you. It also helps you focus and think more clearly, which in turn helps us to respond effectively to stress as opposed to reacting to stressful situations.
7. Meal planning
Food is nourishment and health. I always recommend to parents to try to meal prep and even freeze meals ahead of time if they can. If you can meal prep the week’s worth of meals on a Sunday, it makes the rest of the week run more smoothly. Meal planning can save time, money, and ensure your family is eating a well-balanced healthy meal.
8. What you think
Using words of affirmations can help your mindset. What you think and say to yourself can have a direct impact on your life and those around you. Telling yourself positive thoughts can positively impact your life; it can give you feelings of joy, peace, well-being, and confidence. Establishing a daily habit to tell yourself intentional positive words is key to self-care. A great example is instead of dreading getting up in the morning, be positive and say out loud, “I am grateful for a new day of life,” and then get up and have a great day.
9. Making the time for important relationships
As humans we thrive on connections and other people. Parenting can make you feel isolated. You should make time to see your family and friends. It is also important to look after your relationship with your partner and have “date nights.” Schedule time in the evening after your children are asleep or go out on a lunch date during the work week to stop and connect and communicate about the day. Making time to nourish your relationships will help increase communication, teamwork and keep you feeling more fulfilled. Arrange a babysitter and stay present when you are away from your children and connecting with your partner or friends. This will contribute towards healthy relationships as well as reducing stress and burnout.
10. Remember to be kind to yourself!
Quoida Lauzon is a Capital District mom and a Registered Nurse who specializes in maternal and infant health, breastfeeding and childbirth education. Connect with her on social media @nurse.q.lauzon or visit nurseq.com.