Since having a baby and starting my own business, I have simply failed to figure out how to slow my roll. In addition to taking care of our infant, I still feel compulsion to keep the house lovely, keep myself fit, clean, and pulled together, and do as many safe, social things as the calendar and ongoing pandemic allows. This resulted in me feeling stressed and exhausted…not good! I knew I needed some tips to avoid burnout so I raised this topic at my last therapy session, “I don’t know how to slow down my pace so I feel less stressed and exhausted, yet I know I am the one “doing this” to myself! How do I fix it?”
“I have seen hundreds of Moms go through this and I can tell you from experience, you are literally setting yourself up for failure,” she said.
Yikes. I eagerly listened and jotted down the ideas to prevent burnout:
Build in Low-Key Days
Instead of doing 683 things all day every day, give yourself permission to take a couple of days, say Tuesdays and Thursdays as less-productive days. More reading, more time for leisurely walks outside, maybe even a nap, not going at a breakneck pace where every minute of every nap and every second of every day is spent going, doing.
Relax…and Don’t Feel Guilty About it
I feel guilty when I fall asleep at 7:30 PM anyway so I should not feel guilty when I take 20 minutes to sit down with a book or take a power nap (but I did.) Work and housework are always going to be there. Even if it feels uncomfortable, force yourself to be less productive and do something low key like reading, walking outside, meditating, or journaling.
Set More Realistic Goals
The goals I had been setting for myself were ridiculous. Instead of putting pressure on myself to do 10 things (my default setting), I needed to pick 1 or 3 things to get done. Sure it was going to be hard to lower my expectations and lower the bar, but I would figure it out, right?
Unfortunately, before I had the chance to try and do less each day, the universe decided to “help” me.
The morning of the NFC Championship game, I took care of baby, did Coach Kimmy’s abs class, and got ready for the game (this is definitely doing too many things in the course of two hours, FYI). During the second half, as I was racing back up the huge stadium steps to my seat, my left foot rolled to the outside. I was hoping for a sprain/strain. The next day I got an X-Ray and learned I broke my fifth metatarsal in two places. On came the walking boot. Follow up X-ray in 4 weeks. No more 3/week cross country skiing. No more paddle tennis on Wednesday nights. No more winter running with Ritz our chocolate Labrador. No more CK Burpees. The list goes on and on. Devastated felt like an understatement.
After I decided my 48-hour pity party was over, I took it in stride, with my head held high. I made das boot jokes. I told Coach Kimmy I’d be back next week for abs, upper body, and non-weight bearing leg stuff to keep my hips and legs strong. I still authored and delivered my client’s weekly thought leadership blogs and got my monthly invoicing out. I finally asked others for help walking the dog, carrying the baby upstairs, etc. It’s humbling. I know I'm physically forced to slow down right now, but I promise to take my own medicine and try these burnout prevention tips to slow my breakneckfoot pace once I heal, too.
How do you deal with burnout? I'd love to hear from you and share your comments with readers, too!
Photography by Julie Gile Photography.