Most people consider parental burnout to be an inevitable part of parenting. Burnt-out parents feel guilty or ashamed for being exhausted which makes the situation worse. Mental health can be affected if you hide your feelings and don’t do anything about them.
Generally, parents focus on their children’s needs. Parents often neglect their own needs because they devote so much time and energy to raising their children. Parental burnout results from being stressed out to such an extent that you feel as if you can give nothing more. Find out how to deal with parental burnout.
Read: Anticipatory Anxiety
What is parental burnout?
Parental burnout is the result of chronic stress that leads to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. You may find that your child is emotionally distant or irritable, i.e., easily angry.
Some parents who are experiencing the effects of burnout may become forgetful or experience increased anxiety or depression, which may cause them to question their ability as parents. It is common for individuals to feel inadequacies, confusion and isolation.
Burnout occurs when an individual’s demands override their ability to meet them, resulting in prolonged stress. The symptoms of burnout include tiredness, emotional exhaustion, a lack of motivation, a sense of despair, and the inability to enjoy pleasant activities.
Burnout in parenting is a temporary state. There are ways to cope with it and combat it. You can prevent parental burnout by knowing what we know about it.
How do you know if you’re burned out?
The impact of burnout varies from person to person – some people are affected physically while others are affected emotionally – however, the following are some of the most common symptoms.
- An overall feeling of exhaustion or drained energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or doubt
- Muscle aches, headaches and neck pain
- Changing appetites or sleeping patterns
- Sense of loneliness or detachment
- Social withdrawal
Burnout may also lead to drug or alcohol abuse. Many people do this as a form of coping, numbing out, or trying to calm themselves down.
Read: Postpartum Anxiety
Mental health effects of parental burnout
Burnout affects parents by exhausting them, causing emotional distance from their children, and causing a perception that they are inadequate parents. The effects of these factors can be very detrimental to your mental health.
You may experience a variety of mental health effects from parental burnout, depending on your level of burnout:
- Brain fog
- Short temper (limited tolerance)
- High levels of stress
- Isolated feelings
- Poor sleep
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
You may experience mental health issues due to parental burnout. When you experience burnout, hormonal imbalances can develop, resulting in a diminished desire for sex.
People who have chronic insomnia face a greater risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Chronic stress can also negatively affect your health.
Parents who feel burnt out may also find it difficult to maintain relationships. This drug can result in communication breakdowns and tension increases. Ineffective communication may result in misunderstandings, arguments and resentment.
Your connection to your children can also be affected by parental burnout. If you don’t feel connected to them, or like you are just doing things for them, it can be very frustrating. The emotional distance between you and your child may impact your child’s development, ultimately leading to problems in the future.
Read: Postnatal Anxiety
What’s driving burnout and who’s at risk?
It’s a well-known fact that parents burnout frequently. It has been happening for years, especially since women began entering the workforce in large numbers during the last century. COVID-19 has caused parents to experience an increased level of anxiety and stress.
COVID-19 has contributed to an exponential increase in parental burnout reports over the last 18 months. Parental burnout has worsened significantly since the pandemic, and the reasons for this are numerous. Stress and anxiety have increased as a result of parents losing their jobs, houses and income.
There are some parents concerned about where they will get their next meal. Many of the children are completing virtual school at home, contributing to the problem as well, as they do not know how to feed their kids. Parents had to teach their children as well as their parents.
Those with inadequate coping skills are also considered “at-risk” according to psychologists. A person who lacks adequate coping skills is intolerant of frustration, or does not possess good resilience abilities is more likely to experience burnout.
Read: How to Stop Worrying
Treatment of parental burnout
The challenging and rewarding aspects of raising children go hand in hand. The early years of a child’s life are likely to be characterized by sadness and exhaustion. It is crucial that you recognize the signs and symptoms of parental burnout so you can put a stop to them before they escalate.
Take some time for yourself, ask for help, and allow yourself to refocus. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re worried about your well-being, energy levels or mental health. If you need additional tips or tricks to manage your symptoms, you can speak to a mental health professional.
How to prevent parental burnout
Burnout happens sometimes, but there are steps you can take to prevent it:
- Hire a sitter or ask for help
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Exercise regularly
- Be realistic about your goals
- Provide your child with age-appropriate chores
- Make your own life easier
How to deal with burnout
You’re not a bad person, regardless of whether or not you are nearing or have already reached the breaking point. Living in this way shouldn’t be an option. It is possible to cope.
Speak to your partner, spouse or co-parent
Talking to your spouse, co-parent, partner, or loved one is one of the first things you can (and should) do if you feel burned out.
Describe your situation – and the feelings you’re experiencing. You must be honest. When you’re struggling, overworked or overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to admit it. Describe concrete steps you need, if your situation allows it.
Getting enough sleep is vital to mental well-being. There is no doubt about that. Sleeping enough can be difficult for parents, particularly with newborns and small children at home. However, prioritize sleep as far as possible.
Exercise may seem counterintuitive if you’re feeling tired or drained, but it can actually give you more energy. Find the time to exercise, or make the time. Exercise is also beneficial for reducing stress.
Take time to rest whenever possible
Stressed out? Exhausted? How high is your level of stress? During this time, take some time to relax, for example, by consuming a warm beverage. Spend some time on the living room sofa watching cartoons or listening to music. You need to be creative.
Create a support system
Many people benefit from having a supportive partner or spouse, but they need more assistance. Additionally, they may lack domestic support or resources. Joining a parenting group can help you meet other like-minded parents. They can also make you feel understood, heard, and acknowledged.
It is a good idea to find a childcare provider or sitter when you need a break. A psychologist or therapist may be able to help if you still feel overwhelmed. It is sometimes helpful to talk things through in order to gain another perspective or insight that can support us in being better able to be joyful.
Do not give up
You can raise a healthy child. It is possible (and does happen) to experience frustration and exhaustion. We all experience it sometimes. Almost all parents experience burnout at some point. The key is to take care of yourself.
It is important to comprehend your feelings. “You don’t need to be a super parent or mom to deal with everything. Take care of yourself. It’s okay to feel vulnerable. It’s impossible to do everything. Kindness is key.
Self-care is essential
The importance of self-care cannot be overstated, even though sometimes it seems impossible. Each morning, give yourself a moment to breathe and reflect on what is important to you. When you have time, meditate or write in your journal. It is both physically and mentally relaxing to bathe at the end of the day. Bathing helps you relax and unwind.
You could also practice a short yoga routine at the end of the day. Exercising can also be beneficial.
Burnout is a common problem. It is often caused by external pressures. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with it. You do not have to accept exhaustion, fatigue, and stress as a part of your life.