Can you believe it is almost February of 2017? I feel like 2016 flew by in a flash. I love the start of a new year. It’s a chance for me to take stock of what I have accomplished and reflect on where I have been. As I looked back on 2016 there were tons of great accomplishments to be proud of (I did a lot!) but I when I really looked closely I noticed there was a theme to how I felt a lot of the year… I was EXHAUSTED! What I realize now is that I completely burned myself out. I spent the better part of the year trying to do it all and be it all to everyone and everything. Do you ever feel that way? I am starting to notice it more and more, not only in myself, but also among my friends, clients and peers as well. It’s an epidemic!
I feel like burnout is one of those warning flags in life that we high-achieving, overwhelmed, working mommas really need to be on the lookout for, but sadly—often due to our “I can do it all” mentality — we rarely see it coming. Because we are often so passionate about our work and our families, we tend to ignore the fact that we are “on” for crazy long hours, that we’re taking on WAY more than any normal person should try and handle, and that we are putting unbelievable pressure on ourselves to do it all perfectly. All of these things make us especially vulnerable to burnout.
Burnout is defined (it really does have a definition!) as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment”.
Could you be headed for a burnout? Here are ten signs that you may be burned out and not even know it!
You just can’t seem to kick that cold. Burnout has a huge impact on your physical and mental health and can lead to you feeling sick constantly. Maybe you can’t seem to kick that cold or your neck has been killing you for what seems like forever. Perhaps you have been feeling a bit depressed or your anxiety is through the roof. Whatever your symptoms, if you find that you just can’t get well, you may be suffering from burnout. Stop and take a minute to consider how your stress level is contributing to your overall health.
You feel like you are all over the place. Ever feel like you are losing your mind? Like you just can’t keep up with everything you have going on? Maybe you forgot that it was crazy hat day at school or to send that important email at work. Maybe you just feel like your brain doesn’t function the way it used to. If you are experiencing any of these things, you may be experiencing burnout. Stress literally beats up your brain. Specifically it messes with your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain responsible for memory, decision-making, emotional control and focus. If you notice that you are having issues focusing or remembering things, you’re not losing it, you are likely suffering from burnout!
You’re exhausted… all the time.
Are you exhausted, even after a good night’s sleep? Do you feel like you need a caffeine IV just to make it through the day? This type of fatigue and exhaustion is a sure sign there is something going on with you. If you are feeling this way, burnout may be the culprit. Stress takes a huge toll on both your body and mind which leads to exhaustion. If you are burned out, even eight hours of sleep and naps won’t help. No matter how much sleep you get your body and mind will still feel the fatigue brought on by stress.
You’re sleeping, but not all that well. Speaking of sleep… are you sleeping more than you normally would? Are you taking naps whenever you get the chance because you are just so exhausted, even though you had a full night’s sleep the night before? If you are sleeping a lot, but your sleep is restless or you don’t feel rested even after a full night’s sleep, something is up. Changes in your sleeping patterns are a big red flag that you are burned out.
You’re in a perpetual bad mood. Everyone has their off days, but when you are in a perpetual bad mood for days and weeks at a time something might be up. Think about how you have been feeling over the last few weeks. How many days were you in a bad mood, feeling frustrated, upset, sad or just plain negative. If you find you are focusing more on the negative in your life, feeling frustrated or cynical or being overly judgmental you may be burnt out. Stress can cause even the most positive person into a negative Nancy.
You’re snapping… at everyone. You’re not only in a bad mood, you are completely irritable and you are taking it out on anyone who crosses your path. Are you snapping at your partner for the smallest things? Are you yelling at your kids because your patience is at an all-time low? Are your coworkers getting on your last nerve? Snapping at everyone around you, even when they don’t necessarily deserve it, is a sign you are in major burn out mode.
You don’t feel like doing anything, especially things that are good for you. Are you a pretty motivated Mama normally? Do you kick butt and take names on the regular? If you suddenly find yourself struggling to find the motivation to get things done, especially things like exercising and eating right, burnout may be just around the corner. Maybe you are getting things done, but the motivation that used to drive you is gone. Maybe you are getting things done, not because you enjoy the tasks or because they are good for you, but because you are afraid of what will happen if you don’t do them. Burnout can cause you to struggle with motivation at work, at home and in your own self-care. If you have lost your motivation, chances are you are in serious burnout mode.
You feel like nothing you do is good enough. You are doing everything you can. You got the holiday cards done, you remembered to send in plates for the preschool class party, and you got that report done at work. You are getting it all done, but nothing feels like it’s quite good enough. The holiday cards went out a week after Christmas, the plates were mismatched leftovers from the last birthday party you threw and that report? It was DEFINITELY not your best work. If you feel like nothing you do is good enough, you might be holding yourself to some unrealistic standards. If you expect yourself to give 110% of yourself all the time, it’s likely going to break at some point. When you start to notice that you aren’t on your game like usual, it may be a sign that you are headed for burnout.
You can’t remember the last time you had “me time”. I know we like to pretend that there is no time for self-care when you are a working mom, but it really is necessary. We cannot take care of everyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves. Think about it for a moment… when was the last time you had some really quality “me” time? If you can’t remember, you might just be burned out. When you don’t take the time to care for yourself it can be both a cause and effect of being burned out. You are burned out because you don’t have any time for yourself and you don’t have any time for yourself because you are running on all cylinders. It becomes a vicious loop that drives you further into that burn out zone.
You feel like you are going to lose your #@&! Do you feel completely overwhelmed? Do you feel like you are going to snap if one more thing goes wrong? Are you perfectly balancing everything on your plate, but you know if one more thing drops onto in, there will be chaos everywhere? . When you are a working mom, stress is inevitable, but every single moment shouldn’t be stressful. It’s not healthy to be overwhelmed and stressed all of the time, even the strongest person would break under all that pressure. If you feel like you are about to lose your cool, at any moment, you may be approaching burnout status.
If you recognize any or all of these signs in yourself, changes are you are either already burnt out or that burn out is right around the corner! Now is the time to take action and relieve that stress. Need some help in that area? Check out my free guide, “2 minutes to Beat Burnout” below.