This is another requested topic by the lovely Kat, if you would like to suggest a topic then I would love to have a go.
If you’ve done anything for a long time, whether that be work in the same job, volunteer or in my case home educate, you may run the risk of burnout at some stage. For me, my specific kind of burnout was adrenal, or rather adrenal fatigue.
As a home educating parent we can sometimes be pulled in so many different directions, trying to facilitate every bodies live’s (including our own) and if we’re not careful it can get on top of us.
Psychology Today has a really great article on The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout if you want to read a more thorough article about it, it’s not going to be the same for everyone, but for me I had a lot of those symptoms.
So how do I try to avoid burnout these days?
I was reading Karla McLaren The Art of Empathy and she mentioned that out of all the research being done on diet, exercise and sleep, it is only sleep that they have found to increase longevity.
That as a society we often sacrifice sleep to exercise or be more vigilant in our diet, and this is not helping us.
Sleep is a great healer, and I am learning to recognise and honour it in my life (mostly 🙂 ). Tiredness increases my stressed feelings and lowers my capacity for dealing with it well.
We have some busy weeks, and we have some quiet weeks, some of that is regular activity (classes, meetings, commitments etc), and some of that is incidental activity (booking on a workshop or going to something that looks fun, having a play date etc). We are in a lull phase at the moment, where a lot of what we do is incidental rather than planned, which is great!
We have a little more room in our schedule for some more regular activities, and once we find that, we will have less time for incidental ones. I have learnt to recognise I can not do it all. So working out what the magic number is for me has been handy. I like to have at least one day at home per week. Or a couple of mornings or afternoons. I need sometime to get on top of things here or to rest or just have slow days.
Learning to recognise the patterns of life and adjusting accordingly, helps me keep on top of when things are getting out of hand. I can have a couple of busy weeks, if I also have a couple of slow weeks either side.
But I can not keep going and going and going any more.
One of the crucial things I have started to do again, is work out what brings me joy/contentment, and doing more of that deliberately making time for myself.
To write, to vlog, to bake, to do a craft to read. Of late I have started to pick up my ukulele and guitar again, realising the important part music also has played in my life especially in my younger days.
This totally messes with my perfectionist tendencies, and I struggle mentally if I don’t get something straight away. But I am learning to over come this, because the joy I feel when I have accomplished something is great.
This is the one that I forget to do, and probably also comes under doing things that bring me joy. But when I am deliberate about it, I can feel my body being refreshed and rejuvenated.
I am reading more articles of late about the importance of doing this, for so many reasons. Increased memory, vision (in children), develops kindness, makes you feel more alive, sunlight having a positive affect, breathing fresh air and immunity boosting effects to name some of the benefits to getting out and about and enjoying nature.
I think I have talked myself into a walk later today.
I am greatly affected by my environment, something which often highly sensitive people are. In the book I mentioned earlier The Art of Empathy, Karla McLaren has a section dedicated to the empathetic home. What this means in a nutshell is asking yourself if your home is a place that hinders or helps your emotional well-being?
I would go as far as to say, is that also true of my body? My physical home. Not as easy to change perhaps, but one I am learning the importance of.
Are there areas of my diet lacking? Do I need to do some work around the house (ie is the clutter getting to me?) Do I need to introduce some vitamins or minerals into my diet? Is all of my busyness outside of the house, stopping me do things within the house that are contributing to my stress?
For me, one of the simplest things I could have done, was to paint the walls white. I know for some they would find that boring, but for me, it makes me feel serene. Thus making my home a more calming place to be and lowering my environmental stress.
I can then add colour in different ways, through pillows, paintings, candles etc.
This is my biggest area of struggle. As my husband says, for someone who loves community, you suck at it!
I do, he’s right. But I am learning to get better at it, because it has been during my times of stress and burnout, that I have realised how much I have needed people. It’s not fair to expect my husband to be my be all and end all, it puts too much pressure on the relationship.
At times of stress and burnout, I naturally want to isolate myself, but this is not the answer, at least not for me any how, as it will exasperate the problems of feeling alone, rejected and unworthy. What I really need are people who will push through and say I am here.
Like everyone, I have had people who have hurt me, and sometimes at really low points in my life. Often this has caused me to feel bitter, and to want to isolate myself even further from people. Often it adds to my anxiety, but I am learning to introduce strategies and coping mechanisms, that help lessen that for me.
I don’t let people into my heart lightly, I never have, so once someone is there, there is an extra added acuteness and rejection when I am hurt. I am learning to hold this a little more lightly as I get older, but it is not always easy to fight against our long-standing habits. I am also more self-aware, and can see when it’s their problem and when it’s mine. I don’t own the responsibilty for every failure any more.
I am starting to learn the benefits of different kinds of relationships too. Not everyone needs to be my best friend (not that I am a believer of best friends really). Having people to connect with on various levels is important too.
For instance having a safe person you can say I am struggling with home educating today without them suggesting you put the kids in school, is important to have. Or a friend with a similar age child who you can share your parenting woes/joys with. Someone who you have something in common with (share a love of books for example), or want to learn a new skill along side. Couple friends, that you can do fun things together with as families or just together.
Life becomes richer when I open my heart. It also means on the bad days, I am not doing life alone by ‘self’ isolating, and on the good days, I have someone to share them with and build memories alongside.
If there is one thing that being middle aged has taught me, is that when you are brave enough to say I feel like this, that quite often (more often than not in my experience), there is always someone else around who has felt like that too. We are not as alone in our struggles as our self isolation would have us believe.
How about you? How do you avoid burnout?
I would love to hear your thoughts as well.