HOW TO SURVIVE MOTHERHOOD (AND A PANDEMIC) WITHOUT BURNING OUTMar 09, 2021
Is this your life right now? Are you juggling a babe on one hip while walking the dog with a toddler; chatting on the phone to a co-worker but really thinking about what you are going to pull together for lunch today?
Are you multi-tasking to the extreme and can’t shut your mind off? Then you need to read this article to help prevent burnout.
If you continue to burn the candle at both ends, you may suffer from insomnia, fatigue, digestive issues (like IBS and/or reflux), a weakened immune system, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, and/or depression.
I suffered from extreme exhaustion and burnout after having my son Stuart. I remember trying to read a bedtime story and not having enough energy to read the words on the page. Just getting Stuart dressed and into the baby carrier each morning depleted me and I needed to lay down after dropping him off at daycare (which was only one street over) before starting my workday.
What helped me get back on track was dealing with an undiagnosed thyroid condition, exercising less and resting more to support my adrenal glands (the “gas tank” that helps you feel energized), prioritizing sleep, and getting help with the household chores, cleaning, etc.
With the pandemic in its’ 11th month, so many of us are feeling worn out, frustrated, and at the end of our ropes.
If you are on the brink of crashing and are feeling depleted and drained, here are 6 strategies to help get you back on track to feeling like yourself again:
- Get a blood test (if you feel it is safe at this time):
It is important to first rule out common issues that can contribute to fatigue and exhaustion. With your Naturopathic Doctor or Medical Doctor, be sure to ask for these blood tests: a FULL thyroid panel (TSH, T3, T4, TPO antibodies, anti-TG antibodies), serum B12, ferritin/iron panel, CBC, HbA1C (a marker of your blood sugar).
- Identify which daily activities drain you and which ones energize you:
If meal-planning, grocery shopping, and cooking deplete you, sign up for a meal kit delivery service. If you are left exhausted and broken after bedtime or from trying to get your kids to school (or logged onto the computer for online learning), reach out to Tia Slightham, parenting coach, to help devise a schedule/strategy to make these frustrating transition times seamless and easy.
If getting outside, reading for 10 minutes, watching your favourite show, or calling a friend energizes you, be sure to schedule at least one of these activities per day to start to refill your cup up. Other simple energizing activities include: dancing to your favourite song, sitting and enjoying a warm cup of tea or coffee and dancing to your favourite song.
- Stay hydrated:
Boring, right? Yet so simple AND effective. Being dehydrated is a stressor on the body and will leave you feeling zapped. Drink a large glass of water right when you wake up. Then fill up a few glasses of water/water bottles and put them in the rooms you will be spending the most time in throughout the day (or ask your partner to). Put one in your home office, one in the TV room, one in the kitchen…then you will have no excuse not to drink water.
- Release your emotions:
Even if a stressful situation has passed, we can still hold on to the emotions. If not released, they can leave us feeling drained. Options to let go of emotions include: walking/exercising, practicing even 2 minutes of deep breathing, hugging your partner or child for 20 seconds (it is longer than you think!), laughing and/or crying (just letting it all out).
- Balance your blood sugar levels:
Reduce sugar: when you eat too much sugar and/or refined carbs, your blood glucose peaks, giving you a temporary boost. But, then it crashes soon after, triggering the release of cortisol, your stress hormone. This adds fuel to the stress fire and can lead to burnout.
Eat a balanced breakfast with healthy fat and protein to help reduce anxiety and boost energy during the day. Great breakfast options include: a protein smoothie with coconut milk; unsweetened greek or coconut yogurt with hemp seeds and berries; coconut chia pudding with collagen powder added; or eggs (hard-boiled are quick and easy) with avocado, baby carrots and hummus.
If you are craving sweets, choose dark chocolate, dark chocolate-covered almonds, sliced apples or pears with nut butter, or piece of fruit. My favourite chocolate brands are is Zazubean (their “Nudie” 80% dark chocolate) and Giddy YoYo (their 82% Vanilla Dark Chocolate). When I am craving something sweet, I add some Lakanto monk fruit sweetener to a rooibos chai tea (which doesn’t raise blood sugar levels).
- Prioritize sleep
When you get less than 6 hours sleep, you release more cortisol the next day; your blood sugar becomes unstable (and you crave sugar); your mood tanks and the day drags on. Not getting enough sleep contributes to weight gain and increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and depression. Aim to get to bed 15 minutes earlier and nap in the day if you are up with your little ones in the middle of the night.
You got this mama! Choose one of these strategies to focus on over the next week and then add in another one if needed the following week. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns or would like to book an appointment.
Book a free 15-min Discovery Call to see how I can help prevent burnout and get you back to feeling your best. I also offer cortisol testing (via urine or saliva) if you want to know exactly how stress is negatively impacting your health. I create individualized treatment plans using nutrition, herbs, acupuncture, lifestyle counselling and even exercise recommendations to boost energy and mood and optimize your health.
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