Anyone else feel on the edge of work at home burnout the last couple weeks???
Last week, I had a trifecta of crazy. I was readjusting after going out of town for the weekend. My son needed help prepping for his 3rd grade test after not having a real teacher since March. And then this little election we had here in the United States. 😬
Let’s just say I was on the stress struggle bus. But luckily, and thanks to the help of fantastic coaches helping me create systems to deal with life when it feels overwhelming, I made it through. And I want to help you identify and conquer your overwhelm too.
That is why today I’m sharing strategies to identify when you are heading towards maximum capacity so you can identify your stress and stop burnout before it starts.
If you can learn the signals your mind and body start to send when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or burned out, you can create solutions in advance to help. Bonus points if you share those solutions with your spouse, friend, coach or other support so they can also identify when you’re heading for trouble and lend their help.
If you’re anything like me, my previous max capacity cycle runs something like a car with a wobbly wheel….At first, the car just shakes a bit, I might not even notice it all the time. But instead of stopping to fix it (which would be pretty easy at this point), I just keep pushing. And as the shaking gets worse, I continue to say “if I can just get to this destination” or “if I can just drive this far I’ll fix it then”. So I push forward, maybe even driving faster, trying to out drive the eventual damage. And then BAM! Blown tire. Or the wheel falls off. Or some other bad tire-related problem with your car. I didn’t listen when the triggers started and look where that got me.
When you start to identify your triggers or know what your mind and body need to recover, you create a plan of action for those times when you know you’re going to be stretched to your limits.
Work at Home Burnout and Your Brain
You might be thinking “burnout is just part of the process” or “how can working less actually help me”. Sounds crazy, right? But hear me out…That stress you think is normal is damaging your brain.
As you near your burnout, your body produces excess amounts of the hormone cortisol. This affects the part of the brain that creates new brain cells and keeps them healthy. And that excess cortisol can affect decision making, working memory and control of impulsive behavior. Hello, stress eating, anyone??? And while stress is making it harder to think, make decisions, or control your urge to raid the peanut butter cups in your kid’s Halloween basket, it is also reducing the levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin which maker you feel happier. No wonder stress is so stressful!!!
But there is hope…By recognizing the signs of burnout before it’s too late, you can create a plan that will stop that flow of cortisol, save your dopamine levels, and help you continue to problem solve with the best of them.
Incorporating stress relievers on a regular basis can not only stave off the major meltdowns, but it can help you in your day to day functions. You’ll feel better and less on edge when you incorporate some form of self-care into your daily routine like exercising, meditating, or reading for yourself. You’ll notice more of an even keel rather than major swings in mood, productivity, and stress levels.
And let’s face it…everyone is better when mom is better. Your family benefits because you can be present with them without stressing over little things. Your clients appreciate your clear, focused efforts.
Signs of Work at Home Burnout
Let’s start by identifying some of the basic signs or triggers of burnout. And you may hear this list and think, “well, that just sounds like mom life to me.” And that is because mom life IS incredibly stressful. We are regularly on the verge of burnout with all the balls we are trying to juggle. That is why it is so important to recognize the signs and start to develop solutions before the burnout starts. So, signs of burnout include feeling:
- Short Tempered
Like I said. Pretty much every mom on the planet just said. Um, so I’m heading for burnout then. But we have spent so long ignoring the signs or saying “that’s just motherhood” that we have normalized the damaging stress. But the good news is, now that we know how it might look or feel, we can brainstorm ways to stop work at home burnout before it starts…
How to Stop Work at Home Burnout Before It Starts
- Prioritize – Moms notoriously like to do it all. In fact, it can feel like a competition at times. But if you truly want to prevent those damaging burnout episodes, you need to practice prioritizing. Start to evaluate the activities and tasks you have and whether they fit your values or fall into the truly “urgent” or “important” category. If you aren’t sure which tasks are truly priorities, check out my episode “How to Choose Your Priority Tasks”.
- Create Boundaries – Again, moms are notorious “yes” women. We love to help and make people happy. We feel the need to ask how high when I clients say “jump now”. Setting effective boundaries around when we work, what our schedule capacity is, and learning to say “no” when there just isn’t time helps us create boundaries to protect our stress levels. Need more tips on setting boundaries? Check out my episode “Why You Need to Set Work Boundaries”.
- Recognize Your Triggers – What do you do when you are approaching burnout? Or does it seem to come at certain times during the year? The holidays for example…so many activities, wanting to do all the things but it is also the end of the year for your business and you need to plan for the following year or for Q1. And you need to wrap up Q4 of 2020. I am literally feeling stressed just thinking about it. When you can learn to recognize that overwhelming feeling, you can start to problem solve in advance how to prevent it. Do you need to cut back on unnecessary holiday activities? Or need to hire help for end of the year wrap up in your business? Do you need to take a full day off from all things digital once a week to focus on your family and refill your cup? Recognize your triggers and problem solve how you’ll fight them in advance.
- Schedule Non-Negotiable Time for What Makes You Happy – This is super important for all those moms who put the needs of literally everyone else first. It goes hand in hand with the boundaries thing. You deserve time to take care of you, do something that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be alone time. I can totally be family time. Or a date night. Make time for the activities that make you happy. Get it on the schedule. Make it non-negotiable. Do not let outside commitments keep you from your happy place.
- Incorporate Self-Care Tiny Tasks into Every Day – Over the years, I feel like self-care has become the realm of spa days or massages. And those are totally and completely self-care activities. And if you can incorporate them into your regular routine, by all means, mama, do so! But there are also small acts of self-care you can do in your home that cost virtually nothing and take no time at all. For ideas, click here to check out my “10 Free, 10-Minute Self Care Ideas for Moms”. Find a tiny pocket of time just for you as often as you can to help keep your cup topped off. And stave off that burnout dragon.
You cannot fill from an empty cup, mama. If you want to avoid max capacity, pre-plan how you will deal when you feel stress coming. Brainstorm a list of what triggers your stressful feelings then pre-plan a solution for how you will recognize and release them. For instance, if you say “I feel stressed when I have a work deadline the weekend after my kid’s basketball tournament”. The solution may be to finish or complete a large percentage of the project before the weekend. Or to delegate some of the tasks so all you have to do is assemble and edit come Monday.
Maybe you’re saying “I feel stressful during the holidays because we are running around so much and never get a chance to sit and enjoy.” The solution maybe you will limit functions to one per week. Or maybe push some celebrations into January when everyone’s social calendars have cleared a bit.
There is a solution. I promise.
And if you are struggling to see it, I’m here to help. Feel free to drop a comment below or reach out in the DMs on social media @businesssavvymama. This is a huge issue for us mom entrepreneurs. I know it personally. I’ve lived it many a time. And I am passionate about helping other mom entrepreneurs see the way through.