May is not only the month we celebrate Mother’s Day but it’s also Mental Health Awareness month.
As a mom, I guarantee you spend a lot of time worrying about your kids and their happiness. It may feel like you don’t have the time or energy to delve into why you are feeling so crappy.
But the reality is, if you don’t take the time and energy to care for yourself – especially your mental health, you run the risk of burnout.
I want to share with you some tips you can implement today to improve your mental health and avoid burnout. I’m also going to share with you some awesome websites/resources that will provide you with even more ways to improve your mental health.
5 Ways To Avoid Mom Burnout
1. Be Honest With Yourself
If you feel burned out, you might be thinking you need to be more disciplined, do more, and do better. This is the complete opposite of what you need!
Ask yourself why you are feeling so burned out? Answer this with honesty and leave the judgement and “should do” out of it. Give yourself grace and kindness instead of beating yourself up.
Accepting where you are at this moment in time, instead of telling yourself things should be different and YOU should be different, is only leading to more feelings of exhaustion and frustration.
Last summer I had COVID. Once my isolation time was up, I told myself I was fine and should get back to my normal routines and the to-do list that was waiting for me.
However, all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch TV. I felt so tired. I kept trying to push myself. I tried to use every trick I knew for avoiding procrastination. When it didn’t work, I called myself lazy and starting fearing that I would never get my ambition back.
Then I received some good advice to not push against the procrastination, just sit with it and let it be there. I was also reminded that I have the choice to treat myself with compassion. My mind immediately could not see the benefit in this! But I tried it.
What I found was that when I accepted the reality of the situation, and didn’t push against it, I was preserving the mental energy I was using to fight with myself.
I slowly started to take action and my momentum picked up. It was eye-opening to see how using honesty, compassion, and acceptance with myself gave me the result I desired.
2. Take a Break From Your Phone and/or Social Media
When I start feeling like I can’t focus, or I’m not able to accomplish a task to completion, it’s a signal that I need a break from my phone.
It’s easy to get caught up in the habit of picking up your phone every 5 minutes. Your brain is constantly looking for that dopamine hit. As you know, the hit isn’t long lasting.
When I’m able to put my phone away for a bit, it take a few minutes for my brain to calm down, but then I can really focus all my attention on what I’m doing. This also helps my brain to settle so I feel less scattered and anxious.
As far as social media goes, I took a break in May 2020 from social media, and I haven’t looked back. I hop on once and a great while if there’s something I need to do or see, but that’s about it. I view this as a gift I gave to myself.
It’s ok if you don’t want to move off of social media, but it’s important to recognize when your mental health may be declining because of it.
In this great article by VeryWellMind, they explore the link between social media and mental health. This article shares the signs to look for if you think social media is affecting your mental health:
- It distracts you from work
- You are using it to avoid “bad” emotions
- You are being trolled or cyperbullied
- You are spending more time online than with family/friends
- Feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness are spiking
If this resonates with you, I would suggest experimenting with setting a social media break for yourself once a day. Even if it’s only 30 minutes, you will have the opportunity to see how you feel without the desire to hop on social media.
3. Go Outside
There has been a ton of research on the positive benefits of spending time in nature. However, you may think you don’t have the time or desire to go for long hikes, or even take a walk.
But spending as much as 15 minutes a day outside can increase your calmness, lessen feelings of depression and anxiety, and lower your blood pressure! I try to take one 10 minute walk a day around my neighborhood. I include this into my daily habits. Sometimes I listen to a podcast, and sometimes I focus on my surroundings. It helps me to appreciate the beauty around me instead of dwelling on the negative.
If your kids are little and you don’t have the luxury of going for a walk on your own, take a few minutes in the morning and sit outside. If your kids nap, be intentional with stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths.
There are a lot of fitness programs that are offered outside. It’s a bonus if the fitness class can include your child!
4. Cancel Your Plans
This may seem counterintuitive, but there are days when the best thing to do is give yourself a “mental health” day.
When my kids were young, we stayed busy with mom groups, classes, and playdates. Once in a while, I would wake up feeling tired and unmotivated to carry out our plans for the day. Everything would feel like a challenge.
On these days, I would cancel everything and have a lazy day at home with the kids. It was just what I needed to reenergize myself.
By laying low, instead of pushing through while feeling unmotivated, my kids benefited because I was feeling relaxed. It was a much better way to spend the day.
5. Be Kind To Yourself – Always
I talked a little bit about this already, but it’s so important that I’m devoting #5 to it – no matter what is going on, you always have the choice to be kind toward yourself.
As a mom, it’s so easy to forget about the gazillion things we do all day, and immediately zone in on what we haven’t accomplished. It’s also easier to focus on how we could’ve handled a situation differently, instead of giving ourselves grace for getting through the situation.
Nothing good ever comes from talking bad to yourself. Self-criticism leads to feelings of shame, guilt, anger and frustration. When we feel these feelings, it’s hard to show up as the mom we want to be. These feelings can also drain you of energy and lead to feeling completely burned out.
Make a commitment to talk to yourself with kindness and compassion. These feelings lead to more positive actions, and provide a type of energy that is fulfilling versus draining.
Plus, think about the impact you could have on your kids if they see you treating yourself kindly instead of trash talking yourself (even if you only do this in your head)?
Additional Resources To Help You
I hope you found the suggestions above helpful. Taking care of yourself an staying on top of your mental health is one of the best gifts you can give your family. It’s also the best way to avoid burnout!
If you are looking for additional resources for your mental health, I highly recommend the websites below:
- Seize the Awkward – this website has great tips for having conversations with someone that you think might be struggling, but you aren’t sure how to reach out. There are also inspiring stories.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – NAMI not only offers support and resources for individuals living with a mental illness, they also offer support and guidance to family members and caregivers.
- Mental Health America – this organization offers mental health education and outreach, as well as an abundance of resources and programs. You may be interested in their #4Mind4Body campaign.
**Are you sick of feeling so angry and yelling at your kids? Check out my new blog series: 6 Steps To Go From An Angry To Happy + Confident Mom**