Written by Ana Hrincu for Nest Integrative Wellness
Parenthood can be an array of experiences, stresses, and joys. The need to be constantly “on” and navigating the ups and downs of home life and child rearing can be rewarding but challenging. The holiday season can bring about even more stress with the need to attend social gatherings, financial strain, and the pressure create the “perfect” holiday memories at every turn. This stress can lead to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, resulting in burn out.
Often referred to in work environments – burn out can be the result of being over-worked and under-resourced. Recent research has highlighted that burn out can be experienced due to a variety of ongoing stressors however, including parenthood, workload challenges, and trauma. Luckily, there are ways to recognize the signs of burn out and support your mental health. Burn out is often identified through 3 dimensions:
There are ways to combat burn out however, and implementing them during the holidays can support your mental health through the season and into the new year.
Manage your choices. There are always a lot of things to do and to be done during this season. Being selective about the activities and workloads you take on can help to reduce your stress. Maybe instead of cooking a big meal, you make it into a pot-luck where guests each bring a dish. Or maybe instead of going to 4 parties, you pick 2.
Get some sleep. Sleep is one of the most under-rated stress reducers. Sleep not only impacts your energy levels and mental function but also plays a part in mood. Staying up late to complete tasks, wrap gifts, or do midnight baking can increase your stress and steals valuable recharge time from your body.
Ask for help. This season is busy for everyone, regardless of where you are in your parenthood journey. That being said, it is also the season of giving and family and friends are looking to give back to the ones they love. Seeking out allies and requesting specific help can not only reduce the demands on you, it is also an opportunity for those in your circle to feel good and know they are valued in your life.
Make time for scheduled breaks. Whether that be a day or two in between group gatherings or scheduled 15 minute breathing breaks throughout the days, making time to pause or scheduling activities you enjoy can provide small moments of relief in an otherwise hectic season. A cup of warm coffee, an hour to watch your favourite show, or a walk around your neighbourhood can remove you from the hustle and bustle and help relieve stress.
Parenthood is a test of endurance – not a race, and can be particularly so during the holidays. Know that if you are feeling burnt out, it is not a permanent state of being – there are ways to feel like yourself again and enjoy this season.