Almost two thirds of parents are stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed according to new data.
Burnt-out parents, otherwise known as ‘BOPs’…sixty-three per cent of mums and dads are now said to be seeking help to deal with it.
Exacerbated by the pandemic, if extreme tiredness and stress isn’t addressed, burnout can easily occur.
Selina Barker is the author of Burnt out: The Exhausted Person’s Guide to Thriving in a Fast-paced World.
“Parental burnout is the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that one feels from the chronic stress of parenting,” she says. “It can manifest with emotional distancing from your child, increased irritability, and impatience. Some BOPs may experience forgetfulness or increased feelings of anxiety or depression, and many question their ability to parent in the first place.”
Barker has identified four distinct parental burnout archetypes that BOPs fall into.
Identifying your burnout archetype doesn’t only help you to understand yourself better – it can help you spot the signs of burnout early and allow you to make the changes required to prevent you from becoming totally depleted of energy.
When you’re working at full capacity, the over-doer is a naturally resourceful and practical minded person who takes on the challenges of the day with comfort and enthusiasm. However, when heading towards burnout, you slip into overdrive, and everything feels urgent. You become physically fatigued and mentally exhausted, crushed by juggling everyday work and family responsibilities and never-ending to-do list.
Over-givers are the loving, caring person people go to for help, because they are reliable. Normally a naturally deeply motivated person who is fulfilled by being of service to others, when you start creeping towards burnout, your personal self-care and self-love practices go out the window. For you, burnout manifests as emotional exhaustion and you save little time for yourself, instead focusing on others needs instead of your own.
You’ll know when you’ve slipped into over-thinker mode because your thinking will go into hyper-speed. Your mind will race, and you’ll find you struggle to stop it, because if you don’t figure it out, who will? You’ll struggle to switch off from your daily tasks and may experience sleep disturbances due to worrying. You’ll start to feel foggy, brain-frazzled and concentrating or focusing on tasks becomes impossible, even the ones you know like the back of your hand.
Despite outsiders being impressed by how much you can get done, the reality is you can’t stop and you’re unhappy. Your inner battle if often with perfectionism, imposter syndrome or both. You’re constantly going above and beyond to have the ‘perfect’ family. This means that when burnout hits, you crash hard. On the inside, you start to experience a crisis of confidence and the fear of not being good enough creeps in and outsider support can feel intrusive.
“Whatever parental burnout archetype you are, it’s important to remember these aren’t who you are,” says Barker. “They are simply sides of you that come out when you are under pressure.
“If you feel like you are heading towards parental burnout or are already there, then the first thing you need to do is make rest and recovery a top priority. Do the things that you know help you to restore your energy: a walk in nature, gentle exercise, plenty of sleep, hot baths, nourishing food, talking to a friend about how you’re doing. You can also explore the use of an adaptogen, such as Rhodiola rosea that can help to restore the body’s natural equilibrium from the inside out.”