Rossendale Free Press

Beat the burnout

The pandemic has pushed many parents to their limit. LAUREN TAYLOR learns how to get life back into balance


IT used to be associated with highpowere­d jobs but ‘burnout’ is now being felt by more and more parents, as they try to juggle career pressures alongside busy family lives – more so since Covid hit.

The pandemic has been particular­ly tough on parents; from looking after newborns without outside support, to home-schooling alongside a job. And even as we (hopefully) reach the other side of the Covid crisis, a recent survey of 2,000 parents by the charity Action for Children found four out of five (82%) are still struggling. Many reported they felt like they were “drowning” and “isolated”, and other symptoms included anxiety, disruption to sleep, depression and mental exhaustion.

When does tiredness become ‘burnout’?

“It’s the degree of tiredness,” explains Dr Nihara Krause, consultant clinical psychologi­st at Bloss (blossapp. com), “if you take tiredness along a spectrum, then being burned out is an absolute, emotional and physical, exhaustion. And it’s not an exhaustion that might be helped by, say, going on holiday. It’s a build up of fatigue and stress and the impact of those things.”

There are cognitive implicatio­ns too; burnout can come with “loss of fulfilment, a sense of disillusio­nment about where you’re at,” she says.

It can lead to a loss of self-esteem, where you feel as if you’ve lost who you were, “particular­ly if you compare yourself to the parent you were pre-burnout, which can lead to

mood and anxiety conditions”.

The pandemic-effect

Covid-19 has impacted everyone in very different ways. “For some it was actually an opportunit­y to have a break and reconnect with family, for others it caused them an enormous amount of juggle,” says Dr Krause.

For those without much practical support from their partner, single parents or parents of children with additional challengin­g needs, the stress may have surged.

“When we first experience­d the pandemic, one of the first actors it influenced was our sense of safety,” Dr Kruse explains. “If we don’t feel safe, our anxiety levels zoom up. Parents in particular, because of the added layer of responsibi­lity, would have gone into overdrive.”

On top of that, she says, boundaries collapsed because of homeworkin­g. Parents where taking on multiple roles to educate and entertain their children as well as do their own work.

How to get back on track

The first step, Dr Krause says, is to take stock of what’s happening. “I do think it’s important to acknowledg­e what you’re feeling. If you are experienci­ng burnout then, even with the best of intentions, you’re not going to be able to deliver what you want to do.”

See yourself as a athlete who’s had an injury, she suggests. “There’s no point saying, ‘I’ve got to go and play that match’ – you’ve got to let the wound heal.”

Next, examine how it’s affecting you in terms of food intake, sleep, energy and your thought processes,

and get some help, “whether that’s telling someone close to you that you’re feeling exhausted or seeking some [profession­al] support – I do think that’s always good because it’s hard to get perspectiv­e and it’s hard to feel more positive when you’re feeling like this.”

Look into whether some practical help to take the load off is possible, perhaps from your partner or another family member. Could work be more flexible with your hours?

“Try and rebalance some of the things that might have gone out of balance,” says Dr Krause. “So if you were overstretc­hing yourself to do a lot more of the education stuff, can you now start to withdraw that? Can you start to get a bit more of a balance, between what you’re offering and what you want for yourself?”

 ?? ?? Juggling work with educating and entertaini­ng the kids has left many at the end of their tether
Juggling work with educating and entertaini­ng the kids has left many at the end of their tether
 ?? ?? Ask your partner for more support
Ask your partner for more support
 ?? ?? Dr Nihara Krause
Dr Nihara Krause

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