How to Prevent Parent Burnout?
Parenting is a tough job as it is. Combine that with a devastating pandemic and it has just added to the existing parent’s stress level and workload. With schools closed and grandparents away, parents have felt a lack of support and have faced ‘parenting burnout’. Parenting is a 24/7 job which is why ‘parenting burnout’ is a tough term to embrace.
WebMD defines Parental burnout as “overwhelming exhaustion, emotional distancing from your children, and a sense of being a poor or ineffective parent”. If this sounds like you, this is how you regain a sense of sanity and find some time for yourself amidst all the chaos.
- For immediate relief, take deep breaths :
Neuroscience shows us how breathing helps the brain shift to different states. Short and rapid breaths convey to the brain a sign that we move, even if we are sitting in a chair. In contrast, slow, regular breathing signals the brain that we feel calm and comfortable. It is the fastest route to reset your body and take a quick break from the kids. Make deep breathing a regular component of your day. Select a time of day that will suit you and adhere to it. Consider connecting deep breathing to routine activities as before daily, lunchtime or day trips.
Pro tip: In the beginning, ask your kids to practice silent times (even for a minute or two) to impress upon the importance of silence on them. Then, slowly take that time to yourself.
- Practice Mindfulness
The human mind is restless and wanders. This is especially tiring for people with an anxious temperament (parents!). Mindfulness is a simple approach to bring your wandering mind back to the present moment, thereby suppressing the fight or flight reaction in our amygdala, the portion of the brain that regulates emotion and behaviour.
Mindfulness can be practised anywhere, at any time, such as while having lunch, going for a walk, or sitting in our favourite chair at home. It can be completed in brief two to five-minute increments, allowing it to fit in between numerous normal commitments.
- Regularly Exercising
Exercising is a healthy approach to boost your mood, relieve stress, and prepare for sleep. Endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that boost emotions of happiness, are released, which explains why many individuals become addicted to running, walking, and other forms of activity. According to a Penn State University study, 30 minutes of daily exercise has a significant demonstrable impact on a person's effectiveness and well-being.
- ‘Green’ time
The importance of green time on our mental health is supported by science. Researchers discovered a direct link between time spent in natural settings and a decrease in cortisol levels, the stress hormone that helps us sustain our anxious emotions. Because the human brain was created to cope with outdoor existence, it feels most at ease in such a setting.
Visiting the bush or the beach may not be possible for the time being, but a daily walk in a park, garden, or even just spending some time on your balcony will provide equal benefits. Bring some green inside by strategically placing indoor plants throughout your home. Regular green time is an excellent natural cure for worry and stress, as well as a natural antidote to many of the mental health issues produced by increasing screen time.
Most importantly, as a parent, you need to learn how to set aside any thoughts of guilt and simply enjoy the peace it gives if you already practise self-care. If taking care of yourself has never been a priority, now is a fantastic moment to start. Begin with tiny steps — choose one or two things and work your way up from there. If it still doesn’t help, seeing a therapist may be beneficial for you and your kids in the long run. The objective is to make your well-being and self-care become a regular part of your everyday life as a parent.