Today we are going to talk about the subject of burnout and how to permanently recover from it!
Look out for the printable Action Plan pages at the end of the post to help you implement the steps we talk about!
I was a few days from a product launch. With homeschool a priority during the week, the past few weekends had been crazy with me working at every possible moment and my awesome hubby looking after the children – and everything else. That last weekend had thrown me full-on into launch mode and the kids only saw me for a few minutes at mealtimes. I was fast approaching burnout.
My three-year-old was yelling a lot. The other children were restless. They all needed Mom back. We needed time for cuddles, kisses and a gentle heart. We needed life to return to normal. As a homemaker and mom, I had let my boundaries slip and had lost balance in my life.
Throughout this intense season of product creation, every time a friend asked if they could pray for me, the first thing I asked them to pray about was that the Lord would help me to stay balanced and keep my priorities straight.
I decided that morning that it was time. We needed to return to normal. NOW! There was still work to be done for my launch, but in terms of my heart focus, I was determined to bring that balance back. I desperately wanted to focus my heart energy on my children again, on my husband’s needs and on my home. I knew that’s what the Lord wanted from me.
I discovered that sometimes when your home business yells really loudly, you have to push back extra hard.
Being a Mom is never easy, from the baby that needs your constant attention to the young eight-year-old with endless energy, to the teenager who needs time to talk through things and feel understood. It all requires so much from us!
Homeschooling adds to that challenge. There is the challenge of being a relaxed Mom and an effective homeschooler at the same time. Even one homeschool day can be exhausting. There are so many needs pulling at us. Even on a good day where lots of good stuff goes down, it’s still exhausting. It can feel like each day is a small marathon.
As the year goes on, many things can set in – monotony, tiredness from lack of sleep, poor health, extra busy seasons in other areas, until suddenly, without warning, we find we’re in overwhelm or burnout. Once we are in the middle of it, we can feel stuck, lost, with no idea how to get out of the mud. How do we dig our way out?
If that’s you and, like me, you have struggled with this journey, then this post is for you. These are things that I have realized over the past ten years, that I need to do whenever I find my life out of balance. I need to consciously and intentionally reset using these steps as my roadmap.
Realizing you want to change is always a great place to start and should give us hope. It means the journey to better has already begun. It means you are willing to do the work and are headed in the right direction.
Read through the following steps and decide today what action you are going to take. I have included my ‘Recover from Burnout’ Action Plan printables at the end to help you. You will find the download at the end of the post!
Here we go – the first four steps to help you recover from burnout:
1. Get some rest and take some time to recover
This one is so hard to remember to do – life gets busy, right!
First, take time to pray and ask the Lord to help you. Pray with and talk to your husband. Figure out what kind of break you need. Perhaps it’s just a quiet weekend with your family. Perhaps it’s a day out on your own, perhaps it’s a whole week of minimizing what you do, with a relative to help while you sleep a bit more than usual and have time to think.
Take the first step to recovery and make a plan to catch up on sleep and to slow down.
Unplug as much as you can. Sit outside and look at the sky.
Make a list of things you enjoy doing and that help to relax and refresh you. Try to make a plan where half an hour each day you do something just for you while the children are otherwise occupied. Do something refreshing during that time like taking a bath or a nap, reading a book, listening to a podcast or working on a hobby. Each of us have different things that refresh us. Find what works for you and make a plan to do it regularly.
Protect this time fiercely as if it’s an outside appointment – even mark it on your calendar!
2. Get some inspiring input
Often when we approach burnout, we no longer feel inspired. We have no fresh ideas or energy.
Take time to be inspired again and make a plan to regularly do what it takes to be inspired.
Find what inspires you, what gives you new ideas, what makes you feel creative, what makes you feel like you just have to go out and do that thing right now: books, podcasts, conversations with friends, researching a subject you are interested in.
Avoid what makes you feel overwhelmed.
For me, one of the things that inspires me most would be listening to a podcast, perhaps while driving to the shops or while resting. Usually, I am so inspired as the ideas start to flow. I write them down as they come. Inspiring input really lifts me out of a rut!
3. Figure out your priorities
This can be as big as writing or reviewing your family’s mission statement or as small as jotting down what you think the five most important things are in terms of how you are investing your life right now. Think about your husband, your children, your relationship with and service for the Lord. Figure out what is most important to you.
We will cover family mission statements in more detail in another post but for now, refresh in your mind what the non-negotiables are in your life. Make a list on paper of the things you know come first and that you want to do, no matter what – the things that when you reach the end of your life, you will look back and think, “I’m so glad I spent my time on those.”
You may use the download at the end of this post as your guide.
4. Put in the big rocks first
Sometimes after crazy times such as a new baby in the house, illness, lauching a product or a busy and demanding extended family season, we need to rebuild balance into our lives. Begin your rebuilding plan.
Have you ever seen the illustration of a jar filled with big rocks, little stones and sand? I read about it in a Stephen Covey book. Picture a glass jar filled with big rocks, small stones and sand. If you were to put all the sand into the jar first, and it filled the up halfway, then the small stones, the large rocks would not be able to fit into the jar.
But if you first placed the big rocks in, then the small stones, and finally poured in the sand, it would fill all the gaps around the rocks and stones – and it would all FIT into the jar!
It’s the same with our lives. If we fill our lives with unnecessary mundane tasks, our days will soon be full without space for the BIG ROCKS – our most important priorities. We need to start with the foundations and build up from there. Start with the big rocks!The sand, or less important things, can be added in later.
Here are my big rocks (foundational, non-negotiables in my life):
Note: This will be different for each of us, so don’t be surprised if yours looks very different to mine – it should!
- Time with the Lord every day – I like to pray, read the Word and enjoy God by talking to Him whenever I can.
- Time to breathe! This is something I have only lately realized is a non-negotiable. I need time to stop, to look at the sky, to be refreshed. This is necessary for me to give the best of myself to my family.
- To be there for my husband in whatever way he needs me.
- To be Mom to my children – in the midst of homeschooling I sometimes forget about this role that is so much more important. To be Mom to them. I want to be available and ready when they need me and to be proactively raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
- Homeschooling my children
- Proper planning and organization in every part of life, I want to be properly organized so that I don’t waste time and can spend my time on my most important priorities. When I do something, I want to do it efficiently and effectively so that I’ve got time to fit in all the things I want to fit in to my days.
For me, that’s about it – everything else is negotiable. Everything else fits in if it can fit in. There are many other things that are important to me, but the amount of time I spend on them will vary a lot according to the season I am in and what else is going on in my life.
These will look different for you – and for each person, so don’t take this list in any way to mean what you should or shouldn’t have as a priority. This is my list and it changes as I go through different seasons of life.
My smaller rocks (still important but not foundational):
- Keeping in contact with extended family and friends
- Serving in my church
- Keeping my home clean and inviting
- Family outings together
- Family fun nights and traditions
- Hospitality, inviting people over for a meal.
- Serving others.
- Extra mural activities with my children.
These things are also important to me, but in hectic seasons there will be less time spent on them.
If some things can’t fit into your day, perhaps they can fit in on weekends or weeks off from school, but you need to make sure that you always have time to breathe in the midst of the business.
Different things can fit in in different seasons too – a lot less will fit in in a new year of a baby’s life. But that year doesn’t last forever, the seasons changes – so enjoy and embrace the season you are in and don’t expect to be able to do everything in all seasons. May the Lord bless your days!
You don’t want every minute of your days planned but you do want to have time for what is most important to you!
That’s it for Part 1 of How to Recover from Burnout. We’ll talk about four more important steps next time. See below for link.
Do you have any strategies to help you avoid or recover from burnout? Let us know in the comments.
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