I love my role as a stay-at-home mom, but I am just burned out. I wander aimlessly. I know I need my routines again, I know I need structure, but this once big-time routine-oriented mama is now struggling to get up out of bed. Do you have any advice or suggestions for how I can break out of this rut I’m stuck in? -Chrissy
My heart goes out to you, Chrissy! I am so sorry that you are struggling and feeling so exhausted and burned out. I can’t promise that I have any miracle solutions for you, but I will share some things I’ve learned from my own journey through postpartum depression and burnout two years ago.
1. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is vitally important to your overall health and well-being. If you’re short on sleep, it can affect many areas of your life — including your moods and motivation.
Make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep almost every day. If you’re up at night with a baby and it’s impossible to consistently get a good night’s sleep, do the best you can do and let anything go that isn’t a necessity so that you can make sleep a priority. You’ll be much more productive and energetic when you are awake if you give yourself the grace to step away from the to-do list and get some shut-eye instead.
Go to bed early. Studies have shown that those who stay up late and get up late are more likely to struggle with depression. I’ve also found that I feel much more rested (and am more efficient the next day!) if I go to bed early rather than trying to stay up and get stuff done when I’m exhausted, only to wake up feeling all groggy in the morning.
Take power naps. If you can’t get a long stretch of sleep at night because your husband works weird hours and your babies are up multiple times throughout the night, try power naps. I used to think I wasn’t a napper, but I’ve found that if I feel tired in the afternoon, lying down and sleeping for just 20 or 30 minutes can really re-energize me for the rest of the day.
Find your sleep number. No, I’m not referring to the sleep number beds, but to your personal number of hours of sleep that you need to get every night to function at maximum capacity. For most people, it will be somewhere between 7 and 9 hours.
Experiment with getting 7 hours of sleep every night for a week and see if you feel rested and energetic all day long. If not, increase to 7.5 hours of sleep for a week. Continue to experiment until you land on what works best for you and then make that number a priority every night, as much as you possibly can.
2. Get Your Thyroid and Hemoglobin Checked
If you haven’t been to the doctor to get your thyroid and hemoglobin checked and other bloodwork done, I recommend picking up the phone and making an appointment today. Many times, what might feel like an emotional imbalance — or what you might think is just some lack of motivation on your part! — is actually a physical issue that can be easily treated and fixed.
3. Fill Your Mind With Good Things
Read God’s Word. If you are a Christian, make spending time in God’s Word and prayer on a daily basis your number one priority. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mom, it’s how much I need God — every single moment of every single day.
I encourage you to start your day with at least a few moments in God’s Word and prayer. Take five or ten minutes to pray over your day, asking God to give you strength and grace to face the tasks before you. I also highly recommend reading a good devotional book, along with a passage of Scripture. (I’ve loved Amy Carmichael’s devotionals and am being very blessed by Jesus Calling right now.)
Read good books. Books such as Calm My Anxious Heart or Today Matters, can help encourage, inspire, and re-invigorate you when you feel worn out and lifeless. Even reading just one page per day or listening to three minutes of an audiobook each day can give you a little extra boost — and the motivation to keep on, keeping on. You can see a list of all of the Books I Read in 2011 here and the Books I’ve Read So Far in 2012 here.
Listen to music. When I’m down, I’ve found that music can be a huge pick-me-up. Even if I don’t feel like listening to music, if I turn it on, I usually can’t help but be uplifted. And singing along with some of my favorite songs can also be a big mood-brightener.
Count your blessings. It’s easy to become discouraged if we focus on everything that’s wrong or difficult in our life. However, instead of dwelling on the negative, challenge yourself to think of at least three to five things to be thankful for. It’s amazing how a grateful spirit can change your mood — and even your whole outlook on life!
…to be continued on Monday
What has helped you overcome burn-out or exhaustion? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips!
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