Burnout and recovery

I know there have been lots of subscriptions to this blog in recent weeks (because I receive the email alerts), and I wanted to apologize for the absence of new posts.  Simply put, I haven’t been feeling well for a long time.  My husband got laid off in October and is still out of a job and I have been really struggling with low-grade depression.

I have to say, I really miss blogging here.  This was my first attempt at blogging.  It’s been enormously successful in that I get about anywhere from 200-500 hits a day, which is unbelievably cool.

I just looked and saw that I’m up to 200,188 views since it’s inception.   You gals (and guys?) are great and I DO have more content to post.

Let me tell you…depression – even low-grade depression – sucks and I mean literally.    It sucks joy right out of your life.  And whether you are a parent or a teacher, lack of joy in your life hurts your kids too.

I know a lot of people who come here are educators and some are parents.  So, for my first post back, I wanted to share an awesome link to Fran’s website on educator wellness called WellEducator.org.  She has some awesome ideas to help with teacher burnout.  Do you recognize yourself in a stage of burnout?   Let me tell you, I don’t know Fran…directly, but she’s been commenting on my other blog about my burnout and I have appreciated her support. I wanted to tell her I appreciate her and share her blog with my readers on this blog too. What a great resource and it’s so thoughtful that she is sharing ideas on how to cope with teacher burnout.

I know a lot of my readers are parents who are either homeschooling their children or who are part-time homeschooling their children that could ALSO benefit from the ideas Fran has on her website, after all, parents are our children’s first teachers, right?  There’s lots of wonderful ideas to help recover from burnout we can use as parents.   Let’s face it…whether teacher or parent, taking care of children (whether your own or someone else’s) is HARD work; most caretakers of children do NOT do enough to prevent burnout and exhaustion.   Some of us tend to be perfectionists, idealists, and so OTHER-centered for most of the day that we forget to take care of ourselves (what, you mean it’s okay to have needs AND have some of them met? No way1?!?).

I’ve been a mother for 9 years and I’ve struggled through most of them and I’m really tired of floundering.  I have three daughters who are now 9, 7.5, and almost 6 – beautiful, sometimes frustrating, and oh so wonderful when they aren’t fighting with each other or melting down due to hypoglycemia.  I have got to tell you…I am recognizing and admitting that I am suffering from major burnout, and quite possibly adrenal fatigue.

I’m doing what I can to relieve my burnout…taking some spendy natural supplements…engaging in some mindfulness meditation…and recovering from well, pervasive negative self-talk, and seeing my old therapist, just to have someone to talk to about it rather than whine about it on the blog.

I’m starting to read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s books, starting with Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience:

If, according to the “old” saying, “Begin with the end in mind”, I’d like to see if I can find more

joy, creativity and the process of total involvement in life which [he] call[s] flow.

Which is something I think we are born with as children, but we lose over the course of our lives if we are unfortunate to have parents that are, for whatever reason, lacking joy and creativity.

I don’t know about you, but I have challenging children. Not challenging in necessarily a bad way. Just that my daughters have always needed more, and sometimes more than I had to give. Two of them are not great at emotional self-regulation, all three are highly sensitive in different ways, one who was struggling and overcame social anxiety/selective mutism, another who had a bad fright last Halloween and still has anxieties, and meeting their growing desires to participate in group activities (oldest is participating in her first ‘real’ sport – ragball – the step below softball; middle daughter is participating in chess club; middle and youngest will have science camp over the summer) when you have no income coming in adds a bunch of stress.

I think I’ll be addressing some of these core issues here (to get advice as well as share resources) on social-emotional development, how to encourage kids’ passions when you are on a shoe-string budget, dealing with family issues during job loss and how to help children cope with news about global crises too, more educational ideas, as well as interject some things I’ve found that are just plain fun.

Someone posted on my other blog another mama’s post on Five Strategies to Help a Moody Mama.

So, my first resolution is not to bite off more than I can chew. I am going to target a post a week, and not every few days like I was trying to before.


So, what do YOU do to reduce/prevent burnout as a parent/teacher?

How do you restore yourself when your stress has reached critical mass?

Do you have any links of favorite places to reduce your stress and live a more intentional life?

This entry was posted in Recovery from burnout, Stress. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Burnout and recovery

  1. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you can get some help with sharing the load…and that the load lightens. Getting some time for yourself is a must – a jamies day when the girls are out (are they ever out without you?), even just a halfhour a day built into your routine might help (I know one mum of a busy family of 6 boys who started to get up half an hour before she usually did, so she could spend it for herself – reading, praying, exercising, writing a quick note to someone… whatever you need to do). Good luck to you and your husband in getting that job! best wishes.

  2. growinginpeace says:

    Thank you Louise.

    Yes, the girls are without me this year for 6 hours a day for school, which is part of the problem, in a round about way. Two of them come home tired and cranky a lot. They don’t always get to eat their lunch (they talk too much, which is quite funny since one of them used to be selectively mute). Meltdowns are common in my 7 year old who has hypoglycemia…which would be resolved if she stayed home with me.

    And I miss them. I really do miss having them around. Last year I had one at home with me most of the day, and the other one half the day, and someone was always with me, so we’d have projects we’d do together.

    It’s not really them that is the problem…but the drain of my resources (physical and financial). It’s been a long while since I’ve felt ‘good’. I think I forgot to mention the underlying hashimoto’s thyroiditis that messes with my hormone levels.

    But, the hormone imbalance triggers more depression, which makes self-care difficult, which makes stress levels rise, which doesn’t help the whole situation.

    Fran was the one that made me give serious thought to adrenal fatigue. I’m supplementing now with a few things I know will help, even without getting the thyroid treated (I’m trying to cope with it naturally rather than using prescription drugs).

  3. Fran says:

    Hey, thank you for posting about my site! It sounds like you are on an interesting journey. I haven’t seen any statistics on burnout for homeschool parents, but I suspect it’s even higher than for public school teachers – for one, you are ALWAY ON.

    So good for you for being attentive to your needs. It’s certainly a challenge, especially when under the many stresses you are currently faced with. I love that you are blogging about it. Fran

  4. Phil says:

    First of all, I hope your situation is improved since you last wrote this. I realize that everyone is unique, so things that work for one may not have the same effect on others, but for what it is worth, these are the things I do to maintain an even keel especially in times of enormous stress. They are in no particular order and I apologize in advance if it appears a bit rambling, as they are streams of thought instead of a carefully crafted essay.

    Take some time to exercise. For me, it is a morning run or simply a walk on a trail. Physical fitness greatly reduces mental and emotional stress, and increases your energy reserves as well. Really, half an hour to 45 minutes or so a day, especially if done really early for me, makes me mentally more alert and in a much better frame of mind to take on the day’s challenge.

    Second, strive for balance in all you do, and make sure you set aside time for activities that you fully plan for. If you were to log your day minute by minute, you’d be appalled at how much of it is dealing with and reacting to unplanned events and issues. While that is normal, you must take some time to ensure things you planned do not get tossed aside entirely. Force yourself to do some things you’ve actually planned to do in between those impromptu moments when you are simply reacting to other stimuli. Gain control of your day instead of letting it control you – quite liberating.

    Call it meditation, call it daydreaming, call it trance, call it prayer, call it flipping on a pair of headphones and closing your eyes to listen to some calming music, call it whatever you want, but take some time to tap into what i call wakeful relaxation activities – allowing your mind some recess so to speak. Again, find some quiet time and just do it.

    Last but certainly not least, you were born with five senses – as best as possible, make sure you deliberately seek to use and develop these to heighten your awareness level. See something beautiful, hear something soothing and delightful, taste something delicious, smell something exotic, and touch something lush and comforting. Make sure you’ve taken some time to think and use that wonderful mind, and allow yourself to be moved, either to laughter or to tears by your emotion. Take stock of how much you’ve truly used all you have, all you were born with, and you’ll find that your life is indeed fuller and better for it all.

    If you made it this far without rolling your eyes into the back of your head, I thank you for listening. I’m sure things will get better and mostly because you’ve chosen to make them better of your own volition. Good luck!

  5. growinginpeace says:

    Phil –

    My eyes are firmly planted forward, though I am pretty stunned at the depth and care put into such a response (essay format or not), though I really shouldn’t be surprised. I’m familiar with your writing.

    I’m doing better, and you are so kind to ask.

    It’s pretty amazing that you wrote that today of the senses, seeing as I had written another blog post on my writing blog about intellectualism, soul, and sensuality.

    That blog is by far my favorite blog, because I let my hair down quite a bit as I explore some topics that most people aren’t comfortable reading. I think I’ll email you it so privately so as not to offend the gentler sensibilities among my readership on this blog.

    At any rate, I have a bit of a compulsion to think, write and philosophize and yet I do realize the importance of sensory input. I just adore music – and yet I oftentimes forget to play enough of it. I love walking in the woods. Touch is of high importance to me. I just have a tendency to get intensely absorbed in my intellectual pursuits to the detriment of my emotional/sensory needs.

    “Make sure you’ve taken some time to think and use that wonderful mind, and allow yourself to be moved, either to laughter or to tears by your emotion.”


    Oh tears I have no problem with. I cry rivers of them sometimes. Laughter is not as easy to come by, but my ability to laugh is better than in years past.

    Thanks for the great suggestions, I truly appreciate it. And yeah, I’m going to be printing out your thoughts and posting them on my refrigerator.


    • Phil says:

      Well then, I will look for your e-mail. I’m glad to hear you likewise have an appreciation for all the senses along with the mind and the heart. Just remember balance – increase your laughter to tears ratio. And smile – that’s an order! 🙂

      • growinginpeace says:

        Yes, sir! 😉

        I think the “increase the laughter to tears ratio” bit is definitely a necessity.

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