Ever had one of those days? When you wake up thirty minutes past your alarm… Your partner is out of town… The baby is crying… Your toddler spilled chocolate milk on their only clean school uniform… You forgot to switch the laundry (so your clothes smell a bit too mildewy)… And you forgot about the dentist appointment you’re supposed to be at, like, now…
…Trust us, we’ve all been there.
Whether she realizes it or not, every mom carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. And therefore, it’s incredibly easy to get burnt out. Many parents grappled with burnout during the pandemic. However, a recent survey revealed that 66% of working parents still feel burnt out, and — news flash — moms were at the top of that list.
Developing a self-care routine for avoiding burnout is a great way to ensure you’re being the best mom you can be. If you need help getting started, keep scrolling for our top self-care tips for moms.
What Is Mom Burnout?
Essentially, mom burnout is a chronic state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. It occurs whenever ongoing stress drains a mother’s energetic resources, and it’s exceedingly high in moms with full-time careers or without a co-parent. Unfortunately, moms who feel burnt out have an increased risk of mental health problems and familial or relational conflicts, which can diminish their overall well-being.
Symptoms of Mom Burnout
Because every mother is unique, symptoms of mom burnout vary from person to person. Generally, they include:
- Being short-tempered
- Feeling emotionally depleted
- Disconnection from partner or co-parent
- Feeling like you’re an inadequate parent
- Feeling disconnected or isolated from others
- Inability to state your needs or ask for support
- Extreme mental fatigue or physical exhaustion
- Feeling anxious or overly focused on the future
- Concerns that your children deserve better than you
- Feeling like you’re never good enough – at home or work
- Questioning life choices (including regretting having children)
- Social fatigue that prevents you from tapping into social networks
- Feeling mom guilt about behaviors, reactions, feelings, or thoughts
- Entertaining “escapist” fantasies and/or wanting to be away from your children
- Experiencing mom rage (being hostile or having extreme emotional highs and lows)
Self-Care Tips for Moms
Want to avoid mom burnout? Here are some ways to cultivate self-care for busy moms:
When life gets busy, sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. However, research proves time and time again that sleep is essential to both our physical and mental well-being. Not only does it boost our mood, but adequate sleep improves our brain performance and heals our bodies. Not to mention, sleep deprivation increases the risk of many chronic health problems (ranging from heart disease and stroke to obesity and dementia).
If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, try optimizing your nighttime routine using these tactics.
Get Some Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best mom self-care hacks. That’s because physical activity reduces the body’s stress hormones (like adrenaline and cortisol) and releases endorphins – which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood boosters.
Find a Support System
Social support impacts a mother’s health in a multitude of ways. For mothers who feel as though they aren’t in control of their lives (which is a symptom of burnout), social networks can reduce stress and other mental health problems. As a result, moms act more positively towards their children.
Additionally, social relationships protect a mother’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as they buffer stressors, reduce psychological distress, eliminate social isolation, and minimize depression and anxiety. Moms who don’t have a social support system are at a higher risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders.
Consider a Technology Detox
One study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep – which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance. Additionally, social media breeds comparison culture, and seeking validation from the internet often replaces the meaningful connections moms could otherwise make in real life. Therefore, research has confirmed that limiting social media decreases feelings of depression and loneliness.
Know Your Risk Factors
Moms who live in individualistic cultures — rather than collective — are more likely to suffer from mom burnout. So are low-income moms and those who are compensated for professional work done outside the home. However, by knowing their risk factors (or triggers), moms can readily identify what they’re feeling and experiencing, which can foster positive change.
Eating a healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods — like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — provides the fuel for exercise, reduces inflammation, and minimizes your risk of chronic diseases.
Additionally, the foods we consume directly affect our mental well-being, as over 90% of our serotonin is produced by our gut bacteria. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that boosts mood, cognition, and memory, and low serotonin levels have been linked to depressive feelings, sadness, and fatigue.
Therefore, moms should fuel their guts with prebiotics (fruit, vegetables, and whole grains) and probiotics (fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kombucha, gouda cheese, pickled vegetables, and cottage cheese) to boost serotonin levels.
Speak With a Therapist
Going to therapy for burnout is a great form of mom self-care. Not only are therapists impartial and easy to talk to, but they can provide tools to cope with the stressors of parenthood. Remember that you don’t have to wait until you have a “real problem” to visit a therapist. Even regular, monthly check-ins are fantastic ways to clear your mind and refocus on what matters to you.
Set Goals and Priorities
As much as we’d like to, it’s impossible to do it all. And to avoid burning out, moms need to differentiate urgent tasks from those that can wait. Every mom should learn how to say “no” when she needs to. And at the end of the day, remember to focus on all that you’ve accomplished instead of everything you still need to do.
Spend Time in Nature
Scientific studies show that regular walks through nature improve mental health. In addition, grounding — which involves doing things that electrically connect you to the Earth (like walking barefoot through the grass) — has been shown to improve sleep, reduce pain, and combat stress.
Journal to Track Your Mood
Journaling is a phenomenal opportunity to step back and reflect on the day, your accomplishments, and your areas of imperfection. In this way, it allows moms to become mindful observers of their own lives and family dynamics, and it helps them identify patterns that could prevent future burnout. Additionally, this form of emotional mom self-care sets an excellent example for children.
Explore Mindful Parenting
Mindful parenting is a technique that grounds you in the moment and keeps you focused on the tasks at hand. Consequently, this can help moms avoid perpetuating feelings of anxiety. Focusing on the “here and now” deescalates the urge to forge ahead, especially when it might not be the best decision for yourself or your family.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Moms
Whether it’s with friends or on social media, comparison culture is detrimental to a mom’s mental health. Instead of focusing on what others are “doing right” or “doing better,” figure out what works for you and your family. Moms should parent in a way that aligns with their values (regardless of anyone else’s) to feel in control and less chaotic.
It’s not uncommon for moms to prioritize their children’s and spouse’s needs over their own. However, making time for self-care is necessary to manage the mental, psychological, and emotional load of motherhood.
Because everyone is unique, alone time looks different for different moms. And if you’re unsure where to start, try doing something that’s just for you. Personally? We love taking baths, practicing mindfulness, going on a walk through the neighborhood, reading, or watching a show that no one else likes. Instead of setting rigid rules and expectations, mom self-care is simply identifying what your needs are on a given day and making sure they’re met.
Making Time for Self-Care as a Mom
At the end of the day, moms are people too. And making time for self-care is necessary to become the best parent you can be. If you’re struggling with mom burnout, know that you’re not alone. These self-care tips for moms will help you parent with love, grace, patience, and self-compassion.