Here are some tips to help you take some time out this February and either find your way out of burnout or avoid it altogether.
- Prayer – “Jesus, I Trust In You”-No matter what stage of life you’re in, you can’t afford not to pray! Prayer is what keeps us open to God and allows us to see him working in our lives. Times of prayer is where we gain our strength the way Christ did in going to the desert to pray for 40 days. We must separate ourselves from the demanding, busyness of life and pray. Now, if you’re like me, you might not find an abundance of time for contemplative prayer, so consider praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy. This awesome prayer takes less than seven minutes, and through it, you pray not only for yourself but also the whole world! Through the chaplet, Jesus will undoubtedly rain graces of trust and peace upon you.
- Rest – If mama is tired, remember the sky can FEEL like it is falling! I know how hard this is to accept, but we can’t just go, go, go and expect amazing results! Consider evaluating how much rest you’re getting. When we’re actively parenting, nighttime can be rough, days are long, and personal time is rare to nonexistent. Consider putting yourself in timeout for an hour or getting to bed early to try to catch up on lost sleep. I know that if I take the time to care for myself, I feel better and more joyful. It’s difficult for this mama to be joyful on no sleep. I’m not a saint yet!
- Spiritual Rest: Consider attending a retreat, a day of reflection or a prayerful event on-line! You need to step away so to gain anew perspective on where you are at.
- Exercise – I know we read the exhortations everywhere, but many of us just don’t do it! If you’re in a rut, just admit it out loud and ask those in your life to help you make some healthy changes. Walk with the kids or play tag and see what it feels like to run as fast as you can! Getting your heart rate up and playing with your children can make a big difference in how you feel. Taking time out to get your heart rate up will not only burn useless calories but give you the endorphins you need to feel better!
- Eat Right – Yep, we know the nonstop urgings of this one, too, but it is truly beneficial. We need to take time out to invest in healthy eating and reduce our sugar and caffeine intake. I’m no expert, but I am well aware that sugar and caffeine will leave you dragging once they wear off! Just because you can eat it doesn’t mean you should. Our Catholic faith encourages us to fast because by fasting, we grow in self-control which helps us in all areas of our life!
- Write It Out – Journal about what’s burdening you! Christ tells us in Matthew 11:29-30, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Christ doesn’t want us to be burdened by expecting too much of ourselves or trying to meet the expectations of others. He wants to help us when we are physically, emotionally or spiritually struggling. Consider trying to determine what exactly has you stressed and develop a plan for success.
- Reach Out to Others – Faustina teaches us in her diary, Divine Mercy Within My Soul, that Christ wants us to not only think of others but also perform tasks of mercy in our deeds, words, and prayer. This can be done only when we are willing to get past ourselves. By serving others, we’re strengthened and renewed! “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35). Check out this Works of Mercy for Busy Moms printable checklist!
- Be Gentle With Yourself – “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11). Christ wants us to know that he loves us and yearns to carry us. God is gentle and patient with us and in return, we must be gentle with others and ourselves. Burnout is the result of expecting too much from ourselves and not making time to recover.
- A “No” Might Be A Yes – Choose your activities wisely, prayerfully deciding if your career, children’s activities, and even school match up with a realistic plan for your family. For some of us, getting out the door is hard enough, yet we still manage to take on major volunteer roles, agree to inconvenient travel plans or provide over-the-top hospitality. Learning to say no to some of these things is really saying yes to important, more beneficial opportunities for your family!
- Look To Others – Find a mentor who acts as a friend and someone you can share with regarding what you’re going through. Start by opening up and sharing with your husband. See if he has some insight for you as to how you can unburden yourself. Be honest with your spouse! In addition to your family, you might want to seek out others you can ask for advice from and be willing to hear their perspective. No one is standing in your shoes or has endured exactly what you’re going through but listening to and learning from others is both therapeutic and comforting. You might just learn a new strategy for juggling all your responsibilities!
The truth is, If you are really struggling, call your doctor to ensure that you don’t have a deeper health concern than simple stress. As moms, we often neglect our own health and miss out on check-ups and medical advice we can benefit from!
*This advice also was featured in an article I posted at www.Catholicmom.com.