Do women and men experience burnout differently? If we can pinpoint the ways men and women experience burnout, then folks like me who work to help busy professionals better prevent burnout can tailor better, earlier and more specific interventions.
Once you become the president of a family, nobody gives you permission to step back. You must take it for yourself. And if you're like me and you don't, you will feel your emotional stock tanking. You owe it to everyone to get the hell out once in a while.
We go, go, go, go all the days. Our schedules are marked on and highlighted and color-coded as we race from one activity to the next or divide and conquer while kids have different activities in totally different cities.
Living every day to its fullest doesn't have to mean cramming three days worth of life into a one day bag. It doesn't have to mean living the most extraordinary, action-packed, blisteringly important day of your life. It just means a full day.
Six specific sources of burnout have been identified, and to date, much of the research about these sources has been related to work; however, I am surprised at how well they translate to non-work and specifically, to parenting.
Finish my Christmas shopping -- with your own money. Wrap said Christmas presents beautifully. Find my sunglasses. Make a kick-ass gingerbread house that looks like the Witch's cottage from Hansel and Gretel so that I can look like all the other awesome moms on Pinterest.
Stress isn't out there -- it's how you respond to stress that determines your experience. Thoughts and words are a critical part of that because they mirror how you interpret what's going on around you.
Of course, being exhausted is not just for parents. Once you hit a certain age, energy is just harder to come by; pretty much everyone I know is exhausted all the time. It's just life. But as a parent, there is one primary reason I am always so tired.
Looking back, it's obvious that my lifestyle wasn't sustainable. But back then, I wore my workaholism like a badge of honor. The way I saw it, I had an awesome job and would work as hard as it took to do well. Instead, it was a classic case of burnout.
As babies like to do when their mothers are seconds away from taking the first bite of a meal, my infant son started to cry. He was crying because he was hungry. I tried to decide if I should feed him or just eat a few bites of bagel myself. Feed him or eat? Feed him or eat?
I believe 2013 is a tipping point: the year where those who have survived during the recession, who have been bombarded all year long, will realize that life is too short to not make the time for the people you love or -- most importantly -- to make the time to love yourself.
May you be reminded that your willingness to engage, to meet new people, to initiate the next get-together, to schedule women into your life and to foster these friendships over time is proving to raise your wellbeing! And don't we all want that?
We sometimes forget that those great minds in medicine live in a body -- a human body. Those bodies need restorative sleep, nourishing food, stable blood sugar, exercise, and time for connection, reflection, and community.