News Flash: Faux Self-Care is not the way to prevent burnout for Mom’s. Boundaries are. I wanted to share with you all some of the BEST advice I have read in some time on Burnout. And you just got it. Here’s how to prevent burnout for Mom’s.
As you may or may not have read recently, physician burnout is becoming a BIG thing. As is working MOM burnout. And stay-at-home MOM burnout. Also, dog burnout. Not really – they have the life, don’t they? Sometimes I just want to be a dog.
But I did read the BEST article a few months ago on Physician Burnout written by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a psychiatrist for doximity.com. And many of those lessons apply to ALL women.
How NOT to prevent Burnout for Mom’s
As women, we so frequently hear that burnout is best managed with a massage or a manicure. Dr. Lakshmin’s analysis states that faux self-care is NOT the answer. All faux self-care becomes is another thing to do on an already long to-do list. I have experienced this myself. A few years ago, I had a few male patients, and my loving husband, comment on my plain nails.”Why don’t you get your nails done?” they asked. Yes, I agree that is weird. Why are male patients paying that much attention to my nails? That’s another topic altogether. And the better part is I have actually never had a woman comment on my plain nails. They did comment on my painted nails, though. There’s a psychology test there.
Check out those nails!
I decided that I SHOULD treat myself to a shellac manicure – why not spend a little time on myself? So, I started getting them done. At first, I enjoyed the down time and having lovely nails (and they were lovely). Then, I started enjoying them less. Getting my nails done turned into something I was trying to get in while my daughter was at horse-riding lessons. That stunk. I was rushing, the nail salon was rushing, and I was paying money to stress more. And my nails, that are naturally strong, looked horrible when I didn’t keep up the regimen. What about that was helping prevent the dreaded burnout? Are there things like this in your life? Are they making your life better or just contributing to the stress?
How TO prevent Burnout for Mom’s
Most women want to please. Setting “self-care” as a goal to prevent burnout sounds good. It is easy. It’s just one more thing I can put on MY OWN plate to make myself happier. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Burnout is truly the result of a lack of BOUNDARIES. It’s about doing the INTERNAL work of making decisions to value YOURSELF first so that you can be present for the things that matter to you. It’s about setting your limits and sticking to them. It’s about taking the time to think before saying YES. It’s about setting BOUNDARIES and being ok with “No.” Said politely as women do, of course.
I was reminded of this first-hand recently with a challenge from my sometimes-difficult-husband. It seems he feels I have over-extended myself. What about medicine, motherhood, volunteering on 2 boards, starting a blog, and driving ALL of the time would make him think that? I was approached by a 3rd organization to join their board. And I had promised to run any future endeavors by him before saying my automatic YES. Saying NO is a struggle for me – obviously.
My husband knew I wouldn’t say NO so he came up with an interesting solution. “Tell them I will do it,” he said. “Seriously?” I asked. What an amazing husband! He was really willing to do this for me? That kind of investment of time? WOW. I was definitely growing on him. I was creating a giver, just like me. And then I realized the difference. My husband knew that if he joined, he would have NO PROBLEM practicing BOUNDARIES. He knew I would. And he was so tired of watching me struggle to balance that he was preparing solutions AROUND me. Ouch.
Boundaries are Easier Said Than Done
Until we learn to value OUR time first, a massage is going to fix nothing (except my neck pain and it does actually help with that). And you can’t always rely on your husband to say NO for you. “In medicine martyrdom is almost an epidemic,” Lakshmin notes. “What martyrdom gets you is exhausted, burnt out, and still running full speed pretending that you love to help everyone else, but actually just oozing resentment. It’s a formula that’s set up to fail.” Anyone out there resonating with that? No, me neither.
The more busy we are, the better we feel about ourselves. We pat ourselves on the back about managing a home, a job, a family, volunteering, etc. We can do it all! But at what cost? Do our children bear the brunt of a tired Mom who gets upset easily? Do our husband’s have to step in and tell us enough because we can’t do it ourselves? What expectations are we setting for our daughters when they grow-up and learn from how we did it?
Giving Back versus Giving In
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in giving back. We are raising a generation of entitled children that NEED to learn to help others. I ENJOY helping others, I really do. But we all have our limits. And we must recognize them for ourselves first. No one else can set your boundaries for you. And, if you pride yourself on over-achieving, you can become your own worst enemy. After all, for the Mom’s among us, our biggest goal, no matter who you are, is raising your children to be good, healthy adults. Does your burnout help that?
Simple Solution: BOUNDARIES prevent burnout. Faux self-care isn’t going to fix it. You are SO MUCH more than just that list of achievements. Keep what’s important and fills you up and ditch the rest. And, I agree, men commenting on your nails in a professional setting is inappropriate.
For Doctor Lakshmin’s full article, check out: https://opmed.doximity.com/articles/we-dont-need-self-care-we-need-boundaries-79042584b318
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