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When Burnout Becomes Your Middle Name

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
07/27/20  11:42 AM PST
burnt out

Has the past several months left you feeling burnt out? Life, as we know it, has been very different since March 16, 2020 – a date that will be forever etched in our mind.

So many parts of our lives have changed such as the liberties that we have taken for granted until they became restricted. Our ability to run an errand freely, meet up with a friend for a meal or cocktails, exercising at the gym, getting a haircut, hugging another person, going to a party, going on vacation. The changes have been drastic and were quick.

Overnight, we stumbled in setting up technology so that we may continue to work from home, if you were not an essential worker. And to set up virtual teaching for our children while we took on the role of teacher. And we did it. I know I grumbled through the first few weeks thinking it would come to an end in a month, at the very longest. But, I was wrong. We were all wrong. Very wrong.

Here we are, almost 4 months and 2 seasons later, we are still in quarantine and the COVID-19 virus continues to scare us, threaten us, worry us about our older parents and family members, ourselves and our children. Although parts of living in quarantine have become “normal” or shall I say, we have adjusted, this is hard, really hard.

Many people, parents, and children are feeling the weight of months of feeling distressed about a changed life, about significant life limitations, about the loss of many milestones such as graduations, weddings, baby showers, wedding showers, proms, and many other events that have been postponed indefinitely.

Many of us are burnt out. Cooked. Fried.

If you are able to check off several of the below statements, you are likely burned out and may need to seek support and respite:

  • You are constantly thinking about the Corona Virus and looking up information on-line.
  • You are ruminating about how long we will continue to be in quarantine.
  • You are tired all day long, but then restless and awake at night.
  • You find yourself craving a quiet mind.
  • You miss your old routine and think about it often.
  • You ask yourself “What if” often.
  • You’re tense most of the day.
  • Your sleep is choppy.
  • You miss interacting socially with others.
  • You are grieving missed milestones or events that would have taken place since quarantine.
  • You miss life’s little pleasures such as getting your nails done, getting a haircut or a massage freely.
  • You don’t leave our house often.
  • You order your groceries or plan grocery trips around low volume time.
  • You think about the spread of germs and where your hands (or your children’s hands) have been in relation to others.

Seeking Support

It’s often hard to recognize or admit that we are burnt out. We have taken great pride in taking on a great deal on a daily basis and then taking on more. We feel efficient and proud of ourselves even when we struggle to balance so much life in so little time. But right now, our usual go-to’s for coping are just not there.

  • It’s okay to ask for help. If you need to process your anxiety and worry, contact a therapist.
  • If you are struggling to find ways to relax your body and need the help of an outside agent, contact your Primary Care Physician or a psychiatrist for an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant.
  • If you are struggling to maintain activity and need guidance, hire a virtual personal trainer.
  • If you are working around the clock while also serving as a Camp Counselor, take some time off from work.
  • If you are not cut out to be a Camp Counselor, hire a trusted sitter to entertain your children while you work so that you are not balancing two worlds constantly.

For many of us, we are unsure when quarantine may come to an end and when COVID-19 will no longer be a threat. Honestly assess how you’re doing and seek the support you need. There’s no need to suffer any more.

Dr. Liz Matheis

 

Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified School Psychologist who specializes in working with children with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and behavioral struggles. She is also mom to three children, one with special needs. Her practice, Psychological and Education Consulting, is located in Livingston, New Jersey.

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