Are You Experiencing Pandemic Burnout?
November 10, 2020
For months now we’ve been living with the specter of COVID-19 hovering over us. It’s been scary, heartbreaking, unrelenting and has flipped our daily routines upside down. The pandemic has burdened us with pressures unlike anything we’ve dealt with before.
Parents Are Experiencing a New Breed of Emotional and Physical Burnout
If you feel like you’re well past your max capacity of stress, you’re not alone. In April and August, Eagle Hill Consulting conducted a COVID-19 Employee Burnout Survey to see how workers were handling the pressures associated with the outbreak. Not surprisingly, 58% of U.S. workers said worries about COVID-19 and its effect on their jobs and personal lives has them feeling burned out. When you drill down to look at parents of kids involved in remote learning, the burn-out level jumps to 65%. That’s nearly two-thirds of parents with children learning from home reporting that they’re physically and emotionally worn out.
Kiddie Academy Health and Wellness Advisor, Dr. Jason Goldstein, bears out the report’s findings. He says that in recent months, he’s observed much more stress and burnout among his patients. “These are exhausting times for parents and kids alike. Parents are having to navigate a lot of new territories, like working from home, working later or different hours, parenting with less emotional reserve, less exercise and less time to unwind and recharge. They’re dealing with their own elevated stress levels, plus trying to recognize and manage stress in their children. All the while, we’re getting overloaded with ever-changing information from experts with a confusing view of what the future holds.”
Feel better? Maybe not. But Dr. Goldstein says that recognizing the signs of stress is the first step toward taking care of yourself so you can take care of your family. He says there are things to pay attention to that might signal you’re stressed out. Those include:
- Changes in your sleep or appetite
- Deep, unexplained sadness
- Volatile behavior
- Decreased interest or pleasure from activities that brought you joy in the past
What to Do When You’re Burned Out
To move forward from the burnout and stress, Dr. Goldstein offers the following suggestions for coping, especially as it relates to how you interact with your children.
1. Check in with your mood at various points throughout your day – Try to notice if you’ve been especially frustrated or tense and whether you’ve been letting it seep through in your actions or words. Kids easily pick up on our attitudes and will mimic what they see.
2. Take breaks – Step away from the television or computer. Put down your phone. If you need and it’s safe to do, take off your mask and go outdoors for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and try to relax.
3. Don’t meet frustration with frustration – Getting mad often doesn’t help. Try to recognize your own anger and stress and don’t follow up on your child’s negative behavior until you have a chance to reflect (often 12-24 hours later). Then have a conversation about what you both could have done differently. This works best for children who are verbal – age 3 and up. For age 2 and under, you just need to try to put your own feelings aside and meet the child with patience.
4. Lean on your support network – Talk to someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be a professional. A friend or family member who can provide a sympathetic ear and empathetic support goes a long way in resetting your mood.
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Dr. Goldstein serves as an independent medical consultant to Kiddie Academy Domestic Franchising, LLC (KADF). The views expressed and information presented are Dr. Goldstein’s professional opinion , and are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. KADF encourages you to confirm the information with other sources, and to review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.