Helpguide.org describes burnout as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when one feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.” That definition coined what I was feeling, but now I am on the road to burnout recovery, and it feels good. I have been running on fumes for the longest while. In previous posts, I alluded to my burnout struggles, and even though I recognized what was happening to me, I was slow to act on it. My recent three-week trip to Guyana has been the reset my mental and physical were craving.
Burnout Affected My Ability To Work
The burnout I was feeling affected my ability to think. I could not blog for almost a month, and I wanted to, but the words were mushed. I felt disconnected, and I feared that my feelings would transfer to the audience if I published any work. As a result, I stopped posting. But a break from blogging, too, was necessary. It was better to take time out, reset and return than stay and produce sloppy work.
My Children Were Suffering From Burnout
The interesting thing to note about burnout is that your children feel it too. The monotony of online school had started getting to them again. They are at their wit’s end with it, and it is such a battle to get them to sit and endure for a few hours. In Guyana, I gave them an extra week off from school. Whatever work they missed, they could catch up on. In fact, this is my new attitude where this online school and pandemic situations are concerned. I was so worried about them falling behind that I transferred that to them, and they reacted negatively.
They enjoyed two carefree weeks of not worrying about what assignments and assembly they were missing. It was a pleasure to see them enjoying the sights and sounds surrounding them. There was no time for television; that was my favourite part of the trip. They recognized that life existed outside of technology; there was always something to do outside. That reminded me of my childhood, and I am so happy they got a glimpse into that.
So now we are back home in Canada, rejuvenated and ready to go. The simple tasks that were herculean when I was enduring burnout are now getting done with no trouble. Here are 5 reasons time off was great for my mental health.
1. Time Off Offers A Reset – CTRL + ALT + DELETE
We all know when our computers are sluggish, they may have been running for a couple of days without being reset. Once you restart that computer, it starts working well again. That was my feeling when I was on vacation. So, if you are suffering from burnout and want to recover, you need to reset. Once you do, you will have a new boost of energy and mental clarity.
You do not need to leave the country; you just need to leave your house, really. Get out and get some fresh air, do something different.
2. Time Off Boosts Your Overall Mood and Behaviour
I was agitated all the time. I could not help the children with their homework because I could not sit and focus that long. I was in a constant head fog; it was the worst feeling. I have returned from my vacation, and the head fog is gone, and I can assist the children with their homework. I am no longer crabby and snapping at every little thing.
3. Time Off Reduces Stress and Anxiety
My most significant source of stress was the monotony of online school. A combination of that and just being confined to the home and doing the same monotonous tasks. It was eating me from the inside out. Time off fixed that. The stress knot forming in my neck is gone, and my heart palpitations are fewer. A change in environment and removal from my source of stress assisted me with that. Every day we did something different. The kids got to try new food and learn more about our culture. We tell them things all the time, but there is nothing quite like experiencing it.
4. Time Off Allows Downtime With Your Family
As much as my mental health improved after our vacation, it did the same for the entire family. We got an opportunity to spend time with our nuclear and extended family. It was a pleasure to see the children interact with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was a noticeable change in their mood and behaviour as well. As a result, they were better students when they returned to the classroom.
5. Time Off Refills Your Empty Cup
I am sure you have heard the saying about not being able to pour from an empty cup. Let’s think about it for a minute. You have an empty cup, and you are trying to pour liquid from it. You cannot because there is nothing in it. Now, imagine being at the end of your rope with nothing to give and still expected to provide so much; you would be giving just air, absolutely nothing. Time away replenished my supply.
We had a little party on the night of our departure; so much love surrounded us. The vibration was different. I was fighting with my tears all day. I managed to keep myself intact, but I sobbed when our ride to the airport came, and my 10-year-old broke down. He was so sad to leave his grandparents and cousins behind. Their impact on the children during those three weeks will be etched in their memories forever. On our way home, Anayah, my eldest daughter, told me the trip home was worth every bug bite. Those bug bites were many and vicious, which speaks volumes about this experience.
If you are a parent suffering from the pandemic stress or any other stress, take a weekend off and go somewhere. It doesn’t have to be on an airplane; it could be a long drive in the country or a mini getaway. Do something to change the scenery, recharge, or reset so you can be whole and function in a manner that would benefit you and your loved ones. There should be no more pouring from cups that have exhausted their supply.