As a mom, you are definitely familiar with exhaustion, but the burnout you are probably feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic is extreme. New responsibilities, more time at home, and the overall stress and anxiety throughout the world can affect your mental health, and it’s important to recognize when you’re experiencing pandemic fatigue.
Here are some signs that pandemic stress may be affecting your mental health:
• Becoming easily irritated
• Feeling helpless, weary, or apathetic
• Difficulty concentrating on tasks
• Headaches, nausea, muscle tension, or other physical health problems
• Difficulty sleeping
• Becoming less diligent about washing your hands and wearing a mask
If you’ve been facing any of these symptoms, know that you’re not alone. Moms are under a massive amount of stress, and no one is handling everything perfectly. The best thing you can do is check in with yourself regularly to make sure your mental health isn’t suffering while you support your family throughout this crisis.
Causes of Pandemic Fatigue in Parents
There are several reasons moms may struggle with fatigue as the pandemic continues to play out. If you’re trying to get to the root of your exhaustion, here are some possible explanations:
Although moms are used to multitasking, the demands on parents immediately skyrocketed when the pandemic hit. Many parents have to adjust to working from home while also schooling their children from home. Along with normal household chores and tasks, your mind is probably racing with a mile-long to-do list at all times.
Constantly switching between different tasks can be particularly exhausting. If you’re trying to be a mom and a teacher or a teacher and an employee at the same time, your mental energy is going to run out quickly.
Decision fatigue may be worse now than ever. At the beginning of the pandemic, staying home and social distancing were the recommendations across the board. Now, as some states ease into reopening schools, businesses, and other public spaces, it’s up to each of us individually to decide what to do.
School is open, but should you send your children in or keep them home? Indoor dining is allowed in some cities, but does that mean it’s safe to go out to dinner with a friend? Can your children have a playdate? Is it okay to schedule a haircut? Should you visit your extended family?
These options may all be allowed right now in your community, but there’s still a risk involved. Every day, parents are facing these difficult decisions about staying safe while navigating reopening. Things that used to be mundane, like going to the grocery store, are now big events. Constantly worrying about making the right choices to keep yourself and your children healthy can take a major toll on your mental health.
Compassion fatigue is emotional strain or exhaustion from caring for others who are in pain. People who are highly empathetic or sensitive are especially vulnerable to feeling this kind of exhaustion, and moms are experiencing it now more than ever.
Parents put the emotional and physical needs of their children first. While we all stay home, you’re probably spending even more time than usual caring for your kids. Emotions are high right now, especially for children who are feeling the stress and confusion of being home from school and away from friends. It’s hard enough for adults to deal with this crisis, let alone children who haven’t developed coping skills yet. Not only are you working through your own stress and heartache about the current state of the world, but you’re also holding space for your children’s emotions.
Lack of Support Resources
Everyone needs to take a break sometimes, and it’s always been important for moms to have opportunities to focus only on themselves for a little while. Unfortunately, most of these opportunities don’t exist anymore due to the pandemic.
Evenings out with your friends may seem like a distant memory, and it may be hard just to get a few minutes to yourself at home. When everyone’s home, the stress of juggling all these responsibilities can feel inescapable. Your support and self-care resources may not be accessible anymore, which makes it difficult to maintain good mental health.
How to Get Through It
While some degree of exhaustion may be inevitable, there are ways you can reduce or prevent extreme fatigue. Here are some tips for moms to keep in mind during the pandemic:
Be kind to yourself
First and foremost, don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling with pandemic fatigue. Almost everyone is having a hard time functioning during this crisis. Exhaustion is completely normal and expected when the world changes so suddenly. Criticizing yourself will only increase your stress levels and worsen the fatigue.
You might not have time to take a lengthy break, but try to take at least a few five-minute breaks throughout the day. Whenever you have the opportunity to slow down and breathe for a moment, don’t pass it up. Short breaks can help you recharge so that you can stay focused and energized throughout the rest of the day.
Creating boundaries to protect your mental health is critical. If scrolling through social media or watching the news makes you anxious, set a daily time limit for how long you can engage with those platforms. If working from home is throwing off your work-life balance, stop answering work calls or emails after a certain time in the evening. Recognize what you can do to minimize stress, and set rules for yourself accordingly.
Ask for help
Moms sometimes struggle with asking for help, but no one can perfectly handle every challenge that comes their way during a crisis. You don’t have to do everything yourself. If you have a partner, ask them to step in when you’re having a particularly tough day. Ask your children to complete age-appropriate chores, and look into community resources that may provide
Speak to a therapist
If your stress, anxiety, or fatigue are severely affecting your mental health or daily functioning, therapy may be the best option. Many therapists are currently offering virtual sessions so that you can meet with them from home. Therapy provides a space for you to focus on yourself and your own mental health, which can be a rare opportunity for moms. Therapy can also help you find ways to cope with the stress of the pandemic.
Moms are currently in a very difficult situation, and quarantine fatigue is a real issue. Keeping up with extra responsibilities while making tough decisions for your family can lead to burnout. Remember that you’re not alone in your exhaustion and that this won’t last forever. While we wait for better times, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers therapy for moms to clients in the Los Angeles area. Our therapists are here to help if you’re experiencing fatigue, stress, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns. Contact us today to learn more.