Running on empty
Running into the sun
But I’m running behind…
My new theme song, the music that best describes my life? Jackson Brown’s “Running on Empty.” I’m burning the candle at both ends and many, many nights it is “taking all night” to get done what needs to be done.
I crawled into bed at 3:30 am this morning only to be startled awake at 6:40 by a phone call about a family emergency. My day started with 3 hours sleep, it is now 12:46 am and life is feeling crazy. It’s my life though and I love it. I’m juggling quite a few balls but I’ve learned when to put them down and put on the breaks. Have you?
Is multi-tasking your standard method of operating? If you are a woman, it probably is. Married or single, us women are caregivers, problems solvers…we are everything to everyone.
If you are a divorced, single mom who works, more than likely you are stressed out and exhausted. Your day may start at 6:30 am and end at midnight. You hold yourself to high standards.
You have a career to build, children, to parent and parent perfectly. Those two things alone would wear on anyone both physically and mentally. Throw in everyday problems like car maintenance, cooking, cleaning, an elderly parent to care for or, a house full of kids with the chicken pox and life will begin to take its toll.
Signs You Are Running on Empty:
- Feelings of fatigue
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Feeling irritable and moody
- An inability to concentrate, memory problems, feeling “spaced out”
- Feeling a lack of desire for sex
- Generally feeling unwell
If you relate, then I’m right there with you! We push ourselves too hard and end up with major burnout. I have a few suggestions for you, aside from reading a good book, pouring a glass of wine or unplugging the phone. Those things are temporary fixes.
For long-term well-being, it is time to change your MO and feel better. A permanent fix means making a habit out of the following activities and behaviors.
How to Fill up Your Tank:
Work Out: Exercise or participate in some physical activity daily (walking, dancing, biking, running, swimming, etc.) for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times per week. Consider learning a stress-management exercise such as yoga or tai-chi, which teaches inner balance and relaxation.
Ask for Help: To avoid burnout and stress, you can enlist the help of other family members, friends. There is no need to feel vulnerable for reaching out. And you are certainly worth support from others.
Take a Break: Take a single day, a weekend, or even a week’s vacation. And when you’re away, stay away. Talk about different things, read that book you haven’t been able to get to, see a movie. Only a real break will renew and refresh you.
Eat Well: Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins, including also nuts, beans, and whole grains. Indulging in caffeine, fast food and sugar as a quick “pick-me-ups” also produce quick “let-downs.”
Take Care of Yourself: Just like you make sure your children get to the doctor regularly, make sure you get your annual check-up. Being a single mom provides many excuses for skipping your necessary check-ups, but you cannot and should not compromise your health.
Indulge: Treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out or a concert to take yourself away from your situation and to reward yourself for the wonderful care you are providing your children. You shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to feel good.
Remember, if you take care of yourself, your children will be happier, your attitude will improve, and you’ll feel more accomplished and content.
Hi Cathy! Do you have tips on how to get rid of that “guilty” feeling experienced when you take care of yourself? I’m a Stanford student working on a project with moms who have gone through divorce and would love to hear more about your experience.