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As a parent, one goes through a lot of physical and emotional work to keep the children safe. Well, a parent does not do it as “work”. It is only much later, and in times of extreme life transitions, that childcare needs some perspective.

  1. Signs of emotional exhaustion in parents
  2. Working towards self-care for parents
  3. Doctors for Emotional care for parents

Parents need to recognise signs of emotional exhaustion:

1. Prolonged irritability: One of the signs of emotional burnout is irritable mood through most of their waking hours. When as a parent, you find yourself irritated about little things, it is time to take a bird’s eye view of your situation. 

2. Angry outbursts: Lashing out with words and actions is another result of emotional fatigue. Anger communicates a need to distance one’s self from the ongoing interaction. Whenever we lash out, we come from a space of frustration and needing to seal the source of that frustration. The anger outbursts serve that purpose quite well; people move away, and we get relief from the source of discomfort.

3. Emotional numbness: Depletion of one’s emotional energy also leads to periods of emotional numbness. One reaches a state of inability to feel. If asked, “what happened?”, one may be unable to find the words to explain one’s inner experience. The emotional space feels like a blank.  

4. Wanting to stay aloof and not interact with others: When situations overwhelm us, it is a natural reaction of mind to tune out and stay in a space that reduces unrest and turmoil. Withdrawing from interactions serves this purpose. 

5. Pessimistic outlook: Having a pervasive sense of hopelessness about getting around personal, family and professional situations, is another sign that one has reached a stage of emotional burnout. There is a possible perception that life has reached a point where the situation will not get better, issues are not solvable. In addition to the hopelessness, one may also have an outlook that no one can help us in this situation and it will continue in the same direction of upheaval.

6. Jumpy concentration: If you find your otherwise well-placed focus giving way to a racing mind, along with most of the signs listed above, it could be a wake-up call that you need to stop and take some steps towards self-care.

Trust this basic premise: self-care will lead to capacities to take better care of others.

1. Start with physical self-care: When one is starting from a point of hopelessness, life seems insurmountable. The decision about where to begin is very difficult. Initiating a physical self-care routine could be a tangible starting point that does not burden our already aching emotional sensibilities. 

2. Discriminate actions that are in your control: When we are in charge of taking care of others, we often get stuck in situations where other people’s cooperation is needed in order to let us be a caring person in their life. It will take some observing acts to judge when you have that cooperation. If you find yourself faced with situations where a family member or child is not able to receive your care, you may want to ponder, “what can you really do?”, “what are some actions that do not need reciprocation from the other, and still allow you to provide nurturance that resonates with your sense of care.”

3. Learn to sleep with incomplete tasks: Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day. You have physical and emotional limitations of what can be completed. At the end of the day, there will be somethings that you “should have” done, but “could not” get through.

4. Let go at points of physical and mental fatigue: Training yourself to listen to your body will go a long way in keeping you alert to the moments when you should just let go of the tasks at hand, and call it a day.

5. Work towards a good night's sleep: Numerous studies have established the healing powers of sleep. Build a pre-sleep regime, such as taking a warm water shower, doing some light reading, listening to music. This routine should be based on your preferences.

6. Ask for help from family members: When we were in primary school, we used words such as please, thank you and sorry quite liberally. As adults, and parents, we seldom find ourselves using the word "please" like we really mean it.

7. Guide children towards contributing to family routines: As a life-long learner, children need to learn that family routines are a necessary part of life. Cooking meals, keeping one’s living space clean, doing laundry, and taking care of others in the family are part of living a fulfilling life. These are not extra tasks.  Moreover, family routines give children the much-needed physical exertion that their otherwise intellectual endeavours do not offer. 

8. Accept that there will be mistakes: When things go wrong, it means we have outcomes other than what we were hoping for. And life is full of such outcomes. Reminding yourself that this is just one situation in your long, long existence, and you can start again, will put you in a space of hope. After all, no one has it all figured out and being a parent comes with no previous training!

Dr. Naeem Shaikh

Dr. Naeem Shaikh

Psychology
5 Years of Experience

Dr. SIBANANDA MISHRA

Dr. SIBANANDA MISHRA

Psychology
25 Years of Experience

Geetika Kapoor

Geetika Kapoor

Psychology
12 Years of Experience

Nishtha Narula

Nishtha Narula

Psychology
3 Years of Experience

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