Are you feeling as though there is less and less time to complete your to-do list? You try to make a doctor’s appointment for an annual checkup only to find you don’t have time so once again you put off your health in order to get stuff done. You can’t remember the last time you took personal time to do something for yourself. If you’re constantly on the go, it’s not only affecting your emotional and physical health, it’s affecting your relationships, too. Physical symptoms such as stress, headaches, and stomach problems lead to chronic intestinal issues and emotional exhaustion, such as burnout. Burnout can make you feel drained, unable to cope, tired, and numb with even your closest relationships.
That emotional exhaustion spills over into the bedroom. You don’t want to have intimacy because you’re too tired to invest the time it takes. You’re not in the mood to engage and make a date with your partner, because you feel unable to focus or even remember to text your partner. You may become irritable, withdraw, and angry for no reason, which further isolates you from your partner, leaving your partner feeling neglected and resentful.
Marriage is about sharing the load. When you’re burned out, you find yourself wanting to be alone. If you continue to cancel date nights or don’t feel like being around friends, the people who love you most feel as though you’re trying to avoid them. Your partner may give up hope and begin wondering if you’re as committed to the relationship as you used to be. It can leave them feeling helpless in their attempts to try and engage you.
Because burnout is gradual, you often don’t know you’re in it; however, not dealing with it escalates the problem. If you pay attention and reduce the stress early, you can prevent burnout and protect your relationships. If you’re not sure what you’re feeling, here are signs you’re experiencing burnout:
You feel exhausted or drained most of the time.
You’re unmotivated to try new things, exercise, or achieve goals.
You’ve grown cynical, feeling like nothing you do will help or matter.
You experience body aches and pains regularly.
You feel helpless, alone, or detached.
Most people give into these symptoms and turn to comfort foods, stop exercising, and withdraw from their partner and friends. This continues the downward cycle. What you need to be doing is prioritizing self-care and turning to your partner and family for support and validation. Here are some things couples can do to minimize burnout and support each other:
Go for a walk together. It sounds like a cliché, but that’s because walking is the oldest (and easiest) way to transition from feeling numb and overwhelmed to feeling present and in control. Doing a high-intensive workout may seem like a good idea, but adrenaline can actually intensify feelings of stress and anger.
Go on a “self-date.” If you have children, ask your partner to watch them or trade off time so you can get away. During your self-date, do something for yourself that improves your mood. It might be a trip to the local florist, a garden museum, art museum, or having a massage or haircut. The idea is to take time to pamper and refresh yourself.
Begin a new eating program. When you’re feeling numb and overwhelmed, you don’t make good food choices. You get off track with health and fitness, turning to comfort foods and high sugars. This makes your body sluggish, increasing your feelings of stress and self-doubt.
Talk to your partner about committing to “no electronic” times each day. Couples who plan to shut off their gadgets in the same window time frame each day spend more time with face-to-face communication. They report feeling more connected and emotionally closer, reducing feelings of isolation and despair.
Talk to a therapist. No matter how much your partner or family member loves you, listening you complain about how you feel is not good for you, them, or the marriage. Burnout or loss of passion can mask a deeper emotional issue, such as chronic depression and anxiety. If practicing the suggestions provided doesn’t seem to reduce your feelings of stress, confusion, or hopelessness, it’s time to seek professional mental healthcare. Deeper marriage issues can cause feelings of burnout. A therapist can help evaluate your situation and guide you to appropriate help. You can only look after and love other people if you first take the time to love and look after yourself.
No one can do it all. You cannot give 100% to your work, partner, family, and friends without taking time for yourself. Self-care is not selfish; it’s a way of refilling your “love tank” so you can continue to respect yourself while loving and nurturing those closest to you.