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How to Overcome Burnout and Get Back on a Routine (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, be sure to read it here before you read Part 2 below.

4) Take Care of Your Health

As women, we often are prone to take care of everything and everyone else before we take care of ourselves. The problem is, if we do this for months on end, soon we are going to end up so worn down and fatigued that we won’t be able to take care of anyone.

Make your health a priority — even if it means you must say “no” to other seemingly important commitments. In the long run, it will be every bit worth it.

Nourish your body with good foods.

In addition to making sure you’re getting enough sleep, make sure that you are nourishing your body with good foods. I’ve found that I feel so much more energetic if I eat at least one big salad everyday. If I don’t eat one for lunch, I eat one for dinner. Some days, if I’m feeling like I really need the extra nutrition and energy boost, I’ll eat one for lunch and dinner.

I don’t eat all these salads because I always feel like it, I eat them because I know that I won’t like how I feel if I don’t eat them. So I down the greens — and I always am thankful I did afterward. 🙂

If you can, chop up some veggies or wash and tear lettuce on the weekends. Then you don’t have to spend a lot of prep time throughout the week. And, you also have fewer excuses for getting in your greens when you make them more easily accessible. 🙂

Take your vitamins.

I know, I sound like your mother, but taking a good multi-vitamin can really make a difference in how you feel. I also recommend taking fish oil, too.

There are lots of other vitamins out there to consider taking, but do your research before you just start popping pills. Too much of a good thing can sometimes be just that — too much.

I used to be really, really bad about consistently taking vitamins. Then, I learned a trick: I had to make it part of my routine. Instead of just trying to remember to take my pills sometime during the day, I made pill-taking part of my evening routine.

Now, it’s become such a habit, that I pretty much can’t go to bed unless I’ve taken my pills. And I feel so much better as a result!

Drink lots of water.

Many, many of our physical ailments can be the result of just not drinking enough water. Headaches, constipation, weight gain, leg cramps, exhaustion, and much more can often be related to the fact that one is dehydrated. So before you spend a lot of money on products to help you with your physical problems, make sure you’re getting hydrated.

If you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, you might find it helpful to track your water intake either online or on your phone — or just on a notebook in your kitchen. You could also fill up a pitcher of water or two bit water bottles before you go to bed at night and then commit to drink all of it by the time you go to bed the next night. You could even set a timer to go off periodically throughout the day to remind you to drink water.

Or, you can do what I do and try to always have a glass of water nearby wherever you are. I’ve found that the physical presence of that glass of water encourages me to constantly be taking sips of it throughout the day. And before I know it, I’ve downed 8 or 10 glasses of water!

Exercise regularly.

If you’re already fatigued, it might seem counterintuitive for me to be suggesting you start exercising. However, instead of exhausting you, exercise can often actually increase your energy.

If you aren’t regularly exercising, set really small goals at first: such as jogging or walking for 10 minutes three times a week. Track your progress on a site like SparkPeople to help you stay motivated. Or, find an exercise accountability partner to exercise with you or to check up on you throughout the week to make sure you’re sticking with your plan.

For those who feel like exercising is such a boring and dull thing, may I encourage you to try some new things? Join an exercise class, try biking, or check out some exercise DVDs from the library. Keep experimenting with different things until you land on something you enjoy.

And if you’re Type A like me, find a way to multi-task so that it feels more productive. I’ve found that I’m much more likely to hop on the treadmill if I have a good book I’m reading during my warm-up walk and a good podcast or audiobook to listen to while I’m running.

…to be continued tomorrow.

What suggestions or tips do you have for simple things a busy woman can do to take care of her health? I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

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51 Comments

  • Denise says:

    I used SparkPeople for a month and LOVED it! I kinda fell off the wagon lately but plan to get back into it full swing in June after my week of vacation to visit family. (I don’t see much point in trying to keep up with it while I’m out of town!)

    I feel a lot better if I drink LOTS of water!

  • For increased veggie intake, I like to throw some spinach, kale, and a few fruits into a blender and enjoy a green smoothie. It’s so filling, if I make one for breakfast I only eat a small muffin (made with coconut flour) to round out my meal. Also good as a snack or pre-workout energy drink.

  • We are juicing with our new Breville Juicer, and we love it! I love how much nutrients we are getting just by drinking fresh juice. 🙂 Definitely a great way to care for our bodies and fight burnout…..of which I’ve been prone to lately having just moved to a new state while working from home and caring for 5 kids.

    Great tips, Crystal!

  • Thank you so much for this series of posts. I have been feeling exactly the way your reader has been. I often neglect taking care of myself, but that really doesn’t help anyone!

  • Lori in NC says:

    Turn off the TV! Don’t push yourself to stay up to watch TV after the kids go to bed. How much of that show do you even remember the next morning? And don’t you wish you had that extra hour of sleep instead? Feed your mind with a good book – that’s something you might think back on and learn from — not a sitcom or TV “drama.”

    • SMS says:

      One of THE most important things that should be here is getting enough quality sleep. I work nights so no this is not always possible, but sneak it in where you can. Exhausted moms need to be going to bed shortly after their children do. Nap time doesn’t mean clean the whole house. If baby sleeps one hour, you can at least rest/sleep for 30minutes. When Family/friends /grandparents come to visit offer them the opportunity to visit/play with the the kids and go sneak a nap. My mom always preferred this as the kids would spend more time with grandma and I wasn’t there to interfere ;). Nursing Moms – Dad can help with house when baby is being fed. After feeding~ it is Daddy’s turn to love them. Take a nap! Delegate/ask for help.
      Get a Sunday- Saturday pill counter like Grandma has. Pulling meds/vitamins out of a bottle once a week is much easier than daily. if you can’t remember if you took them or not it makes it simple to check.

  • Angel says:

    I know that I am going to catch a lot of flack for this, but I pritty much have done the same thing as you Crystal: Devotions, vitamins, exersize, healthy eating, and sleep. I couldn’t shake the depression, so I saw a doctor asked to be put on an antidepressent. It took a month to get used to it, but it has been such a blessing. I feel like my old self again. Have to admit it was a little humbling, but I didn’t want pride to stand in the way of being a mother my kids deserve. I definatly suggest trying all of the above first, but when all else fails don’t be afraid to seek a little help!

    • Crystal says:

      I don’t think you’re going to get any flack from anyone here for doing what you needed to to get well. In fact, I’m a big proponent of going to the doctor and getting bloodwork done, etc. — that’s why it was #2 in this series (see Part 1). 🙂

      In many cases, there are physical issues involved and it’s best to have things checked out by a medical professional — especially if you’re taking good care of yourself and still feeling fatigued, exhausted, depressed, etc.

      I’m so glad you’re feeling like your old self again! That’s such a good thing!

    • SMS says:

      Angel, There is NO flack for being responsible for your health. You did all the leg work to see if you could balance things out on your own. It didn’t work and you are intelligent enough to seek help. The medicine worked so it was obviously needed.
      People wouldn’t tell a Diabetic to not begin or to quit their meds. Mental health medication is no different. If using the meds makes you feel like your “Old self” then you are fortunate to have found the right med for the right illness. How much more can you bless your family when you care for yourself.

    • Wendy says:

      Good for you for taking charge of your health. There is no shame in getting medical help for a need. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for saying this. I think woman, especially woman who attend church are afraid to admit weaknesses. NEVER be afraid to ask for help. I was so afraid and my life never opened up until I asked. I needed help from a trained medical professional for an imbalance. Sometimes, a good talk with a friend or family member will carry us through. Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Their were periods when my kids were little that I could only accomplish taking care of them. That is more than enough.

  • Johnlyn says:

    I totally agree about exercising. It seems like it would make you more tired, but it helps so much with stress. I try to walk along the creek every day whether I feel like it or not.

    I have found that getting up before my family helps me tremendously. 5 minutes to myself (while drinking my coffee) makes a huge difference in my morning.

    I am one that cannot drink a lot of water or I feel extremely sick.

    • Kris says:

      I agree about the exercise! I found a neat way… after my son is in bed, we take the laptop downstairs with a Denise Austin 12 min cardio blast workout on youtube. It is funny to watch me and hubby sweat trying to keep up with her but its only 12 min. Sometimes I will do a 5 min abs workout after but in only 12-17min I feel great.

  • JoAnna says:

    One of the best things I did to help boost my energy was babysit. My youngest son (of 3) has severe food allergies, so I can’t leave him with anyone without fear. But a friend of mine with a daughter his age is a nicu nurse and someone I could trust him with. She works weekend nights and struggles with exhaustion. So we started trading off watching eachother’s child (they were 2 at the time) one day a week. That gave me a day to run all my errands alone (yes, alone). I could get everything done in one day, so I could spend the rest of the week at home, instead of trying to take him with me, which is always exhausting. I even found that I was able to get quite a bit done while her daughter was at my house because my son had a playmate to keep him busy.

    • I was a part of a mom’s club that set up a co-op group among the members in which you earned credits for babysitting to use for your own time. Thanks for the reminder to suggest this to my current MOPs group. Such a helpful idea, and free, too!

    • Jill says:

      JoAnna, that is a brilliant idea! I have 2 little kids and I dread going on errands with both of them. I have many friends who I think would be open to this idea…I’m going to try this!! Thanks!

  • Bona says:

    Meditation really helps me to recharge. There are many free lessons on the internet to learn how to do this. It’s difficult at first but keep at it even if you don’t think you can do it. Your body and mind will thank you.

    http://www.freemenitation.com is a good one.

  • Han says:

    It’s much harder to feel bumbed out when you’re dancing! Sometimes when I start getting burnt out on studying I take a dance break, silly I know, but it does help:) it can even be exercise if you really get into it! Haha. Also if you are so busy you have a tough time fitting in exercise, you can try fitting it into your regular day sometimes. I like to do jumping jacks while I wait for the microwave.

  • Dona says:

    Water tip! I found that I drink lots, but only when my water is nice and cold! A relative gave me an LL beam insulated water bottle and it is AWESOME… Truly made a difference in how much water I drink. Really keeps my water ice cold… Even when sitting in a hot car for a few hours. The insulation in this jug is amazing!!’so if you like ice cold water spend the money on a well insulated water bottle;)

    • Dona says:

      Should also mention that my kids discovered how much they liked my ice cold water… They were drinking more as well so we bought them their own insulates jugs;)

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks so much for this tip!

    • Patti says:

      That’s funny – I found out I drink more water if it is room temperature. I had always kept it in the refrigerator and never liked it much unless I “doctored” it up until I began just using fresh tap water. I guess it goes back to my childhood when we drank from the outside water hose… who knows?

  • Jessica says:

    I would add to go to your doctor for an annual wellness visit. This should include a pelvic exam, breast exam, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure checks, weight check and other risk-based health assessments based on your age, ethnicity and such.

    • Stephanie says:

      Absolutely! At my annual physical I mentioned to my doctor that I had had multiple colds and a nagging cough that would not go away all winter so she did some digging- several specialists, multiple tests, CT scan and two surgeries later it turns out I have very real lung issues that may or may not improve with treatment. If you are not feeling better from self care then see a health professional just to be sure nothing major is going on.

  • Hilary says:

    Vitamin D. Have your doctor check your vitamin D. I was Sooo physically exhausted that I didn’t want to even move most days, my body hurt and I just plain felt miserable. My vitamin D was so low that it had actually started to weaken bones. I now take vitamin d once a week and it has made a tremendous difference. I also learned I was dehydrated.

  • Dee Wolters says:

    I totally agree with taking vitamins at night. I started taking daily meds at night when I was pregnant and soooo sick in the mornings that if I could swallow my prenatal vitamin, it would come back up, yuck!! So I started taking them at night when my stomach was a bit more settled. 20 years later, I still take meds at night. Works well and I rarely forget.

    Sleep- when my kids were little, I would nap when they napped. I would turn the phone off and hang a sign on the door so no one would ring the door bell. Then I would go to sleep. It made all the difference in making it through the rest of the day strong. Now that my kids are older, I still try to rest in the afternoon, read a bit and lay in my bed.

    And don’t forget regular check ups at the Dr for mom. We often get so busy taking the little ones for well and sick dr visits, that we neglect our own health. Schedule your yearly physical with the Dr to make sure there is nothing medically wrong.

    • Allison Voges says:

      I didn’t get sick with my pregnancies, but for some reason #3 did the same thing to me, I had to take my vitamins at night instead of with my breakfast. Whatever it is, it worked!

  • Lisa says:

    Great article! When I start to feel burnout I make sleep and eating well my two top priorities. I’ve found that adding a little lemon or lime to my water helps me drink more.
    I’ve also recently read that exercise can boost the immune system so I’ve been making a habit on those days where I’m feeling drained to get out and exercise instead of skipping a session (though I take it down a notch on those days rather than push too hard).

  • Jessica H says:

    I have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I have mostly recovered, but still struggle some especially if I don’t take care of myself. Some of the best advice to increase my energy was from a naturopath. He suggested drinking more water, eating more raw fruits and veggies, and going to bed at nine o’clock. When I consistently go to bed at nine, I find I have more energy and need less sleep. He said each hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice as much as the sleep after midnight, because certain hormones are available then to repair your body. This has helped me greatly!

    • Crystal Pfister says:

      Have you also looked into systemic enzymes? My mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and after speaking with counselors, dr.s, etc, she gave it a shot and seems to be doing a lot better with pain. It decreases the scarring in your joint tissue.

  • AmyP says:

    My advice is have your hormone levels and blood checked. I had struggled with insomnia and feelings of anxiety for several years. My doctor wanted to get a saliva test and after procrastinating a bit I finally did. I had three levels low, but most significantly low was my progesterone. Since starting Prometrium (progesterone supplement) at night my insomnia and anxiety have completely resolved. It is an amazing difference. I am a homeschooling mom of four and after sleeping soundly for several months now I realize how torturous it was when I wasn’t able to. I understand now why Robin McGraw ‘campaigns’ about this issue. I also had low thyroid and low iron so after addressing these also my energy levels are as good as they’ve been in 15 years. Super yay! I am even on week 6 of the Couchto5K training. Soli Deo Gloria!

    • Sara says:

      If you have chronic insomnia, in addition to hormone profiles, get tested for allergies (environmental and food). I struggled for 5 years, getting 4-6 hours a night unless I was on a prescription sleeping pill- then it was a drugged 12. I didn’t want to stay on pills forever, so I weaned off and renewed my efforts to figure out the imbalance. (I had previously tried everything to solve my insomnia. I won’t go into details, but I can honestly say that no one has ever offered a suggestion that I hadn’t already tried. Every.Thing.) I found allergies to pollen, mold, cats, dustmites, etc, and opted to begin allergy shots. My doctor was convinced that they wouldn’t help my insomnia. In fact, he wouldn’t even consider the possibilty. Six weeks into the allergy shots, and I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep without any chemical or herbal aid.

  • I love using runkeeper.com. It’s free and it’s not just for running, you can record swimming, biking and lots of other things on there too.

  • Crystal Pfister says:

    To keep your metabolism going, try to eat 2 snacks each day that is a good protien such as a hard boiled egg. There are days when time gets away from me and to help I have a bag of unsalted nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.) in my purse, desk, & son’s diaper bag. Just 1 palm full will keep my metabolism going and give me good fats with protien. From making sure you hit your meals and snacks, your body can function at optimal efficiency, especially during workouts. Bake 1 bag of chicken 1x a wk while cooking other meals & keep stored in ziplock bag for your snacks or night meals.
    Water is big! One person might find themselves drinking more water from bottles, whereas others find cups with ice. Finding which works best will ensure proper water intake.
    For parents that seem to skip lunch or dinner, try to keep a meal replacement bar at hand or meal replacement shake. I use AdvoCare, which is reccomended by Dr. Oz for those gaps because of the low sugar/sugar free, high protien levels, and phmaceutical grade prodcuts.
    People might not like this, but try to stay away from coffee. It might give you that perk you were looking for, yet it takes 2 gallons of water to make up for the effects of 1 cup of coffee. Your body crashes mid day due to a lack of vit B and oxygen in the blood.

  • Ann says:

    I am a work-at-home Mom to three. One thing I do is something simple that a friend suggested after my oldest daughter was born – paint your toenails. It really only takes a couple of minutes each week, or every other week. But when I am running around like a crazy woman and see those pretty polished toes, it makes me feel very pampered.

  • Chrissy says:

    I like the tip on the salad. I am not a big salad eater but for few weeks I felt like the Lord had impressed upon me to eat more salads, raw type things, and walk daily. I am trying to apply this.

    Thanks Crystal so much for doing this!!!

  • Deb says:

    Drinking more water sure helps me a lot, but exercise is my secret productivity weapon! I don’t really like to exercise, but I need less sleep and am SO much more productive when I exercise regularly.

  • Jen says:

    Great suggestion about keeping a glass of water on hand. I use one of those re-usable cups with a straw (mine is from Starbucks) and I find that I drink more water because of the straw. Maybe less effort than actually picking up the glass?? Also, it’s easy for me to bring in the car or put in the stroller cup holder.

    I need to learn to take the following advice: When I’m done with a chore such has washing the floor or picking up the clutter, take a minute or two to sit and enjoy the clean view …. before the kids come back in the room and it’s all over!

  • Janice says:

    I think this post on utahdealdiva.com went right along with this. Enjoy!
    http://www.utahdealdiva.com/2012/05/rules-for-survival-for-moms.html

  • Wow… I love this series. Going through pre-menopausal symptoms from migraines, back and leg aches, depression, anxiety…. the list goes on, I found that exercise, good nutrition and hormone medication (progesterone) has helped me out tremendously. I am going to blog about my “health” journey in hopes of inspiring other moms to get well and feel better. Sleep is so important so I turn the TV off –> this is really hard for me but I need to do it.

    Putting my computer in the basement office has been life changing too. Separating my life (work and family) helps me devote all my time to one thing at a time.

    Thank you Crystal for all you ideas and inspiration.

  • Kim says:

    I always try to take a glass or bottle of water when I’m going to run errands, going to church or a meeting, etc. I used to buy a lot of bottled water, but to be more frugal, now take a glass if it’s going to stay in the car. Does anyone have any tips on saving $$ on vitamins? They’re not in my budget & there’s no wiggle room.

  • Donna says:

    The thing that is the MOST therapeutic for me is exercise- but it is the hardest to work into my day!

    The 2nd most helpful thing- is trying new things! You’re helping me much with this with the freezer filling 😉

  • Lana says:

    A good rule of thumb for the amount of water you need to drink each day is this: divide your weight by 2 and drink that many ounces plus 2 ounces for every ounce of caffeinne you comsume.

    If you are having trouble sleeping consider whether you are being affected by electromagnetic fields. We removed our cell phones from our bedroom and shut off the router that was right under our bedroom floor downstairs and now I sleep very well. Turn off computers that are in the bedroom also. A friend had computers in her bedroom and felt dizzy at night but after turning them off at night she is fine.

  • Anna says:

    I was wondering if anyone has tips about how to remember taking pills multiple times a day? Between my multi-vitamin, doctor prescribed supplements, and thyroid medicine I should be popping pills several times a day for each one to work most effectively. There are too many evenings that I realize I’ve missed 1 or 2 times during the day.

  • Patti says:

    I found out I have sleep apnea… never knew it because I never had to take naps during the day or anything like that. But I started waking up with headaches and I knew I was breathing through my mouth so I went to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who had me tested. Turns out I was waking up like every 20 seconds all night long. Once I started sleeping with the mask, which I love (unlike most people) I cannot tell you how great the sleep is! I put it on, konk out, and don’t wake up until at least 8 hours later. It is the best sleep ever!!!

  • Amber says:

    Water, water, water—I can’t stress it enough! After having a kidney stone and an infection that began to spread to my whole body (I was hospitalized for nearly a week), I found out that the whole thing might have been prevented if I had just been more diligent with drinking water. But I get so tired of plain water, so I sometimes add lime slices, cucumber slices, or drink iced tea. I also got a Camelbak water bottle with a bite valve, which is spill-proof and can be used with one hand (no lid to open). If it’s near me everywhere I go, I’m more likely to sip throughout the day.

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