Burnout is a huge epidemic among women and there are good reasons why.
We think we have to do all.the.things. and we don’t stop to consider the consequences of our actions. We are sometimes expected by others to do all of our stuff and some of theirs which also leads to burnout.
In this episode of Feel Amazing Naked, Sarah Argenal and I help you learn how to overcome burnout and stop the feeling of wanting to escape your life. Stay tuned!
It’s no accident that this episode is being released right smack in the middle of holiday prep.
I am just like you; I want to say yes to all the things but guess what? I can’t and neither can you.
And I’ve learned through the years that if I try to attempt all the things, I won’t be fully present with my family and I won’t enjoy the holidays.
Help for Holiday Overwhelm
That’s why, in addition to this episode, I also want to help you Feel Amazing Naked throughout the holiday season by taking care of yourself in ways that make you feel confident, strong, and not overwhelmed.
We want to continue to move forward during the holidays. One of the things that makes us feel overwhelmed or burned out is leaving behind all of the healthy eating patterns we’ve established and just flat out binging during the holidays.
So, if you are ready to take on the holidays and come out on the other side 2 steps forward instead of 3 steps back, I’d love to have you join my Holiday Healthy Swaps Challenge, which kicks off November 18, 2019.
This is a 5-day challenge that will provide you with some easy tweaks and swaps that will get you through the holidays and to the other side feeling great about your food choices. This challenge will help you navigate social eating situations and ways to better take care of yourself.
Now, onto my conversation with Sarah!
Sarah Argenal is on a mission to eradicate the burnout epidemic that’s crushing working parents so they can finally enjoy these precious years of their lives.
She’s the founder of The Argenal Institute, host of the popular Working Parent Resource Podcast, and creator of the Whole SELF Lifestyle™, a framework that addresses the logistical and psychological challenges of working parenthood. Sarah lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two sons.
How Hard Can a Baby Be?
After a very successful career, Sarah figured, how hard could it be to add a baby to the mix?
She enjoyed her maternity leave to the fullest, spending every moment with her baby for 4-5 months. She truly left work behind and dove into motherhood 100%.
And then she went back to work.
It was only about 2 months in that Sarah had what she calls a “complete meltdown.” She began wondering how she could keep up the pace, why it was so hard, and how in the world she was supposed to maintain the way of life she was now facing each day.
Her own struggles led Sarah to research the whole work/life balance issue and if there really was a way to mesh your career with being a mom and wife.
Was there a way to be fully engaged in both without losing your ever-loving mind?
All of the resources she could find said that it was not possible; a parent had to choose between focusing on a career or focusing on a family.
But Sarah wasn’t buying it. She wanted both. She had spent 20 years building an amazing career that she loved, and she didn’t want to give it up. But she also had a son that she loved and wanted to be fully engaged with, and a husband she wanted to spend time with.
Resources for Working Parents
As Sarah began looking for resources to help her figure it all out, she was faced with the fact that there weren’t any. At least not exactly what she needed.
So she decided to dig deeper and find the best resources she could find for working parents and she began sharing them on a one-page website. She was providing for others what she needed and couldn’t find.
And thus, the Argenal Institute was born, with the goal of eradicating working parent burnout. Not decreasing it, not providing ideas for a one-week respite.
No, Sarah’s ideas were for completely eradicating burnout, not just easing it.
Are You a People Pleaser?
One of the surest ways to hit burnout is to try to please others all the time.
We each have a unique capacity for what we are able to handle, so while I might feel comfortable carrying a full platter, you might only be comfortable carrying a salad plate.
The problem comes when we begin to compare what we can handle with what others can handle, but also with what others expect us to handle. Living our lives to please others leads to burnout when we realize that we can’t meet all of the expectations placed upon us by others.
What you need to remember is that you don’t have to!
You don’t have to run the festival just because the PTA president asks you to. You don’t have to be the only parent doing carpool. You don’t have to be the one that everybody depends on and calls whenever there is a need.
You can say no without guilt.
How to Ditch the Guilt
Getting rid of guilt is the reason Sarah started the Whole SELF Lifestyle program. The program is both a philosophy: working from the inside out, and a lifestyle: it isn’t a one-day fix but a lifestyle.
The only way to deal with the guilt you feel is to figure out what exactly makes you feel guilty.
We don’t all react to the same things, so what might feel totally doable to you might send me reeling into complete overwhelm. Sarah stresses the necessity of self-awareness when deciding what your lifestyle will look like.
Don’t just let life happen to you. Make decisions for your life that are sustainable for you. Own those decisions. Owning your decisions is the key to shedding any guilt you feel for others not understanding why you do what you do, (or don’t do) and to eradicating burnout in your life.
How to Become More Self-Aware
If self-awareness is crucial to overcoming burnout, we need to get better at being self-aware. I know it doesn’t come naturally for most of us, so I asked Sarah for some tips on how to increase our self-awareness.
Sarah’s Whole SELF Lifestyle is based on the acronym S.E.L.F.
S – Identify Your Systems.
We have many various systems that we use to run our lives. We have marriage systems, parenting systems, household systems, career systems. We have a system for our own health and wellness.
The problem is that we see these systems as standing individually when they are actually an entire ecosystem.
When we feel stressed, we try to make changes in one of the systems, not realizing that we can’t make true and lasting change unless we touch the whole system.
You have to realize that your work is impacting your marriage, and your marriage is impacting your parenting, and your parenting is impacting your health and wellness, and your health and wellness are impacting your household management.
We try to compartmentalize our lives and pretend like we can do whatever we want without it affecting our lives as a whole. And that’s why you can lose weight but not feel fulfilled. Because you’re only touching one system.
So, the first step is to understand your overall ecosystem.
E – Evaluate Your Systems.
Once you know what your systems are, you can take some time to figure out which of the current systems are working for you and which ones are not.
This is still not the step where you’re making changes or trying to fix what’s broken. You are simply taking the time to evaluate the systems you identified in the first step. Figuring out which ones are working and which aren’t.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Which of my systems energizes me?
- Which ones deplete me?
- Which systems make me feel great about myself?
- Which ones make me feel like a failure?
Maybe your system for work is going well but you can see that it is still impacting your marriage system in a negative way. Start to evaluate how each system is working and how they are impacting each other.
What you may find is that you are doing really well in most areas but one or two things are throwing the rest out of whack.
This evaluation shows you the overall picture of how your systems are working together…or not.
L – List Your Solutions.
Once you get a clear picture of where the breakdown is, you can begin to research solutions, whether that’s talking to friends, listening to podcasts, or reading articles.
This is the time to begin making a list of action steps that you can take to address the weaknesses in your systems. You are zeroing in on the specific systems that need work.
The time for evaluation is past; it’s time to make a plan.
Start with the first thing you identified as not working and come up with a list of solutions for that system and then move on to the next.
You aren’t solving your problems yet, but you are coming up with the list of solutions that you will use in the next step to finally make the changes your systems need in order to serve you and your life better.
F – Familiarize Yourself with a Solution.
Finally, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and try your solutions!
Take one of the solutions you wrote on your list and try it. See what happens. Maybe your child isn’t sleeping and you decide to try a specific method of sleep-training. If it doesn’t work, fine.
Set that aside and let go of any guilt over not using that system. You now know that it doesn’t work for you, so you don’t need to think about it anymore. Try something else and see if you can find the best solution for the issue.
The Whole SELF Lifestyle allows you to customize solutions for the problems you face in your everyday life rather than providing solutions that work for others but may not work for you.
Once you find the solutions that work, decide how you will make that solution a habit or how you will integrate it into your routine.
Why the Experts Aren’t Helping You
There is so much information out there for solving our problems; so many websites, books, podcasts, and on and on. So why are we still struggling so much with daily stuff?
It’s simple really. The experts aren’t us.
Nobody else knows your life and your needs like you do. You are unique and you have a unique set of issues that require problem-solving.
The only person who can actually figure out the solutions to your problems is you!
Sarah’s Whole SELF Lifestyle teaches you how to self-evaluate where your systems are failing and what steps to take to make corrections.
Others may be able to help you see where things aren’t working but only you can decide what will fix the issues.
Others can provide advice and suggestions, but you have to try things to see if they work for you. Until you open yourself up to answering the deeper questions, you will continue to struggle.
Stop putting band-aids on open wounds. Find real solutions for the things that trip you up every day. Yes, it can be hard and scary and even a bit messy.
But the work is always worth it.
There may be many layers of this onion that you have to peel back before you get to all the root causes. If you don’t know where to start, I am here to help.
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