Motherhood is hard. Whether you're on your first or eighth child, you can relate to the struggles of raising children. Of course, there are many beautiful and special moments that make being a mother completely worth it. However, even when we do our best on our most trying parenting days, sometimes the only solution to not lose it altogether is taking a break.
When you're a busy mother, it might not seem possible to practice self-care. Prioritizing your mental health is just as, if not more important than being a supermom 24/7. At the end of the day, all mothers want what's best for their children... and sometimes taking a break can be the most selfless, responsible thing to do for your kids' overall wellbeing. Here are 10 signs that you need a break from motherhood.
10 If You're Always on Edge
Children are definitely not masters of self-regulating their feelings. With hot emotions screeching out of your kids, at any given moment regardless if it's at home or out in public, it makes sense why moms sometimes feel on edge.
Being in a constant "fight or flight" response, which is your hypothalamus (in your brain) activating your sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system using the bloodstream can have severe repercussions on your brain and body. It's hard to stay patient and level-headed when making parenting decisions when your biological responses yell "this is too much!" To stop being on edge, take a break, and hopefully, that means relaxing without the being present.
9 If You're Always Angry
Another sign of a mom needing a break is if she is always angry. Expressing anger can actually be a healthy way of communicating negative feelings (better to get it out than keep it in) or it can motivate you to solve a problem. However, how anger is shown, especially if it's a chronically occurring issue, can be a clear sign of other underlying issues.
Understandably, since motherhood is a never-ending set of responsibilities, you can be totally exhausted. As burn out starts to become apparent, a mom can feel tension towards her children and family members. Constant anger can be concerning because it can affect your heart rate, increase blood pressure, and cause other mental and physiological issues.
8 If You're Burnt Out
Being a mother, chances are, you have experienced sleep deprivation especially when your child was in the newborn stage. When you're burnt out, you'll have physical, emotional, and mental health symptoms. These symptoms could be insomnia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, impaired concentration and attention, and increased illness. Burnout is chronic stress on the body which can quickly lead to cynicism and detachment.
Many mothers have probably experienced a form of burn out yet pushed through it because they felt like they had no other choice. Burn out should be taken seriously because it can quickly affect the relationship to your children and the quality of the care you are able to provide.
7 If You're Always Irritable
Irritability is another symptom of your body being under stress. Of course, stress can sometimes help moms rise to the occasion of meeting expectations and improved productivity. Acute stress is generally short term, with an increase in blood pressure and heart rate but not enough to create a profound negative consequence on the brain and body. Episodic and chronic stress to the body, which is whenever stress happens daily and over a long period of time, can create physiological symptoms (so no, it's not all in your head.)
Symptoms of chronic stress include low energy, headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, etc. Being under chronic or episodic stress can also reduce immunity needed to fight colds and cases of flu. Irritability and agitation can reveal a more serious issue. It's important to rule out physiological causes and seek professional counseling so you can manage and cope with what's stressing you out.
6 If You're Depressed
Depression and motherhood can still be taboo. When we hear of a mother experiencing depression, it's difficult not to jump to the conclusion that she suffers from Postpartum Depression. Different from "the baby blues," PPD is when a mother suffers depression after giving birth that is thought to be caused hormonal changes, recovery from giving birth, psychological adjustments to motherhood, and fatigue. Baby blues only lasts a brief period where PPD's duration can last months to years.
But what if the depression didn't arise shortly after a woman gave birth, yet years later? Although depression can be caused by chemical changes in the brain, many mothers suffer from it for a variety of reasons such as loss-of-self, isolation, and low self-esteem. If you are feeling depressed, especially being a mother, it is important to address your symptoms before they progress to be worse. There is nothing to be ashamed of for being productive towards your mental wellbeing.
5 If You're Lonely
Many mothers can relate to the feeling of being lonely. You might feel this way at home alone with your kids or late at night when you're nursing and everyone else is sleeping. Since you're expected to enjoy every part of being a mother, that can make the isolation feel worse. When we don't feel that way, we feel different from other moms, which can make us withdraw from those we love.
This could be a cry for connection, a need for reassurance, relatability, or to be valued as a person rather than just looked at as a mother. Sometimes loneliness can convince you that "no one has time for you" or that you are "selfish" for wanting attention. A break away from motherhood spent with a spouse or your friends can be a great reminder that you aren't alone.
4 If You Personalize Everything
When we are low or run down, cognitive distortions like personalizing comments from others or struggling to do minimal tasks can be overwhelming. Personalization is when your mind convinces you that your negative thoughts are real, even when they aren't true. These thoughts emphasize emotions and destructive behaviors that can lead you into a downward spiral of inability to cope with even minimal stressors.
Since motherly duties can quickly feel monotonous, it can be too easy to lose the joy in moments or activities once deeply valued. You might question if there's something wrong with you which would start the vicious cycle. If you break away from the daily repetition, this is a good distraction to stay out of your head and away from these untrue thoughts.
3 If You're Feeling Inadequate
Mothers take on a lot during the day. You provide structure and wholeness to your family unit, you tend to chores, schedule and go to appointments, have a career, your relationship, etc. We can all relate to feeling way in over our heads.
With so many tasks on our to-do list, whether it's caused by mom-guilt or not, we can feel inadequate. Sometimes our head work goes unnoticed. It can be helpful to step away from your duties, to practice self-care activities or do something fun, so when you come back to it your confidence has been restored. You are superwoman, after all!
2 If You Feel Numb Or Disconnected
Feeling disconnected or emotionally numb can be a concerning symptom of depression and stress. When a mother feels invisible and like she has lost herself, this can hinder her ability to communicate how she's feeling. She may withdraw from close family and friends, perhaps out of shame or being fearful of judgment that she is struggling emotionally and mentally. Without proper treatment, this could escalate into suicidal thoughts or attempts.
If you are feeling this way, it is important to open up to a loved one. Sometimes the mind can convince you of worst-case scenarios about asking for help, but the ones who truly care and love you will never judge. Your children need YOU as their mom, and you deserve to get the help you need to feel heard and happy again.
1 If You're Feeling Defeated
There are many instances that could cause a mother to feel defeated. It could have to do with struggling to breastfeed, if her child is sick, if she is trying to manage her child's behavior, or she feels past the point of being overwhelmed.
Since feeling defeated can happen often, it is helpful to get into a healthy coping habit whenever this feeling occurs. Practicing self-care or doing something you enjoy/are good at can be used as a great coping skill when you start feeling low. Jobs require employees to take breaks throughout the day to produce productivity. Since motherhood is one of the most important and time-consuming jobs there is, why shouldn't you take a break too? After all, if you are recharged, it just means that you'll do the job of being a mother more efficiently. It's a win for everyone involved.