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Advice & Guides
Mental Health

Parental Burnout: What It Is and How to Overcome It

Parenting is one of life's most rewarding experiences, but it can also be particularly demanding. In fact, as caregivers navigate the responsibilities of bringing up children, they may sometimes be confronted with parental burnout. In this article, we'll explore some common parental burnout symptoms and go over practical strategies for successfully overcoming it. Whether you're a parent, foster parent or caregiver, understanding parental burnout is critical for not only maintaining personal well-being, but providing the best possible care for your kids.
What Is Parental Burnout?

Found on the continuum between depression and stress, parental burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that is often experienced by caregivers. It a scientifically recognised condition, and is a result of chronic stress and overwhelming parenting responsibilities.

Parental Burnout Symptoms

Parental burnout often manifests as a sense of emotional depletion, but there are other signs to look out for as well. Some common symptoms of parental burnout include:

  • Persistent feelings of exhaustion, even after restful sleep
  • Increased irritability or impatience with children and others
  • Emotional detachment or numbness towards parenting responsibilities
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions related to parenting
  • Physical symptoms including headaches, muscle tension and gastrointestinal problems
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Support and Resources

If you’re experiencing symptoms of parental burnout, it’s essential to seek support as quickly as possible and access resources to help you navigate the inevitable challenges. Here are some helpful steps you can take:

Parental Burnout NHS Guidance

According to the NHS, self-care is important to prevent parental burnout. This is why — prior to pursuing any medical intervention — it is advisable to seek to minimise stress. You can do this by:

  • Practising self-help techniques like mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Embracing the power of positive thinking by making daily lists of things you're grateful for
  • Breaking down complex tasks into easier, more manageable pieces
  • Becoming more active by taking up swimming, cycling or another form of exercise
  • Planning ahead when stressful events are on the horizon
  • Talking to family and friends about your struggles

Other Ways to Manage Burnout

If the steps above fail to make a significant impact, there is also help available if needed.

  1. Reach out to your healthcare provider or mental health professional for assessment and guidance.
  2. Explore support groups and online resources that specifically address parental burnout.
  3. Consider respite foster care services to provide temporary relief and support.
  4. Work together with your partner or co-parent and communicate openly about your needs and feelings.
Remember You Are Not Alone

Parental burnout is a common and understandable condition experienced by caregivers, but it’s essential to recognise its symptoms and be willing to ask for help if needed. By understanding its underlying causes, accessing resources, and above all prioritising self-care, caregivers can overcome burnout whilst remaining supportive and nurturing to children.

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