Fighting Family Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis
Community Psychiatry’s Pavan Madan, M.D. was featured in Healthline discussing how to handle Family Burnout.
Fighting Family Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis
- After 3 months of COVID-19 togetherness, families across the nation are experiencing symptoms of family burnout.
- The pressures on single parents are especially high.
- Marriages are also suffering, with inescapable togetherness highlighting the fractures in relationships and leading to an increase in petitions for divorce in other countries.
- Parents should be focusing on encouragement and positive reinforcement for children who are acting out and regressing.
- Mental health services are perhaps more accessible than ever before for those who may need additional help.
After several months of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many households are beginning to experience family burnout from spending so much time together.
Now that schools are out for the summer and millions of Americans are currently unemployed, partners, parents, and children who are together 24-7 may soon feel even more desperate for a few moments alone and a return to their pre-COVID-19 routines.
But the current rise in cases and the delay of reopening plans in several states may signal that families will need to remain together at home even longer than they realized.
However, households that are feeling togetherness fatigue can take steps to alleviate family burnout and ease the strain on their relationships.
How do you know if you’re experiencing family burnout resulting from COVID-19 togetherness?
Dr. Pavan Madan is a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, the largest outpatient mental health organization in California. He explained there are three main symptoms to look out for. They are:
- feeling physically or emotionally exhausted
- not being able to handle usual tasks
- feeling annoyed easily
These are symptoms a large number of people may be feeling right now, with exhaustion being reported across the internet. Also, despite the fact that people are home and seemingly have all the time in the world on their hands, this inexplicable fatigue is becoming a common phenomenon.
In fact, Madan said, “Although no clear data is available, a 2018 survey found that half of all parents experience burnout — and this was prior to the pandemic.”
Given the heightened rates of family togetherness now, it stands to reason those numbers are much higher, especially for single parents.
It’s not just parents and adults — kids can experience family burnout as well
It’s important to remember that amidst all this, adults aren’t the only ones experiencing burnout.
“Burnout in children often presents as anxiety, being irritable, poor academic performance, or staying isolated from peers and not expressing interest in playing,” Madan said.
A recent survey in Italy found that children are experiencing psychological impacts as a result of lockdown. They’re more irritable, having trouble sleeping, and many are regressing developmentally.
“Compared to younger children, teenagers may be more likely to experience burnout due to higher academic workload, greater need for peer interaction, and more frequent conflicts with parents,” Madan said.
How to reduce the impact of burnout in your household
But just because so many are experiencing burnout doesn’t mean it can’t be helped.
“Burnout can be prevented by having a better balance between family time versus me time,” Madan said.
When dealing with kids who may be acting out as a result of lockdown stress, he suggests parents try using encouragement and positive reinforcement over punishment techniques.
This gentler approach may be best for helping to redirect kids while also honoring the life struggles we’re all facing right now.
“Having a routine for sleep, meals, and study time can help children feel prepared for the next activity and avoid some conflicts,” Madan explained.
How can parents manage their own feelings of burnout?
“Parents must consider stress management techniques at work and aim towards a better work-life balance,” Madan said.
Knowing when to ask for help
It’s important to recognize there’s a difference between having a slightly shorter fuse and feeling like you’re actually on the edge of combusting.
“When burnout symptoms are moderate to severe, consider getting professional consultation with family therapy, individual therapist, or psychiatrist depending on the situation,” Madan said.
While it may seem as though COVID-19 has made seeking mental health help more difficult, that’s simply not the case. In fact, it may currently be easier to get that help than ever before, as many insurance companies have removed deductibles and copays for telehealth appointments.
“Parenting is not easy and burnout is fairly common,” Madan explained. “I advise parents to take care of themselves not only for their own well-being, but also to model good behavior for their children to emulate now and for the years to come, even when we are back to ‘normal.’”
Click here to read the entire article on Healthline.