Sometimes, life feels like a heavy-laden ship in a storm, teetering on the edge of capsizing. There is too much cargo, too many demands, and the constant pressure of holding it all together can lead to what I call ‘functional burnout’. In this episode, I reveal my personal experiences and strategies for combating this overwhelming state.
We’ll explore different facets of managing functional burnout — physically, spiritually, and mentally. The focus is not on the feeling of overwhelm, but on how to identify the signs, reduce the pressure, and find relief even in turbulent seas, and ensuring that your boat—your life—doesn’t sink under the weight of burnout. Let’s navigate these waters together.
This Episode is For You If:
- You’re feeling overwhelmed by life’s demands
- You’re struggling to balance multiple responsibilities
- You feel the want to run away from your responsibilities
- You’re looking for strategies to identify signs of burnout, reduce pressure, and find relief
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Listen to the Full Episode:
Welcome to the Mom On Purpose Podcast. I’m Lara Johnson and I’m here to teach you how to get out of your funk, be in a better mood, and play more with your kids. Manage your home better. Get your to-do list done and live your life on purpose with my proven method. This is possible for you, and I’ll show you how. You’re not alone anymore. We’re in this together. Hello. Welcome to the Mom On Purpose podcast. It is. So good to talk to you today. I have been not thinking about this episode at all because I feel like we have been in survival mode over the last little bit with some family dynamic shifts and some emergencies and all kinds of things that have been going on and so as I finally sat down to really think about this episode, what I was realizing was that the demands of life feel like too much and more than anything, I have a strong desire to run away. So, you’ll know this episode is for you if you also have had that urge to run away from the demands of life. And I’m just going to leave it at that because this is a common thing you see in a lot of moms. And what I want to present is that this is just a symptom. This is a symptom that you are in. What I like to call functional burnout. And I always know for me when I’ve moved into that functional burnout, where I don’t need to go to a hospital per se, like I’m still functioning, like kids are still being well cared for. You know, my hygiene might include not showering as often, but showers are still happening. You know, my hair might not look totally done, but it is getting washed sometimes. Okay. And so, I want you just to think about that term as like. functional burnout, where the symptom that starts to come up is when you start feeling so overwhelmed that you start daydreaming about leaving the life that you have, even though you love it, or you do have that intense desire to run away from it and to hide out and you just wish that the world would stop for two seconds so that you can catch your breath. And I will say that this is something like that. I’ve yet to meet a mom that has never experienced this at some point and it really It comes head-to-head with the hard work ethic that so many of us have, that you push through, you keep going, you hustle, and no matter what, you don’t stop. And I know for myself that I’ve hit this point many times. It’s getting longer between the times that I hit it, but typically it happens about twice a year. I feel like I’ve been in this for like three years. And that’s very rare. And so, I’ve been doing a lot of my own personal work trying to figure out, you know, what internally is going on. You know, there’s been a lot of stress with babies and health and job changes. And so, there’s been a lot of big life changes, but I also want to make sure that I’m really setting myself up for success. You know, I keep a coach at this point. I do take medication after, you know, postpartum, I’m very prone to postpartum depression and anxiety. We talked about perinatal mental health in a couple episodes. Well, I guess it’s been a few months ago. And so, we have a lot of these tools in order to set ourselves up. I will always keep a coach personally because I choose to, but that has also been a therapist in the past. For me, I know that’s something that I’ve always wanted for my personal life. And there are times where, you know, business coaches have come and gone, you know, if you do work or, you know, have a career coach or something like that. But for me in my own personal life, I know that given my life circumstances, there’s a lot that I need help with managing. So, what I want to share today is not a session that I’ve had with my coach, but I’m very aware of it because I do have a coach and that is where my scale is, where my tipping scale is into this functional burnout. And I want to share just a tool that I’ve been using over the past little while as I’ve been making some life decisions in hopes that it can help you make some decisions as well so that you can start working towards getting out of burnout and not going deeper in it. So, the first thing that I want to just present is that I always am very onto my symptoms. You know, when I feel like I know for myself, when I feel like there’s a hundred-pound weight inside of my bones, where it’s like this level of fatigue, you know, I’ve gone through well and physically there’s symptoms. And so, for me, physically, this is usually when I get blood work done to check and make sure I’m not. And I’ve just been going through that process for myself. Then there’s another part where there’s like the spiritual side where I’m looking at, am I taking on a lot of unhealthy hormones? Culture. Spiritually like there are the commandments and the spirit of the law, you know, that higher law that I believe Christ gives us. But then sometimes there, we can take it a step further, like trying to be so strict to those commandments that we’re trying to reach absolute obedience, perfection, and it becomes this unhealthy obsession. So spiritually I always check in with that. You know, am I carrying some. Unnecessary guilt or shame or not trusting in the Savior as much as I could. And am I, you know, walking the path on my own more than leaning on that trust? So that’s the second area that I kind of look at is the spiritual side. But then there’s also, I guess there’s two other areas and this is where I’m. at. You know, I’ve kind of been going through those past two, but the next two are looking at things from a physical standpoint and also from circumstantial, I’d say physical and circumstantial. We’ll put those together. But then there’s also like the mental side of things and that’s, you know, the coaching and making sure my thoughts are working for me and processing emotions and I’ve really been. spending time there, you know, meditation and reevaluating some of my values and priorities based on the circumstances and physical aspect of things. And so that’s where I want to spend some time is going more into that physical side for this episode. And we could talk more about it probably in another episode, like the mental, emotional side of things in the coaching. So, when I’m looking at the physical side, it’s like I take everything out, circumstance wise, and I lay it on a platter just to kind of take an inventory of what my life is demanding. Now I find that This has to happen, you know, about once a year where I really take a look at these things. As I mentioned, this has been ongoing for a couple years for us. And so, I’ve had to do this over and then, you know, during pregnancy it looks different and having a new baby looks different and now my baby’s getting a little older and we had some challenges with my autistic kids. And so, I just feel like there’s a lot that is going on and As I’ve looked at, okay, well, where am I going to go from here? Because clearly what is currently happening is not sustainable for my body. So, this is where I want to break it into two areas when you’re looking at, you know, circumstances or like the physical side of what’s happening. Instead of thinking like, I don’t know your to do list or cleaning list or anything. I want you to think about it in terms of demands. So, there are some stationary demands and I’ll talk about these more in depth in a second. So, within this, we’ve got stationery demands and we have what I call traveling demands. So, within stationary demands, I want you to think about when you’re walking to different areas of your house, what are all of the things that all of the demands that are constantly at the forefront of your mind when you’re in your kitchen, for example, or when you move to your dining room or your laundry room or your bedroom and closet. Those are what I call stationary demands. It is like the visual clutter that you are always like taking a hit when you see a pile of papers that you need to address, and you just can’t get to right now. Now then there’s also the traveling demands, and the traveling demands are going to be more the things that are happening in your brain, remembering the appointments and the homework and the text messages and the social media posts that you want to reply to and relationships. And we’ll go more into that in just a second. So, I did this activity for myself where I took all my stationary demands only. Okay. I started there’s Like, I would probably say in my total square footage, it’s probably like a quarter to a third of my total square footage of my house. And that is like my kitchen, dining, living room area, which then feeds into like our bedroom laundry room, which then goes into like my husband and I’s bedroom bathroom closet. Okay, so I want you just to imagine that like section of the home. Now I went through and wrote all the stationery demands, everything that I think about when I’m entering these different areas of this room. was tedious. Okay. I want you, if you have a chance to do something similar, because you will be amazed that even if it’s not at the forefront of your mind, it’s still somewhere there, like holding space, that it’s something that you need to get done or something that needs to be addressed. So, I’m going to read just from my list so that you can get an idea on Like when I walk into my kitchen, what are the demands that I’m talking about? The stationery demands. And so obviously like a kitchen it is like the dishes are washed, the dishes are put away, the fridge is cleaned out, the garbage is taken out. For me, the bottles are washed, the bottles are sanitized, the bottles are hunted down around the house. Because they magically sprout legs. Choking hazards are picked up off the floor in the whole area right there. Toys are picked up in the living area. The couch is cleaned up. The remotes are found. The rug is vacuumed, again, to make sure there’s no choking hazards. The counters are wiped off. The table’s cleaned off. The floors are swept. Floors are mopped. We have enough paper plates. The Tupperware is stacked. Supplies are stocked. The plants are watered. Leaves are all cut off of my plants. I know, you know, my love of my plants. All the food is put away. The sink is cleaned out. The disposal has been run. The pantry’s kind of picked up a little bit just so you can find food in there. The stovetop is cleaned off. The bottle washer is cleaned. All the fruit in the fruit basket has been gone through. The bills are all stacked up. Some bills are paid. The side table is all picked up. The blankets are rolled up. The dishwasher started; the junk drawers cleaned out. So obviously I’m not going through every single one of these things. Every single time I walk into the kitchen. But the reason why I wanted to read you that list is as you’re making a list of all the demands, these are still the things in the back of my mind, even if it’s not at the forefront, it is still taking up space mentally within my mind. So, when I walk into this area, I’m. automatically seeing it. And that’s not everything. And then if you think about it, I’ll use my plants. For example, I have a lot of plants, a lot. I mean, there’s like 54 plants. Okay. So, if you think about 54 different plants that need to be watered. Okay. So, I’m not going to count every single one of those for just this sake, I’m going to lump them together. But in all the things that just read through right then, I didn’t even get through all of them. Just in that area at all times, there are 34 demands. 34 demands. And that’s not, again, the 54 plants broken individually, or the two remotes that you always have to find, or all the numerous things, all the pieces on the table that need to be put away in different areas around the house, not pieces of the table, like things the kids leave on the table that need to be taken around. Okay? So, I want you to think about that. 34 demands that are stationery. As we are thinking about this, now I want you to consider what are the traveling demands. Okay. So, the traveling demands, again, are the things like the kids asking to eat, having to be a referee, relationships. It might be your phone, the text messages that are going off, or a kid calling sick from school, or thinking about All the things that go into leaving the house once you go pick up the kids. Okay, so, you’re probably feeling really overwhelmed as I’m talking about this. And this is the Circumstantial stuff that we deal with Regularly, so when we’re thinking about this and I’ve had this visual in my mind as I’ve been thinking about it for myself or how do we manage all of these, especially when we’re moving, or we are already finding ourselves in functional burnout? So, think about it in terms of like, you know, in the movies where there’s a ship and they have all this cargo and somehow there, there’s been a leak that has struck the boat and suddenly they start scooping out the water. But then it comes a point where they realize they can’t scoop the water fast enough. They actually need to get the boat lighter. So suddenly in, in whatever show or movie it is, suddenly you see them throwing out all the pieces of cargo to hopefully not weigh the boat down. That’s what I want you to consider when we are looking at these demands, it’s important to recognize the demands we choose to throw out for a time, the cargo that we’re unloading, same thing with the stationery and with the traveling demands. Like, everything will feel like a priority when you are in functional burnout, but it’s important to recognize what’s a today problem versus what can I throw out of the boat for total survival for right now. So, when I do this activity, this is where I kind of go through everything and I write out the things that are not today’s problem. The things that are like in my parking lot, I guess you could say, or in giving my brain permission not to go there. So, for me, like I mentioned, I’m not consciously thinking about the junk drawer. Now, if I’m just feeling overwhelmed. Typically, what happens is that junk drawers will still feel like a priority. I always laugh like as soon as we’re overwhelmed suddenly the baseboards are going to look filthy and suddenly, you’re going to start your to do list and you end up doing something that wasn’t even on your to do list and then you get totally like derailed from it. That’s always a symptom that you are entering functional burnout. Now, when that happens, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. You can still get a lot of things done. What’s happening is you’re running yourself ragged and getting more exhausted on demands that aren’t even the ones that are really pressing or bothering you. So, it’s important to have like a demand parking lot. This is kind of like the, all the cargo that you’re throwing out into the water, if your ship is starting to sink. So, find somewhere. That you can write, like, these are the demands that you are parking here for a time, and you are not going to be worried about them. Might be the junk drawer in your kitchen. It might be the, I don’t know, I, like. There was even a time, you know, after baby where we didn’t check the mail for months, like I had to go to the post office because they took all of our mail back, literally filled a garbage bag, but at the time we had some really big family. emergencies that were going on, that it was just one of those things that it was all right. And that’s the blessing of bills is that most of the time you have a 90-day grace period, like that’s, that was okay. And so, all of those things were set in my parking lot for a time while I managed what was most important. And that was Me and my family in our boat, staying afloat. So, give yourself a chance, if you are feeling this right now or bookmark this to come back later when you start recognizing some of the symptoms that your body has. I’ll explain just a couple more of those in just a second, but bookmark this, come back to it. Start making a list of all of the demands as you go through this your body will want to stop I want you just to put your hand on your heart and say it’s okay all of these we don’t have to be done right now I just want to see what you’re carrying and the stress that’s on your mind right now Once you get it all out, you can you know, go back and talk with your body I’m like, yeah, you are carrying a lot No wonder you’re feeling so stressed and burned out right now. Let me help you with this. Here’s our parking lot. We’re going to put all of the things that are not today’s demand over here. Now, immediately your brain is going to say, well, but when am I going to get that parking lot done? It’s not a conversation for this episode, okay? I promise it’s not forever, it’s just for today. Anytime you are entering that functional burnout, go back to What’s today? Your boat is sinking. You’ve got to throw out the cargo. Doesn’t mean you don’t ever want cargo back in your boat just for today. It can’t stay in there because you are keeping you and your family afloat. So, the last thing I’ll mention, and I would invite you to make a list for yourself of what your symptoms are of functional burnout. So that you immediately know when you have entered it so that you can go and start using some of these tools. Again, we broke it down into there’s like the things you talk about with your doctor, the hormones, the vitamin deficiencies, you know, all of those things, you get those things taken care of. Then you can start looking at other tools. Is there some kind of medication that you need? You know, that’s another tool, you know, getting yourself some help through a doctor, a therapist, you know, whatever, a psychiatrist, whatever you need in that area is very important. Then you can start looking at, okay, what are some of the mindset shifts that I can be making? And then you can also look at the physical circumstantial demands. That’s this episode. So, when you’re looking at those symptoms. I know for myself, and I’ll share you share mine, but I want you to rethink about this for you. So, the symptoms that I experience physically are, I noticed that when I wake up and, in the evening, when the kids are in bed, that’s usually when my anxiety seems to be the highest. And it’s almost like an underlying, like, background noise of anxiety. That’s just simmering below the surface at all times. I also know for myself, like I mentioned at the beginning, my body feels like there’s weight inside of my bones. It’s it becomes a lot more painful. I feel it in my hands a lot like there’s just a lot of inflammation and it becomes painful to hold things or to like open things. I lose a lot of my hand strength when that happens. I’m trying to think of what other one’s background Physically, I recognize that I have a desire to hermit more where I’m not wanting to talk with people, even if it’s great relationships, even if it’s people coming to help, even if it’s, you know, friends and lunches and family and. All the amazing things. If I recognize I’m just wanting to hermit and not even have conversations, that’s usually another way that I know I’m getting to that place of burnout. The other thing that I recognize, and I see this actually a lot in my clients is if like responding to their text messages or Facebook messages or posting on social media or responding to comments on social media. If it feels like someone is banging at your front door asking you to respond right now and you just can’t get to the door, it’s like the physical sensation of it where you’re like, it’s just not happening right now. That’s another symptom. I experienced that one very much. Whereas if you’re like on the ball, like responding to text messages, like it’s not a big deal. It’s a very different experience. physically, right? So, the other one I’ll say is that I start noticing like a funny tick almost that I have of like moving a lot. Like even if I’m in my kitchen, a very small space, what I notice is that I’m going back and forth. It’s like my brain can’t see the three things on the counter that all go at the same time. It’s like, I’ll take one thing Over, and I’ll come back for the next thing, over, and then I’ll come back for the next thing, over, and then I’ll walk into a room, and I’ll totally forget anything that I was working on before. Like, it’s like I become very absent minded, but move significantly more. That’s another… physical symptom. Now, mentally, it’s a different experience. Mentally, there is a lot of, I can’t do this, a lot of feeling like you’re walking uphill and you’re exhausted, but your mind is spinning. I’m like, what’s wrong with me? I should be fine. This isn’t that big of a deal. Why can’t you get this done? Like it’s a much more shame filled experience in your mind. Again, these are symptoms. Now you can coach and someone or someone else can coach you around those thoughts, but I want you to move to a higher level to see that as just a pattern. Yes, those thoughts are going to come up, but if they’re coupled with some other symptoms, I want you to look at it from an overarching theme of functional burnout. That’s where you are going to start questioning yourself so much more and it will then. Make things physically harder for you because your mind is going constantly. And I know this isn’t one that. It’s usually one of my symptoms, but I know a lot of people that I’ve coached, this is one where you can’t turn your brain off at night, where you are laying in bed and your mind is spinning and spinning. For the most part, that’s not one that I have, but again, this is not like a comprehensive list. I want you to make sure that you’re thinking about your patterns and your behavior so that you can really hone in on it. All right, so I hope that this episode has been helpful for you as you are thinking about functional burnout. If you’re feeling like you need to run away from your house, know that there is an end in sight, but it might require you getting rid of some of the cargo in your ship. I am always here to help you with that. If you need it. Much love, mama. I’ll talk to you soon. Thank you for listening. Please share, review, and subscribe to this podcast so that together we can live life on purpose.
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