One of my previous jobs before working as a content strategist was in the health industry. As a campus health coach, I worked directly with employees as a benefit of their health insurance. Every campus benefit system varies, however, in my case, there were very few sessions when I met with employees that didn’t eventually mention stress. The stress levels were so high our consortium certified us as Systematic Stress Management Counselors. College campuses are full of people who deeply care about their work, and work with very limited resources. This often requires people to juggle multiple job roles and leads to exhaustion as well as feeling undervalued. In many cases, I heard people express feeling disrespected and in extreme cases hopeless that their situation would ever change. These are signs of burnout that cannot be left unchecked.
We Need People Looking Out for Us
Meghan Markel was interviewed by Tom Bradby in October after her son Archie was born. Tom Bradby, the interviewer brought up some concerns Harry mentioned in a previous conversation. His concern for the dynamics surrounding his wife and the press are public, but I believe for many this video humanized Meghan in a new way.
Here is part of the transcript:
“It’s obviously an area one has to tiptoe into very gently,” he added, before asking her what the impact had been “on your physical and mental health of all the pressure that you clearly feel under?”
Meghan replied: “Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable.
“So that was made really challenging and then when you have a newborn … especially as a woman, it’s really, it’s a lot.
“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mum or trying to be a newlywed.”
Asked by Bradby how she was coping, Meghan said: “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m ok.
“But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Bradby then added: “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really ok? That it’s really been a struggle?”
To which Meghan replied: “Yes.”Tom Bradby Interview
Vulnerability = Courage
What no one knew at the time was that Meghan was holding back a deep pain. She’d suffered a miscarriage a few months earlier and was grieving.
“Are you OK?” a journalist asked me. I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many — new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering. My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn’t responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself.
“Thank you for asking,” I said. “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”
Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, “Are you OK?”Meghan Markle NYT The Losses We Share
We Will Burnout Attempting Life Alone
Whether we are trying to muscle through work or personal challenges it’s important to pause and recognize that our choice is unnecessary and unhealthy. We were created for community. There are people surrounding every one of us that would happily help if they only knew how they could be helpful.
As coaches’ wives, ministry wives, and military wives we already carry a heavy load when our husbands are in their busy seasons at work. When football season arrives I know that we are all going to have to step up and do a little more each day to just keep the house running at the bare minimum.
It takes longer to complete the workday because there are more interruptions with phone calls and errands. Laundry happens more frequently because we are all attending more events. Clutter piles up quickly as we rush in and out of the house. It’s difficult to plan meals because some days we are hungrier and other days a surprise keeps someone away for dinner. In between everything, there are fewer days to rest and reset. This is a recipe for burnout if we ignore things for too long.
Avoid Burnout & Connect with Your Community
This doesn’t require that you ask people to run errands for you or that you leave your kids with strangers. Try going for coffee with a girlfriend to decompress rather than stress eating. Do you have to redecorate a room? Take that stylish friend with you who knows how to put an outfit together. Her eye will catch things yours won’t and I guarantee she will show you a few new secrets about local sales too!
When you hit your chaos limit throw up the white flag and wave it until someone comes to relieve you, and when you are not in the middle of the crazy months be sure to look around and do the same for your fellow coaches’ wives, ministry wives and military wives.
Find your tribe and trust them with your hardest moments. Tell them that you need prayer even when you can’t explain why. Your tribe will understand and they will rally.
Above all, when you can, seize opportunities for extended time away where you can allow others to speak over you and life-giving truths. Take advantage of weekend trips with your husband, your girlfriends, and time alone when you can figure that out.
You will serve your family, your job, and your ministry better after some time away to recalibrate. How do I know? Because I do this fairly regularly and it hasn’t failed yet.
These resources are mainly focused on individual opportunities for mental and emotional renewal. Both group and personal activities are important for self-care.
Spiritual Retreats at Catholic and Jesuit Conference centers are available at almost any length and design you can image and pay for including with counseling from a Spiritual Director.
General Retreats are advertised from around the world here. Hop on Travelocity or Hotels.com and book a hotel or spa!
Pastor Steph has created a personal retreat with God resource you can download for free.
Getting out to take a walk in nature is always a great way to avoid burnout. Invite a friend along with you. You never know who else is looking for some time outside!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 2, 2020, and has been updated in January 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.