You’ve heard about workplace burnout; what about home life burnout?
Burnout at work is such a common problem that the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as an “occupational phenomenon” back in May 2019. According to WHO, burnout involves feelings of exhaustion, being mentally checked out of your work, and reduced efficacy.
What if you’re getting those feelings not at your desk, but in your own home? Your home is supposed to be where you can unwind, relax, and “take a load off,” but stress can build up inside your four walls if you’re dealing with family feuds, frenzied budgets, health problems, or other chronic stressors.
Whether at work or home, too much stress can melt your energy and wither your patience, which can worsen your relationships and cause you to lash out at your spouse or kids. If you feel depleted, you’re also less likely to keep things tidy, and all that clutter just adds to the chaos. Home stress can also spill over to work stress, and you might feel like you have no place to take a breather.
Cutting down on stress in your home life has many benefits. Along with making a more positive home environment, you’re also modeling conflict resolution and stress management to your kids, which has long-term perks for them as they become adults themselves.
Here’s what experts recommend to reduce family stress at home:
1. Set and respect individual boundaries (within reason).
Each person benefits from privacy and personal space. That doesn’t mean your 10-year-old son can get unchecked access to the internet for five hours, but it does mean he can have some time alone to gather his feelings if he’s grumpy after school and “just wants to be left alone for a while.” Not everything has to be hashed out on the spot, and some personality types benefit from this alone time.
2. Create a basic daily routine.
You don’t want to overly structure each person’s life down to the minute, but it does help the entire family run more smoothly if everyone knows what to expect each day—just like how your kids’ school day follows a predictable pattern.
Good things to include in a daily routine are:
Basic chores to prevent messes from building up (e.g., who will do the dishes or clean up after dinner?)
Morning schedules to prevent fighting over the shower or lateness
Homework time to make sure all family members keep noise levels low, and all homework gets completed
And bedtimes to make sure everyone is getting their 8 hours and quiet hours are respected. (Here are other sleep habits to reduce stress.)
3. Set rules to reduce stressors.
Some families are naturally rambunctious and enjoy a noisy space, but if one person finds this stressful, you may want to set some guidelines about noise levels. For example, consider setting rules about TV volume or yelling, especially during certain times of the day (such as while kids are doing homework or close to bedtime).
4. Promote stress relief.
Stress management is a good practice in general, and this may be a great opportunity to model self-care to the whole family. Make sure all family members are staying active, eating well, and getting enough sleep. If kids are sharing a room, make sure they still have opportunities for privacy and relaxation.
5. Budget, budget, budget.
If one family member feels like others are “wasting” money, resentment can quickly build up and fights ensue. Include your kids in a conversation about non-essential spending. If allowances work for your family, you can include that in the budget, but help the kids practice how to budget that money (so they don’t come to you begging for more money two days after allowance day).
What works for each family will vary, but overall, respect and preventative structures go a long way to extinguish burnout at home and keep family feuds to a minimum.
Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2019. (Accessed on July 10, 2019 at https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/.)
Managing stress for a healthy family. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (Accessed on July 10, 2019 at https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress.)
Stress in families. Weatherford, TX: American Institute of Stress. (Accessed on July 10, 2019 at https://www.stress.org/families.)
Stress management. Weatherford, TX: American Institute of Stress. (Accessed on July 10, 2019 at https://www.stress.org/military/combat-stress/management.)