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Supermoms, beware the road to burn-out

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With the high demands placed upon women in modern society, many find it extremely challenging to juggle work, family and play. Photograph: John Hogg

Cape Town - In view of the numerous questions I receive on the need for quick fixes and tonics for exhausted mothers, it is fitting to mention the risks of burn-out and to shed some light on the topic.

With the high demands placed upon women in modern society, many find it extremely challenging to juggle work, family and play.

Most families have to negotiate survival and effective parenting at the cost of a well-balanced lifestyle. As parents, we know we should lead by example – yet fast foods and sedentary habits creep in and take over many households. “Do we have a choice?” many parents ask me daily.

Parents are also often at loggerheads, debating “who works harder” and who should “manage the kids”.

Then it is making dinner and assisting with homework. And taking care of household hygiene and organisation, which women are often expected to do.

Sadly in many homes these tasks are all done by a single parent.

Resentment can creep in and suppressed anger, aggression and even depression grip parents.

Every family is unique in its composition of skills and potential. The dynamics at play constantly involve self-sacrifice and a huge shift in mindset.

When they neglect themselves, many women start a downward spiral.

Sleep, diet and exercise are the fundamental pillars of health and when these are compromised, the body’s stress coping mechanisms are found lacking.

The immune system is suppressed and you are more susceptible to developing infections. Poor mental performance and social issues then rise to the surface – irritability, anxiety and even depression can dominate your life.

Learn to take action by doing things that help relieve stress. Alternatively, consult a professional. Choose not to be a spectator of your life.

 

Symptoms:

l Feeling tense or depressed

l Poor memory and concentration

l Increased alcohol consumption

l Anger/hostility

l Difficulty making decisions

l Frequent mood swings

l Negative thinking

l Easily distracted

l Excessive smoking or eating

l Feeling overwhelmed or helpless

 

How to relieve stress:

Taking baths;

Reading;

Breathing exercises;

Massages;

Writing in a journal;

Seeing a friend;

Napping;

Exercising;

Listening to music.

Information from clevelandclinic.org

 

* Dr Darren Green, a trusted figure in the field of media medicine, is a University of Stellenbosch graduate who adds innovative spark to health and wellness issues.

He features on 567CapeTalk, and is a regular guest on SABC3 and the Expresso show. Dr Green works as an emergency medical practitioner at a leading Cape Town hospital and completed four years of training as a registrar in the specialisation of neurology.

If you’ve got medical problems, contact the doctor at dr@darrengreen.co.za, 021 930 0655 or Twitter @drdarrengreen. Catch him in Cape Town on 567 CapeTalk, most Fridays at 1.30pm.

The advice in this column does not replace a consultation and clinical evaluation with a doctor.

Cape Argus

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