Battling Burnout and Self-Shame

“…Three things happen [when you get burned out]: you become chronically exhausted; you become cynical and detached from your work; and you feel increasingly ineffective on the job.”

– “The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It”

Does this sound like you, Mom? Chronically exhausted? Detached? Do you feel ineffective?

I get it. The school year is a marathon we’re almost squarely in the middle of right now. The happiness of the holidays is behind us and our collective vitamin D barometer is beyond empty, making SAD (seasonal affective disorder) a very real problem for a lot of us.

The struggle is REAL.

If we can just make it to the next break, right? If we can just make it to our next vacation that’ll fix it, right?

Actually, according to research, burnout is not intimidated by your Spring Break threats. The Journal of Organizational Behavior say “teachers’ work engagement significantly increased and teachers’ burnout significantly decreased after vacation. However, these beneficial effects faded out within one month.”

So it’s kind of like taking an Advil for a tumor. Awesome.

What do we do then? Well, according to Emma Seppala the science director at the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, nearly the entire world has “simply accepted overextension as a way of life.” In an interview with the New York Times, she says,

“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Biologically we are not meant to be in that high-stress mode all the time. We got lost in this idea that the only way to be productive is to be on the go-go-go mode.”

Because homeschool moms and parents carry such a heavy responsibility, burnout can lead to damaging self-shame and internal dialogue that make the hole even deeper.

“I’m burnt out because I’m not strong enough…good enough…smart enough…qualified enough…capable enough.”

You’re not alone in this. Our brains crave explanations and often the only common denominator we find is us. But this is rarely accurate and always does more damage than good. So let’s, you and me, formulate a game plan for your next burn-out fueled, shame spiral.

  • Focus on your breath – The moment when you hear that mean little voice in your head accusing you, turn your attention to your breath. 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out. Imagine you’re filling your brain with grace words only every time you inhale and blowing out unhelpful, shameful, death words with every exhale. After breathing for a while, begin to speak to yourself as you would a dear friend. Never would we even THINK about speaking to a dear friend the way we speak to and about ourselves! Be gentle.
  • When was the last time you took a break? Even for just 5 minutes? A lot of research shows that you should take a 5-minute break after every 20 minutes of work. You need this and your student(s) also need this. If mom is frustrated and internally battling self-shame, kids pick up on that and will mirror you. Set an example. That atmosphere isn’t conducive to learning anyway so work smarter and circle back after a 5-minute break.
  • Process with a mentor – Absolutely essential. Get a friend or, even better, a therapist who can help you unpack and speak back to negative self-talk.
  • Make time for what makes you come alive – Make time for the hobby that helps you center yourself and de-stress.
  • Shift your perspective – This is easier said than done but it is transformational. You GET to be your kids’ teacher. You GET to watch them, nurture them, cheer them on into the dynamic, creative people they were made to be. Would you have it any other way?


Burnout happens over time so it will require time to heal and recover. Be intentional, take care of yourself. The good news is: even in this you are teaching so show the little leaders in your house how to respond to burn out and shame. They’ll need those tools too.

How do you address burnout and self-shaming? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments below, someone might need to hear your words!

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