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All You Need To Know About The Fatigued Mother Phenomenon

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All You Need To Know About The Fatigued Mother Phenomenon

When it comes to the fatigued mother phenomenon, we are referring to a situation where mothers, especially those who are new to motherhood, go through physical, emotional, and mental depletion due to the constant demands of taking care of a newborn or a young child. This can result in feelings of being overwhelmed, feeling inadequate, and having a depletion of one’s inner resources.

You may have been pondering whether your heightened emotional reactions to both internal and external triggers could be a sign of the fatigued mother phenomenon. Perhaps, the quick and frequent triggering of your emotions, coupled with constantly feeling drained and exhausted, could also be another symptom to consider.

Experts Holly Zoccolan and Dr. Patricia Britto shed some light on what the fatigued mother phenomenon entails and provided insights on how to tackle it.

According to parenting specialist Holly Zoccolan: “To combat the fatigued mother phenomenon, it is crucial for mothers to seek assistance from friends, family, healthcare providers, and support circles; to assign tasks whenever feasible, establish achievable expectations, and set boundaries to prevent exhaustion. Common indicators and symptoms of the fatigued mother phenomenon encompass tiredness, irritability, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, disinterest in usual activities, and physical manifestations such as headaches or muscle tension. Various reasons might contribute to the development of the fatigued mother phenomenon, including lack of support, unrealistic expectations, sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts, financial strain, and societal expectations of ‘doing it all’.”

“Thoughts associated with the fatigued mother phenomenon could involve feeling swamped by responsibilities, questioning one’s parenting abilities, experiencing guilt for not meeting perceived standards, or feeling isolated and lonely. To alter these thoughts, the key lies in practicing self-compassion, recognizing one’s limitations, celebrating small victories, seeking input from others, focusing on what can be controlled, and challenging impractical expectations,” shared Holly Zoccolan.

“Diminished resources for mothers grappling with the fatigued mother phenomenon may encompass time, energy, social assistance, and coping mechanisms. Those under the influence of the fatigued mother phenomenon should prioritize self-care, enlist help from loved ones or professionals, delegate responsibilities, and explore available resources in their community or online. Seeking professional assistance becomes imperative when symptoms significantly disrupt daily activities, relationships, or general well-being, or if thoughts of self-harm emerge. The demands on mothers experiencing the fatigued mother phenomenon could involve tending to a newborn or a young child, managing household duties, nurturing relationships, and potentially balancing work or other commitments,” explained Holly Zoccolan.

“While akin to the fatigued mother phenomenon, parental burnout encompasses both mothers and fathers and may arise from prolonged stress, overwhelming parental duties, and feelings of emotional exhaustion or detachment from the parental role,” Holly continued.

Education Psychologist Dr. Patricia Britto added: “Motherhood presents one of the most demanding roles globally, and the fatigued mother phenomenon is a state of emotional fatigue. It emerges when a mother faces increasing demands while her support network and resources dwindle, adversely affecting her coping abilities. Society needs to grasp that when mothers encounter the fatigued mother phenomenon, it does not signify incompetence as a mother; rather, it signifies being stretched thin and necessitates support for self-care to enhance mental well-being. While discussions on the fatigued mother phenomenon are surfacing in the media, it is vital to note that it is not listed in the DSM IV (manual for diagnosing mental health conditions), hence caution should be exercised in applying such a label,” stressed Dr. Patricia Britto.

Causes for why mothers develop the fatigued mother phenomenon

“Mothers undergo the fatigued mother phenomenon due to the absence of support and resources. No one can give from an empty vessel; however, in today’s society, there is an expectation for mothers to handle all household responsibilities and cater to their needs. Many mothers tend to harbor guilt and selfishness for taking time for themselves, whereas, I always advocate that a content mother translates to a content child,” expressed Dr. Patricia Britto.

What thoughts might mothers experiencing the fatigued mother phenomenon entertain?

“The negative emotions tied to motherhood are intricate, and those undergoing the fatigued mother phenomenon may grapple with thoughts of reluctance towards motherhood at various phases, which is comprehensible and an anticipated experience. When persistent sadness ensues and gives rise to more complex mental health matters like suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others, it is crucial to seek professional intervention or contact the ‘Suicide and Crisis Lifeline’ for round-the-clock support,” advised Dr. Patricia Britto.

How can mothers shift these thoughts?

“Mothers can try engaging in self-care rituals and monitor their negative feelings to gauge any improvements; however, if progress remains elusive, I feel it is detrimental to solely attempt to reframe thoughts without reaching out for assistance. While there are advantages to restructuring thoughts, one must be wary of ‘toxic positivity’, which promotes the idea that irrespective of the challenges faced, maintaining a positive disposition is paramount, potentially jeopardizing a mother’s mental well-being,” further discussed Dr. Patricia Britto.

How does one conquer the fatigued mother phenomenon? What steps should individuals experiencing the fatigued mother phenomenon take?

Additionally, Dr. Patricia Britto stated: “Mothers require assistance in managing the demands of parenting. They need to set aside time for self-care routines and engage in activities that fulfill them. Healing is a nonlinear process and may take time in any situation; thus, dedicating a day to engaging in fulfilling activities such as meditation or a relaxing bath will not eliminate all negative emotions linked with the fatigued mother phenomenon. Mothers must either seek support or ask for aid in assessing their stress levels utilizing analogies like the stress bucket, by discerning what they can handle and what exceeds their capacity.”

The concept of the ‘stress bucket analogy’ revolves around envisioning oneself holding a bucket into which all stresses are poured. There exists a tap on the side, which once turned, releases some stress – akin to soothing stress through activities like a tranquil bath. The notion behind the stresscontainer is to visualize your tension as a tangible entity, which you can then identify when the pressure begins to overflow from the container. Our containers only have limited space within them – similar to how our wellness can only handle a certain amount of tension.

Dr. Patricia Britto suggests: “Practice introspection by posing inquiries such as:”

• What dimensions and form does your stress container have?

• To what extent is it filled?

• What are the indications that your container is nearing its capacity?

• Is your valve functioning properly?

• Do you resort to harmful and risky methods to alleviate stress, and how does this manifest?

• What would advancement entail?

• How would you ascertain that you have progressed? What activities would you be engaged in, and what would necessitate a change?

• Choose a soothing relaxation method.

Indicators and manifestations of depleted mum syndrome consist of:

The subsequent are signals of DMS:

• Continually heightened state of pessimistic sentiments and receptiveness.

• Augmented and consistent emotions of exasperation, wrath, and annoyance that are not easily curbed.

• Diminished capacity to achieve tasks that are usually simple for you.

• Being more emotionally triggered than usual.

What demands are elevated for individuals with depleted mother syndrome?

“In the contemporary context, numerous mothers may lack a support network (a village), despite the changing demands on mothers since the 1950s. Working mothers often allocate their earnings to cover living expenses and escalating childcare expenses. They may not possess adequate financial resources to access external support systems, leading to ‘going solo'”, stated Dr. Patricia Britto.

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