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A Working Mom’s Survival Guide: My Burnout To Bliss Breakthrough Journey

Whatever pain you are going through has a purpose and acceptance is the best way to move forward in life

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

I want to share my burnout to bliss breakthrough journey because I want to save women, especially working moms from the pains I have been through.

A central finding of the 2020 Women in the Workplace report by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. said that more than one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce.

I left the workforce and downshifted my career because of my burnout in 2014.

You may be thinking of changing careers or leaving the workforce because you are experiencing stress or burnout but before you do, I am looking forward to my story helping you make that decision.

The epidemic of stress and burnout has been affecting working moms for a long time because moms work double shifts as they manage a career and a home. The stress has even magnified for the past few months because the place of work, home and school is now rolled into one.

What is Burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” or “syndrome” stemming from chronic, unaddressed work stress.

It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

My Burnout Story

My burnout in 2014 was the lowest and darkest moment of my life because I was experiencing deep and unexplainable unhappiness and emptiness that is affecting all areas of my life – my health, my relationships, my work and my children.

I was always sick, and doctors cannot explain why. Worst is that my kids are getting sick because I was unconsciously passing on my stress and worries to them.

I had sleepless nights because I cannot find the meaning of my life and in what I do.

I had problems going to work because I always loved my job but there are many days I had to drag myself to the office.

I dared not to speak about my emptiness and deep unhappiness because my logic tells me that I have no right to do so.

I cannot even ask God why because I know He gave me everything I dreamed and asked for – a high paying salary, a comfortable life in a beautiful country, a managerial position at one of the top airlines in the world, an amazing husband and two beautiful girls.

I did not tell my family or friends. I know they will just tell me to just be content and thankful because I have everything in society’s checklist for me to be fulfilled and happy.

I know I had to get help because one day, I wished I stopped living so that my unexplainable deep emptiness and unhappiness would vanish with me.

A simple conversation changed the trajectory of my life.

It was a cold and quiet evening, I was lying on the bed when my husband asked me “Are we okay?”

I had tears in my eyes and I bravely responded, “The problem is not you, it is me, I need to find myself, please give me the time to do so”.

Yes, I learned that Acceptance is the most important step to breakthrough from burnout.

I learned that the most difficult emotions to digest are loneliness and unhappiness when you have every level of success society says.

You may be in a dark place right now, but I know that whatever pain you are going through has a purpose and acceptance is the best way to move forward in life.

Here’s what studies have to say about Acceptance this is what I also learned about it.

Best research and studies said that acceptance has an impact on the workplace and overall wellbeing. Acceptance improved employees’ general mental health, and innovation potential.

Here is how I used acceptance to breakthrough from burnout and move to bliss:

First, I accepted all my thoughts, feelings and emotions without judgment whether it is right or wrong.

When I accepted my negative emotions and owned them, I was able to move forward and find solutions.

These questions helped me find the purpose of my pain.

  1. What is my pain telling me to stop doing and to start doing more of?
  2. How can this pain inspire and help others before me?
  3. What can I do to be a resource of hope and help for others?

My unexplainable deep emptiness and unhappiness vanished when I started helping other people who are suffering from stress and burnout through volunteer coaching and training.

I learned that when you use your pain to help others, your suffering ends because you found the purpose of your pain.

Second, I Accepted 100% responsibility of my life.

When I stopped waiting for others to rescue me and when I stopped blaming my husband, my work and every person or situation, it all changed.

When I took full responsibility for my life, knowing that I have full control of my happiness, thoughts, feelings and emotions, I was able to take big and bold actions aligned with who I am and what I want.

When I decided to become the CEO of my life and stopped playing the victim role, I was able to build a purpose driven career and living.

I was able to break society’s myths and norms about work.

I reinvented my career to align with my soul’s purpose and family’s needs.

My REINVENTION in 6 years:

  • Audit Manager
  • Amazon Author
  • Housewife
  • Business Consultant
  • International Speaker
  • Career and Life Coach
  • Mompreneur
  • Senior Auditor

Third, I accepted that I cannot control any person or situation except my responses to them.

I learned that circumstances cannot define me, and I can change any negative situation or person by positively responding to them.

My burnout led me to breakthrough because it pushed me to redefine my life, my values and priorities and build a life and work around that.

I left my corporate career in December 2016, it seemed to be the best solution to my burnout, but I experienced stay at home depression in Mar 2017, 3 months after leaving corporate.  This pain led me to starting a business that I love – Caltan Training and Consultancy.

An earthquake and an attempted robbery in our apartment in the Philippines that happened on the same day in April 2018 led me to rejoin the corporate world last year. But I broke my own record because I was able to land a job in 8 days and relocate successfully back to Dubai with my family in 1 month.

The pandemic crushed me, but it led me to use my voice to help others find courage, clarity and confidence by sharing my burnout journey through webinars, interviews, podcasts, training and coaching.

The pandemic reignited my passion to help working moms struggling with stress and burnout through the Working Moms Academy, a platform and community that supports mothers struggling with stress and burnout by providing education lacking in schools for mothers to succeed in their careers, health and relationships.

You may have experienced or are experiencing stress and burnout in your career now but before you decide to quit or change your career, I urge you to find the purpose in your pain because as Rumi said “The wound is the place where the light gets in. The very awareness of your pain is your opportunity to let the light in.

My burnout is my darkest moment and deepest pain but today God used my story to enlighten and empower others.  I know God has a purpose in your pain, a blessing in your burden and a treasure in your trial.

If you are finding life challenging now, remember that it is okay if you are not okay.

Panic if you want.

Cry if you need to.

Feel your body pains.

Dedicate a worry time.

Forgive yourself of your failures and shortcomings.

Scream and shout your grievances out loud.

Write everything that bothers you.

Remember that you are not alone, Gallup poll says that more than 80% of people are unhappy with their jobs. You can be happier now by choosing to put a period on your pain by accepting and embracing all that you are because accepting yourself is the ultimate remedy and is the shortest path to healing.

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Wanda Calupig
Written By

Wandalyn Tan-Calupig is an international coach, consultant and speaker for working individuals and organizations they work for. After suffering from burnout, she found her mission to help others live happier lives. Connect with her on LinkedIn, book her for a coaching call or email her at caltantraining@gmail.com.

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