Politicians often stay in office until they lose an election, but not Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She recently announced her resignation, citing a lack of personal energy that could make another term less successful than her previous six years in office. Her resignation speech contained many notable points, but it specifically touched the hearts of working moms who also experience burnout.

Why Did Jacinda Ardern Resign?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave her resignation speech in January, citing that she “had no more left in the tank” to continue her job as Prime Minister. As she held back tears, Ardern reminded everyone she was human and that everyone reaches the end of their career path eventually.

Ardern also mentioned she looked forward to devoting her time to her daughter Neve and her partner, Clarke Gayford. They plan to get married once she’s out of office.

Her resignation speech centered around the idea that someone in her position should have the drive to do the job well. Burnout prevented her from finding the same energy to run for another term, so she wanted to announce her intention to pass on her title to someone ready to embrace its responsibilities.

What did Jacinda Ardern do as Prime Minister?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won her 2017 election as the youngest female leader of any country at that time. After running on a platform that promised to work toward free university enrollment, poverty-fighting government programs, and the decriminalization of abortion, she led the Labour party while expanding her family with her partner.

People will likely remember her for responding to the Christchurch mosque shooting in 2019 by outlawing automatic rifles at a time when other countries were making gun access easier by stripping away legal restrictions. She also led with compassion by mourning with first responders, setting a higher standard for world leaders dealing with national tragedies. In 2020 and 2021, Ardern’s COVID-19 restrictions eliminated the virus twice from the island’s shores.

Many experts agree her legacy will be one of compassion, even though the Labour government couldn’t achieve everything she ran on. The six years of hard work in times of national and global crises understandably led to her resignation and her speech’s citation of burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout occurs when your mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion exists for a prolonged period and doesn’t seem to go away. Your usual self-care activities may not relieve your stress as they used to.
Recent research shows 88% of working women are stressed, compared to 85% of men in full-time positions. The same study also pointed out 13% of women carry unmanageable stress, while only 11% of men said the same.

Do moms experience burnout?

Researchers found working moms are 28% more likely to feel enough stress to report burnout compared to working dads. Numerous factors can play into that percentage and may change with each household, but common societal expectations remain the same.

People expect moms to be there full-time for their kids while maintaining their household and supporting their partners. Meanwhile, they also need to thrive in their workplace and continue climbing their career ladders to establish their families with more financial stability.

Symptoms of burnout

These are a few symptoms working moms can watch for when they think they may be close to burnout. If you experience these regularly, it may be time to make positive lifestyle changes.

1. Career guilt

A recent survey found that of the parental respondents who cited feeling guilty for having careers, 58% were mothers who worked either in-person or remotely. Career guilt weighs on the mind, deteriorating your mental health and increasing stress.

2. Muscle tension

Stress is a mental health condition that results in physical symptoms. Your body may store stress in your muscles and create tension. Given that only a fraction of people seek medical attention for conditions like back pain, it can lead to daily aches that reduce your quality of life.

3. Fatigue

Emotional and bodily stress is exhausting. Burnout is highly likely when you add those feelings to the physical activity of working full-time, taking care of kids, and keeping up with your household.

4. Insomnia

When people are constantly dealing with work-related exhaustion, research shows they have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Stress may keep you awake due to insomnia symptoms.

5. Changes in eating habits

A 2021 study recorded trends regarding people eating less healthy food when they reported higher burnout levels. Although the food may result in short-term stress relief, processed food won’t support your well-being in the long term.

6. Irritability

Stress can also make people on edge, leading to snappy comments or quick mood changes. Typically, irritability disappears when people reduce stress by relaxing at home or finding workplace solutions. Those experiencing burnout don’t have that relief, so irritability may become a constant factor and even get dismissed due to the stereotype of women being more emotional than men.

Ask for help with burnout

Taking the space you need to recover from burnout is one lesson working moms can take from Jacinda Ardern’s resignation speech. Ask for help and seek advice from your doctor if burnout affects your mental or physical health. It may feel like an ever-present condition, but you can always make lifestyle changes to live with less stress.

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