All of us – whether with work, school, our children, something else, or all of the above – have probably felt overwhelmed at some point. You’re constantly busy, constantly going, constantly in “on” mode, and suddenly you feel like it’s all just too much for one person to handle.
This burnout, or overwhelm, can affect pretty much every single area of our lives. It can cause us to feel on edge and moody, it can affect our sleep, our appetites, our relationships. It can even make you sick. And if we keep going while we’re feeling burned out, we just make everything 10 times worse.
This overwhelming state is a bad place to be – and a place that I know all too well, unfortunately. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t know when to take a step back until it’s too late, pay attention!
Here are my tips for dealing with burnout: (Don’t forget to download the workbook at the end of the post!)
1. Recognize the burnout.
The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. So before you can start to feel better, you need to be able to recognize burnout when it’s happening. So ask yourself these questions:
- Do you always feel exhausted, like you never get any rest?
- Do you find yourself feeling moody and/or snapping at people for no good reason?
- Do you feel like you’re obsessively stressing over something?
- Do you feel like no matter what you do, none of it matters?
- Do you feel unhappy/depressed/angry all the time?
If you answered yes to 1 or more of those questions, you might be burned out.
2. Think about all that you’re doing.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how much time we’re spending on certain activities. When you actually step back and take a look at what all you’re doing with your time, you might be shocked. So take out a piece of paper and write down everything that you’re spending your time on.
If something is unimportant or doesn’t need to be done, cross it off of the list. Make sure you know what your priorities are, and if something isn’t necessary or doesn’t move you closer to your goal(s), stop doing it. Or at least give yourself a break from it.
3. Try to meditate (daily).
Meditation is my #1 go-to way to deal with anxiety, stress, overwhelm, etc. Meditation can honestly do wonders for calming your body and mind. It can ease your mind when you’re feeling frustrated or flustered, it can help you focus and be more mindful; it can just help you be generally happier.
I know you think you’re too busy to meditate, but just 10 minutes can do wonders for you – and 10 minutes is nothing compared to how much better you’ll feel! Plus, if we’re being honest, everybody has 10 minutes a day to spare for something that’s important to them. Headspace is a great app for making sure that you’re squeezing it into your schedule.
Related reading: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
4. Get yourself organized.
If you’re not organized, your burnout will be so much worse. When you feel like you can’t do it all, or you have too much floating around in your head, or you don’t know where to start, or any other problem that comes from disorganization – you’ll probably feel like a mess.
So if you don’t feel organized, do what you need to do to fix it. Tidy up your house or work space, make sure you keep a to-do list, get yourself a planner, keep your papers organized, etc. Keep a schedule of all of your commitments (#7)! This will help you be able to think more clearly and, in turn, feel less overwhelmed.
5. Change up your environment.
I know that sometimes when I’m feeling burned out or overwhelmed, a simple change of scenery can do wonders. I don’t know why, but when I feel like I’m trapped in one place on top of the overwhelm, it just gets worse.
So if you think that you need to distract yourself, get your mind off of things, get some perspective, or just get out of your house/office, there are a few things that you can do. Take a walk, take a quick drive, go to a restaurant/coffee shop, a friend or family member’s house, etc.
6. Unplug for a bit, if you can.
I know that some jobs (and situations) require you to be “plugged in” but something that I find helps me is to just step back from electronics for a bit, turn off my laptop, cell phone, etc., and spend some away from it all.
While you’re unplugged, spend some time on something that you enjoy. Do your favorite hobby, take a bath, watch TV – whatever works for you.
7. Create a complete plan for your day.
Plan your day hour by hour. One thing that can leave you feeling super overwhelmed is going into your work with no plan. This can cause you to forget important things and leave you feeling unproductive. When you have a plan or a schedule, you know what needs to be over done and you can focus on things task-by-task. This will help you keep the overwhelmed feeling at bay.
So write down a plan for your work day the night before. Time blocks are super helpful for me when I have a lot to do. They also keep you from getting distracted or off-task. Just be sure to schedule yourself some breaks too!
8. Show yourself some compassion.
I know I’m probably not the only one who feels guilty for being overwhelmed. I always feel bad that I didn’t get everything done that I was supposed to, that I forgot to email that person back, that I forget things are due, that I’m not able to do everything, all the time. Especially when I compare myself to others who seem to have it all and do it all.
But the truth is, no one is able to do everything. Some people are just really good at not showing their weaknesses. So show yourself some compassion and cut the guilt and self-hate. We aren’t robots. Sometimes we get stressed out, moody, sick, and burned out. It happens. Just accept it, forgive yourself, and give yourself a break.
9. Remember to take care of yourself properly!
This is one that I need to seriously work on. When you have 3,898,009 things to do and virtually no time to get it done, self-care is usually the first thing to go. I mean, you have people depending on you. You have a packed schedule as it is. So why would you spend an hour caring for yourself when you have so many other things on your plate – that’s just silly, right??
Wrong-o! My husband, parents, and friends are constantly telling me that I need to stop trying to take care of everyone else when I’m not even caring for myself properly. That’s a tough pill for me to swallow. But it’s true – it’s not just good for me, either. I know that I personally cannot function at my best when I put myself on the back burner. If I haven’t given myself time to relax, if I haven’t been taking care of my body or mind, then I do a crappy job when I’m helping out all of those people. So if we really want to bring our best selves to the table, we need to give ourselves some TLC.
Related reading: Me-Time: 26 Fun Things to Do Alone
10. Have a good support system in place.
This isn’t the easiest thing in the world for some people. For example: as a blogger and freelancer, I love having people to talk to who “get it” when it comes to my job. But I don’t know anyone IRL who blogs or writes. That’s where Facebook groups come in handy, though.
But outside of writing, I have another support system in place. My husband, best friend, and parents are some of the best people who I can turn to when I’m going through personal problems or need support outside of my job. And this makes things so much easier than if I kept all of my problems inside. Plus, if I really need help with something, there’s always someone who I can turn to.
So make sure you have at least one person who you can turn to when the sh*t hits the fan – whether it’s your partner, a family member, a friend, or even an online group.
11. Start learning how to say no.
When you’re overwhelmed or burned out, it’s definitely time to start saying no to some people. If you’re a people-pleaser like me, then it’s a challenge for you to say no. But when you’re exhausted, moody, and frustrated, you’re probably not really helping anyone since you’re not at your best.
So start telling people no. If you don’t know how to say no, just politely tell them that you have too much on your plate at the moment and you just won’t be able to help them out. Maybe recommend someone else to them. Apologize and move on – don’t let yourself feel guilty or regret it. Sometimes you gotta put yourself first because if you take on too much and get too burned out, you can make yourself sick. And this isn’t selfish!
Another helpful post from zen habits: A Method for Dealing with Feeling Stressed & Overwhelmed
Take action now.
Take action now so you can feel calmer and more at peace before things get any worse! If you’d like a real, actionable plan that you can put to work for you, enter your name + email in the box below to download my free 16-page workbook. The workbook follows along with this post, and it’s filled with information and exercises for you to do in order to lower the overwhelm and stop yourself from getting completely burned out! 🙂
Question: How do you deal with feeling burned out or overwhelmed??