How To Deal With Stress When You’re Feeling Completely Burned Out (And How To Prevent It From Happening Again)
Stress and burnout are, unfortunately, often side effects of living a busy life.
That ragged way you’re feeling right now: waking in all hours of the night in a panic, feeling like you’re on the verge of tears, dull, low-grade exhaustion…
We’re going to dig into this whole feeling exhausted and burned out thing. Dig into the underlying whys. And better yet, we’ll figure out how to reduce stress and recover from burnout symptoms.
What do you need to know about feeling burned out?
First up, you need to know that there is nothing wrong with you. You are not a wimp. You are not undisciplined.
Feeling stressed out and overwhelmed isn’t a sign from the universe that you’re missing some magic ability to handle whatever life throws at you. The truth of the matter is this: you have too much on your plate.
Feeling burned out is a red flag. It’s your soul’s attempt to get your attention. And what is it telling you? Maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to accomplish too many things all at once.
At the core of feeling overwhelmed and burned out is that mind of yours. Our thoughts create our reality. Our minds tell us that we have no choice.
That scared inner critic of yours tells you that you cannot say “no” to anyone because if you do and put up boundaries, people may not like you.
Digest that for just a minute. You are sacrificing your mental health (and probably physical health, too) by allowing the wants of others to be a higher priority than your own self-care.
And, that mental fatigue has got to stop.
Now, your fear that people may not like you? Or worse, may not love you? Our fears try to keep us small and isolated. Our fears tell us that we are all alone, that everyone else is able to handle a crazy busy life. That it’s just you that feels this way.
Fear is also a liar. So, let’s bust that lie, dig into that inner courage of yours, and let’s go forward because, darling, you are not alone.
There are some real, concrete you can do to help ease the burden of feeling burned out. Note that this is not a magical pill that instantly fixes things nor will it relieve overwhelm 100 percent of the time.
This is a concrete stress management tool that will help you manage things. So, do it now. And any time those familiar feelings start to come back, you can turn to these steps to help you push back against this pressure and help you enjoy your life again.
So, here are the 5 ways to deal with stress and burnout.
1. Do a brain dump
Get it all out. List all the reasons why you are feeling burned out, the things that you have going on.
You can write this in your journal, your computer, note cards, whatever works for you. Write it all down so you can see it in front of you.
2. Identify the main categories your responsibilities fall under
There will be work responsibilities, of course. And probably a lot of things have to do with your family. If necessary, divide the family tasks into the immediate family (children, spouse) and extended family (siblings, parents).
Note family adjacent responsibilities, such as support kid’s activities or caregiving.
There might also be tasks on your list like maintaining some semblance of order in the house.
And did you remember to include the responsibilities you have when it comes to caring for yourself?
3. Decide what tasks can be deleted or shared
With everything sorted into categories, you can now analyze your tasks and responsibilities. Decide what you should continue to do and ask yourself what you can stop doing.
What feels like an obligation only? What’s the worst that would happen if you just didn’t do it?
Look to see what others in your household can do. Have a family meeting and discuss how your spouse and kids can relieve some of the pressure by taking on responsibilities. Sure, no one loads the dishwasher as perfectly as you. But, isn’t done better than perfect?
And remember that paying for support is a way of delegating. Hiring a person to clean the house so that it’s easier to maintain may be better than than trying to catch up with the neverending battle against the dust bunnies.
Pick up some ready-made meals from the grocery store.
4. Shift your mindset
For tasks that you cannot delegate or delete, shift your mindset. When you make the decision to see these tasks as “choices” not obligations? Your brain begins to see them as loving choices, not more reasons to feel overwhelmed.
I know that this seems like semantics on the surface, but, darling, your mind is a powerful thing.
Just like our thoughts add to us feeling burned out, they can also save us from feeling burned out. Using that mighty power of decision will help, immensely.
5. Define some non-negotiable standards and boundaries
Now that you’ve identified what’s causing you to feel burned out, ensure that it’s less likely to happen by defining some non-negotiable standards for your life.
And, the next time someone asks you to do something? You’re better prepared to say “yes”…or “no.” This is about setting better boundaries.
Continue through this process until your list of responsibilities becomes significantly smaller. Can you already feel that feeling of burnout beginning to lessen?
Now, to keep yourself from being burned out all the time, here are 7 self-care habits to cultivate in your daily routine.
1. Commit to getting enough sleep
You need a set sleep schedule and get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. The dangers of sleep deprivation are very real.
If you’re not getting enough sleep and not getting it consistently, that’s the same thing as having several glasses of wine in one sitting. And you can’t be in control of your life if you’re constantly in a fog.
2. Set your morning up for success with morning routines and rituals
Rituals such as meditation, prayer, journaling, or a morning sweat session will support you.
Create a morning routine that empowers you and gets you energized to start the day.
3. Identify the energy vampires in your life
Say goodbye to anyone that drains you.
Ditch the drama queens and distance yourself from all the Negative Nellies.
4. Create a gratitude practice
I know, I know, easier said than done when you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed.
Gratitude is truly a saving grace.
5. Make the conscious decision to be happy
Your unhappiness and the constant feeling of burnout is a sign that you think happiness is eluding you.
Stop your endless pursuit of happiness and the next thing and choose to be happy right here, right now.
6. Take some time to plan
Be willing to go “old school.” When you take the time to get everything down on paper, you can gain perspective.
Maybe you think you have a good memory. Or you depend upon the reminder on your phone.
Being able to write down what you have going on in the next few weeks will help you better visualize what’s ahead.
7. Meal planning is your friend
Just like you need sleep, your body needs good food. And, we all know how easy going through the drive-thru is when we’re tired.
Planning ahead helps you eat better. A meal plan allows other family members to take some dinner-time responsibility by pitching in!
Choosing to be happy isn’t the same as always feeling happy. And you will have moments of feeling overwhelmed again. And, yes, you may feel like you’re on the edges of burn out.
Remember that all of this mindset work. And the decision to cultivate new habits to protect yourself from burnout isn’t a once and done thing.
Cultivating is something we do time and time again to ensure that we continue to find love and nourishment in our daily lives.
Rather than letting life trample upon your heart, take a breath and a step back. Decide to live a more nourished life.
By tuning into the things that make our hearts free and our brains working at their best, we can live our lives to the fullest.