I normally like to think of myself as a pretty high-energy kind of person, but not long ago I found myself dangerously close to burning out. For months, I had been moving full-speed ahead, and there hadn’t been a moment to spare, much less to catch my breath or to take a little time just to chill.
And for a while, I was doing okay. But then suddenly the weight of everything that still needed to be done felt like it might literally crush me at any moment. I was paralyzed, not even able to muster the oomph to figure out what to do first. I didn’t even have the energy to cry.
I felt totally spent, and completely overwhelmed.
Sound familiar? It’s the moment you feel like you might actually be on the verge of meltdown, knowing that if even one more thing gets thrown at you (or goes wrong), you simply won’t be able to even handle it. It might be that you are tired all the time, or having trouble staying focused. Maybe you feel disconnected from your friends or your spouse or even from God. Maybe you feel depressed or anxious or stressed.
Truthfully, I think we all have those moments sometimes, whether we want to admit it or not. Those times where we are about to crash and burn. Sometimes we can see it coming; sometimes it hits us like a ton of bricks falling from the sky, seemingly out of nowhere. But the big question is — what can we do about it?
Believe it or not, relief is closer than you think. Here are four simple steps to take as soon as you start to notice the signs of burnout.
Reach out for support.
Often when we are feeling overwhelmed, we tend to withdraw, which only makes us feel all alone in our struggles. But the reality is that this is exactly the time where we most need our friends!
Even the people closest to us can often see things from a different point of view, and that shift in perspective can make a huge difference. So give yourself permission to take the time for a phone call or coffee date with someone you trust, and then be honest about how you are feeling.
Do a brain dump.
There is nothing more overwhelming than feeling like there are a thousand thoughts taking up space in your head — all the must-dos and should-dos and want-to-dos, all the worries and guilt, all the random concerns. My husband calls them tornadoes, and I think that is the perfect name, because they literally feel like they are spinning around inside your brain, wreaking nothing but havoc. And in your head, they all feel so big and unmanageable.
When that happens, the best thing you can do is get it down on a piece of paper, where you can make sense of it all. Try setting the timer and start writing. Once it is all out of your head, you will then be able to take a step back, prioritize, and come up with a plan of action.
Focus on the one thing.
Once you’ve finished your brain dump and can see your thoughts on paper, ask yourself a couple of important questions to help you make immediate progress: What is the one thing I can do right now that will make everything else easier? What is the one thing that is more important than all others on this list? What is the one thing I can remove from this list altogether?What is the one thing I can pass off to someone else?
Give yourself grace.
As women, we can be so hard on ourselves sometimes! We have this idea that we are supposed to be Superwoman — always organized and put together, taking care of business and our families, always with a smile on our face and never a misstep. And when we fall short — or simply show that we are human — we feel as if we failed.
But the reality is that no one has it all together, all the time. We each have our struggles, and when life gets crazy, it is only natural to have those moments where we feel totally overwhelmed. Give yourself the grace to know that it’s okay to need a break, and remember that it is often during our hardest seasons that we discover our greatest strengths.
This article was written by the New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup. Soukup is dedicated to helping women overcome fear and create a life they love. Through her blog, Living Well Spending Less, she encourages her readers to follow their dreams and reach their goals.