How to prevent overwhelm and burnout.

You can do anything, but not everything.

You can do anything, but not everything. (Image Source: From Up North)

I’m not sure what it is about this time of year, but it seems like no one is immune to overwhelm and burnout.

Maybe it’s because of the holidays; we go from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah and Christmas in the span of one month (except for this year when we had Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the same day).  Perhaps it’s because we are all trying to cram in every single thing we can into a day, every single day, for a month.

Maybe it’s because we spend more time with extended family and coworkers than alone. Or because we are too busy cooking extravagant meals, baking, traveling, and running from party to party to take a break and do something just for ourselves.

Or maybe it’s because the culmination of running on all cylinders throughout the year is finally hitting us over the head.

Whatever the case may be, overwhelm and burnout are very real.

Here are a few tips to avoid it:

Learn how to say no.

When we say yes all the time, what we really mean is that we’re afraid to say no.

We are afraid of:

  • hurting people’s feelings
  • being called a bitch
  • missing out on amazing opportunities
  • making others angry or disappointed
  • losing out on money, work, and new clients
  • burning bridges
  • opportunities drying up

When you begin to understand the reason behind the yes, it becomes easier and easier to say no. Or to say no to the things that you truly and utterly don’t want to do, don’t have time for, and don’t enjoy.

Need some help saying no? Check out these 7 super simple ways to say no, own your power, and be awesome in the process.

Give yourself a break.

When was the last time you took a break?

No, really. When was the last time you got up from your seat and took a 10 minute break?

If you’re anything like me, it was probably a few hours ago, and only to go to the bathroom or heat up food before going right back to work. No stopping to gaze out the window, rock out to your favorite song, or read a few pages of whatever book your into at the moment.

And while productivity is great, working yourself to the bone is not.

It’s a recipe for disaster, burnout, mediocre work, and failure. Which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying for.

Want some ideas for building more breaks into your day? Check out these 7 tips for building in breaks.

(And yes, 7 seems to be the magic number.)

Stop procrastinating!

Since I’m a master procrastinator, this ugly habit tends to show itself when I’m feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and lacking in motivation.

It also tends to show itself when it’s least welcomed, like when I have 15 gazillion things on my plate, all requiring 100% of my attention.

And instead of doing those things, I find myself:

  • Focusing all of my energy and attention on completely unnecessary things (like website rebranding, ahem).
  • Putting off to-do list items.
  • Letting my inbox build up to astronomical proportions.
  • Deciding to catch up on a million newsletters instead of working on my own.
  • Playing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram instead of blogging. Or working. Or pretty much anything else I’m supposed to be doing.
  • Avoiding even the simplest of tasks.
  • Getting totally distraction…jumping from one thing to the next without finishing a thing.
  • Letting things pile up (mail, bills, etc.) to the point where it takes hours to complete a once simple task.

Did I mention the “I should know better” feelings that crop up alongside the bad habits?

Instead of procrastinating, get yourself back on track and commit to doing at least one thing that you’ve been avoiding on or dragging your feet on.

And if you need a few more ideas on how to avoid the avoidance trap, here are 5 tips help you stay on track.

Now it’s your turn.

How do you avoid overwhelm and burnout this time of year?

Please leave a comment below with your favorite tips and tricks.

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More about Emily Levenson

Emily Levenson is a meditation encourager, mama, and Pittsburgh enthusiast. She recently launched a podcast called Nourish + Flourish and is a co-pilot at Propelle.

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