Practical Self-Care When You’re Overwhelmed

I spend a LOT of energy on self-care.
I have daily self-care rituals,
I read self-care articles,
I share self-care tips on Instagram,
Heck, this whole blog is a form a self-care!

But you know what?
I still have nights when I find myself completely overwhelmed,
burnt out, weepy, irritable… just, generally LOST. Wondering,
how did I get here?

I try SO hard to take care of myself.
What went wrong?

For me, the answer is usually.. that there is no straight answer.
And it’s probably not in my control to fix anyways.
…Sometimes it’s hormonal, (like during PMS/Period)
…Sometimes it’s situational, (like on a week when I’m overbooked)
…Sometimes it’s physical, (like if I’m dealing with back pain).
…Sometimes it’s just a mystery.

I’m working hard to accept that I can’t control every mood, every hormone, every schedule…
BUT, I have learned a few basic self-care tools for those nights when I’m BEYOND burnt out.
Those night when my husband asks, “What do you need? What can I do to help?”
And I look at him tearfully and whisper, “I just don’t even know.”

These tips are easy. I promise.
And I hope they help you like the’ve been helping me!
Maybe you can give me some pointers in the comments, too 😉

xx, Beth

How to Do Self-Care When You’re Overwhelmed

1. Shower Like You Mean It

My favorite easy self-care tool is to take a long hot shower. Like a really, really hot shower.

My husband always jokes with me and says, “Ya feel better after cookin’ yourself?” And you know what? I really do!

But I recently discovered a secret… It REALLY HELPS if you imagine that you’re washing someone else. And not in a sexual way. Not at all. I mean in the way you’d gently wash a family member who is too sick to care for themselves.

It’s kind of shocking, when you do it for the first time. Personally, it made me realize that I usually rush the actual cleansing part of my shower. In the past, I would kind of just stand in the hot water, blasting myself, and sometimes cry for a minute. And then I would just stand there some more. And eventually I’d wipe my eyes, soap up, and get the hell out of there. LOL, kind of a sad sight, huh?

Well now, my self-care showers are more filled with love. They’re more patient. More intentional. More like, I’m viewing myself as a person who needs TLC. Viewing the shower from an outside perspective. You should try it! It’s so easy, even on a day when you can’t even think of what you want or need.

2. Turn Off Your Phone

I typically turn off my phone every night so I can be present with my husband and daughter. But sometimes it really helps me to unplug during the day, too!

Not all day.. Because I like to be accessible in case of emergency.. but sometimes I do turn off my phone during naptime. Honestly, the act of turning the phone OFF (instead of on silent) feels like a relief! I think it creates a healthy barrier that promotes rest and self-care.

This is a super easy place to start when you just don’t know what you want or need. Quieting the noise of the outside world allows one to focus inwards.

3. Drink Water

Sometimes the simple act of drinking a whole bunch of water can drastically improve my mood! If I’m feeling tired, irritable, bloated… I’ll force myself to gulp down a couple glasses of water. Magically, it only takes about 30 minutes to improve how I feel, both emotionally and physically.

Have you ever tried this? I hope you will! It’s free and easy, even on a day when everything feels like a chore.

4. Change Your Clothes

Sometimes it really helps me to change my clothes when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Because when I’m overwhelmed, I don’t feel pretty, comfy, at ease, proud of myself… Fresh clothes are an easy way to care for your physical and emotional state!

The type of clothes is completely situational. For me, sometimes a this means getting into PJs early. Sometimes it means dressing up and putting on makeup in the middle of the day for no reason. Sometimes it means changing my bra. Almost always, it means putting on something soft and cozy that’s also feminine.

Give this one a try! The act of changing clothes is an easy way to feel that you’re moving forward and taking care of yourself.

5. Play Cheerful Music

Music is probably my main self-care tool throughout the day. If I’m feeling kind of sleepy or in a rut, I put on something cheerful, and it helps dramatically!

It helps to have a few go-to songs (or a special playlist) in your self-care docket. Because personally, I sometimes feel so “over it” that I can’t even think of what music I’d wanna listen to.

So if music isn’t already part of your self-care, you should try to incorporate it! Slowly but surely, those songs work their magic!

6. Get Moving (In ANY Way You Like)

If I’m struggling with burnout during the daytime, it really helps me to just get up and MOVE. (Easier said than done when you’re exhausted.) For me, this usually means tidying up the house with my daughter and cleaning the surfaces, taking out trash. Once I get started, I gradually feel better.

This helps me get out of my head and loosen up my body. I struggle a LOT with back pain and with anxiety. The two often feed off of each other, and it totally sucks. But as much as I hate it, movement almost always helps! *insert eye roll* LOL.

Do you already include movement in your self-care efforts? It doesn’t have to be anything major like yoga or jogging. Even just simple stuff like weeding or vacuuming can help when you’re overwhelmed. Try it!

 7. Make Tea

There’s something so comforting about a cup of tea. And it’s the simplest thing, but the act of making tea really makes me feel good. Like I’m doing something proactive for myself.

I fell out of love with tea for a few years… because I drink a pretty alarming amount of coffee. Hahah… Yeah, typically I’m a “if-it’s-not-caffeinated…what’s-the-point” kind of person. But you know, it feels nice to go out of my way to make a cup of herbal tea …between pots of coffee. 😉

So even if you’re a coffee person, you should give tea a chance, in the name of self-care. It’s fun to try new things!

8. Read or Watch Something Feel-Good

Sometimes the best medicine (for me) is to get out of my head and get swept up in a BBC period drama. I almost always feel better if I put on an episode of “Call the Midwife” or even a comedy like “Fawlty Towers!” Idk I guess I’m a borderline anglophile. But there’s something real cozy about British shows that makes me happy.

If you’re more of a reader, try keeping a favorite book out on display for days when you’re burnt out and need a quick pick-me-up. For example, I don’t even know how many times my Mom has read “Pride and Prejudice,” but it still makes her happy every time! I bet she could flip to any chapter and start reading and it would make her day a little bit better.

Just like music, it’s helpful to have a couple go-to shows or books for days when you’re struggling to relax.

9. Focus on Someone Else

I know that on paper, this is like the opposite of self-care. (As a Mom, I get burnt out of taking care of everyone else! That’s why I need self-care in my life!)

But when I am overwhelmed, I don’t know what I need or want. So sometimes it helps me to just enjoy making someone happy. Then once the ball is rolling, I can do something nice for myself, too.

Here’s an example: sometimes when I’m burnt out, I find myself scrolling through Instagram, and not even enjoying it. But instead of guilting myself for scrolling, I like to use “the urge to scroll” as an opportunity to focus on someone else. SO I challenge myself to comment on the first 3 posts I see, and then put my phone down.

It’s interesting to make yourself slow down and really think about how to interact with 3 posts in a row. (Sad but true! LOL.) And it feels good to leave a nice comment for someone you don’t know in real life!

Anyways, that’s just a tiny example of how to pivot from a feeling overwhelmed. Do something tiny for someone else. Make someone a cup of tea, write someone a thank you note, give someone a hug. It feels good to be a nurturer, to think: “Hey, I’m doing it! I’m being kind! I’m a helper!” I believe it can be a form of self-care, if it’s done with intention!

10. Accept Today, Believe in Tomorrow

One of my biggest struggles. BIGGEST. In general. IS:
I have trouble viewing the big picture.

So when I get burnt out and overwhelmed, it’s easy for me to get lost in the narrative of my emotions.
I analyze and dwell, and think: “what should I have done different?

But that’s not always healthy.
Personally, I’m working on trying to let go of a bad day. To move on and truly believe that I’ll wake up and feel better!

My husband always reminds me of that Anne of Green Gables quote: “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it…well with no mistakes in it yet.”

I hope someday I’ll be less of a perfectionist, less of an analyzer, and can put faith in the power of “tomorrow.”

So if you don’t already, I hope you will think about this quote next time you’re burnt out. It’s a free and easy self-care strategy: to visualize your “tomorrow” looking calm and joyful!

flowers and arch windows
Photo by Jacob Meyer

Leave a Reply

  • Beth, I laughed out loud when I read the comment about cooking yourself in the shower! I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who likes to take hot steaming showers till my face melts off! Lol I feel like I’m on a roll with this self care thing because most of the things you listed I actually do already.
    For example, after reading your previous blog about not being a morning person and drinking two cups of water as part of your routine, I started doing that as well and find that it helps tremendously. My skin has cleared up quite a bit and I find that I’m actually pretty hungry now in the morning’s and I look forward to eating breakfast after my two cups of water. Could it be the water? Or is it just in my head? I don’t know lol
    Also, listening to music is probably one of my favorite things to do besides putting on my favorite pair of comfy sweats and my favorite cozy unicorn slippers!
    What I don’t do yet but I think is a great idea: turning off my phone during nap and even bed time routine! Michael says sometimes, “Mom, you’re always looking at your phone.” I need to be intentional about my time with my children, especially Michael since he’s gone 9 hours Monday-Friday due to school.
    Thanks for sharing these tips Beth!

    • Hey Julia!! Thanks so much for taking time to read and chat! Love that you’re already implementing so many of these things. Let me know if you find more tips, especially with the screen time. I’m struggling with that tbh *sigh* 😉 xx, Beth

  • When I have one of those days I reflect back on a better day and try to remember that this too shall pass-some days are good and some days are bad. That’s life. I think it was harder when my girls were little and they had bad days. My momma would have to remind me that even little kids can be in a bad mood or “down” and they not only don’t know why but they also can’t tell us how they feel. I find making lists is sooo helpful and like you said, focusing on someone other than myself. Which frankly is what it feels like we moms do all the time anyway. And sometimes we just need some attention as a human and not as a mom.

    • You’re absolutely right! Sometimes I’m still caught up in the idea of how to “fix” Violet’s mood, but really sometimes she just needs extra TLC bc she’s having an off day. Good reminder, thanks for taking time to share 🙂 xx, Beth