Tips on Self-Care for Busy Women Who Overdo It and How to Give Yourself a Break

Whether you work a high-pressure job, you have children to look after, or some combination of both, we’ve all been there when we’re trying to do too much and we’re so tired that we just don’t know what to do with ourselves anymore. But self-care is essential.

women lying near to a multicolored glass window

As someone who spends the majority of their time working and then some more at home taking care of their responsibilities, it’s easy to see how self-care can fall to the bottom of the totem pole. However, taking care of yourself is vital to your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships with friends and family, and even your career success! This blog will provide you with tips on self-care for busy women that you can incorporate into your routine so that you don’t burn out before you even have time to enjoy life!

Self-care doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the bathtub, although it certainly can if that’s what works for you.  Because that is exactly one of the things that work for me.  But although self-care may sound like a foreign concept to you if you’re one of the many busy women who overdo it.  But learning how to better care for yourself could be the key to getting your work and life balance on track.

If you’re a woman, you probably have no shortage of things to do, places to go, people to see, and things to get done in the next 24 hours. And if you don’t, it’s likely that you feel that way often enough that this article resonates with you. I know from experience—I’m on the same hamster wheel as many of you are, always trying to keep my head above water and feeling like I’m drowning in everything there is to do and not enough time in which to do it all!

Are you overworked?

If you’re pushing yourself too hard, it’s not just bad for your health—it also may be impacting your work performance.

According to a recent report from Staples Advantage, more than 50 percent of workers said they are too busy at work to eat lunch. And two in five people said they’re so stressed that they’ve done nothing but work all weekend. When pushed to such extremes, there is always stress, fatigue, and frustration that can lower one's productivity.

Things to look out for to determine if you are overworked include time management issues, trouble concentrating, or lack of motivation because these are all symptoms indicating burnout.

What is burnout?

Most people have heard of it but not everyone understands it.

Burnout is when you’re exhausted from prolonged stress.

While most of us know what burnout feels like, we often don’t realize that we are experiencing burnout until several signs become apparent. In fact, many times these symptoms creep up slowly until one day we wake up completely overwhelmed.

If you experience any of these symptoms (many overlap with depression), it may be time to take some time off:

  • One or more of your usual activities suddenly start making you feel tired, drained or stressed out?
  • You stop going out as much as before or cutting back in ways that surprise even you.
  • You need caffeine, sugar or a change in plans just to make it through your day?
  • Your sleep pattern has changed so that getting seven hours seems impossible anymore even though 10 years ago seven hours seemed plenty?
  • You catch yourself trying to do multiple things at once and get nothing done at all?
woman in white top holding a smartphone with head down on table

How to know if you overdoing it and on your way to burnout

Although it may seem like you’re superhuman, as humans we all have our limits.

You can overdo it at work or you can overdo it in your personal life, but it’s easy to see yourself when you need to take a step back.

These are some of the signs that can show if you’re pushing yourself too hard:

  • You start skipping lunch or breakfast in order to get more done.
  • Your social calendar is empty—and while you once enjoyed going out with friends, now you just don’t have time.
  • You stay late at work to finish a project so others don’t have to pick up your slack—because it seems worth sacrificing extra hours sleeping in.

However, if these things describe your day-to-day routine, then chances are you might be getting burned out. If so, take some time off (even a day or two) to spend doing what brings you joy.

Let's talk about some ways to give yourself a literal and figurative break.

7 Tips on Self-Care For Busy Women Who Overdo It

Take a Off Day

We all need them from time to time, especially when we’re stressed or overwhelmed. Don’t feel guilty about taking some downtime every once in a while—even if you take it unannounced!

If your co-workers are annoyed that you disappeared, let them get over it. If they wonder where you were, just say I needed some personal time; I was at my therapist’s office or in yoga class or visiting with family.

Whatever self-care routine works best for you is fine as long as it helps you recharge during an otherwise busy week.

Schedule Me Time

If you’re anything like me, you spend your workweek (and many weekend hours) completely immersed in your career and personal life. But if you don’t carve out time for yourself, you could end up burning out, or worse, get sick. 

Most women are notoriously hard on themselves, setting extremely high standards that they’re inevitably unable to reach. The end result? Underperformance or burnout. The problem is that we simply don’t allow ourselves time off; we run our bodies into exhaustion and make stress an unavoidable part of our lives. However, your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so it’s important to schedule in some me time now and then—it doesn’t have to be fancy!

Start by scheduling one hour every week that is only dedicated to self-care. Maybe that looks like taking a long bath or reading (or even listening to) an engaging book; whatever it is that relaxes you and energizes your mind to be more productive next week—do it!

While I am all for personal development reading, sometimes you just need to get lost in a good story.  For me, that can be a fiction read or an autobiography.  Something that is purely for my enjoyment.

white apple iphone on wooden table

Put Your Phone Down!

If you have a problem with self-care, chances are your smartphone is part of it.

Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok aren’t just fun ways to connect with people—they’re also dopamine triggers that can keep us reaching for our phones even when we don’t really want to use them.

These same apps can make it especially hard to get focused work done. But there are simple steps you can take to set yourself up for success:

  • Put your phone out of sight or in another room (or turn off notifications).
  • Close those social media tabs and any others that tempt you away from doing what needs doing.

You might be surprised at how much more effectively you do focus if you manage distraction beforehand instead of allowing yourself to get distracted by technology.

Treat Yo'Self

Stress releases hormones that in excess can slow your metabolism down, leading to weight gain. A quick way to get stress out of your system is through self-care.

Take time each day to do something you enjoy, whether it’s indulging in a cupcake or calling your sister back home. When we take time out of our busy schedules to reward ourselves, we tend not only to feel better but also perform better at work and are more productive overall.

See Also:  Treat Yourself | 12 Ways To Do Just That WITHOUT Involving Food

Don’t Try To Do Everything

Too often, we think that in order to be productive, we have to do it all. 

Not true! 

The truth is that multitasking can actually be a source of inefficiency and can cause us to take twice as long to complete something because we’re switching between tasks so much. 

To keep from getting burned out, try doing one thing at a time without distraction or pressure. That way you’ll find it easier to tune into your needs and priorities (and save some time).

But beyond that, maybe there are things that you have taken on as yours, that is actually not yours at all.    Stop picking up other people’s responsibilities, worries, needs, and stresses.  Give it back, hand it off.

Don’t try to do everything yourself.

Take it easy, you deserve it

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your daily grind—but that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your job (or your family too for that matter). So, why not make an effort every day to give yourself time off?

We believe that we should never stop playing hard and working hard, but just because you play hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also let yourself enjoy some downtime.

Set Limits And Boundaries

Sometimes we over-commit because we feel pressured by other people. If your friend asks you to head up her foundation for next year’s fundraiser, ask yourself why you’re saying yes. Are you taking on too much responsibility for other people? If so, it might be time to reevaluate your priorities—and say no. Saying no is hard and won’t necessarily make you popular, but learning how to do it is essential if you want to take care of yourself and achieve happiness in your own life.

Boundaries, similarly, are about respecting your own needs. If you want to leave work at 5 pm, that’s something you need to make clear with everyone around you. There are some social norms around working late (or at least not leaving early), so it might be easier to just stay put and deal with it. But by setting boundaries and advocating for yourself, you can take care of your own needs—which will help reduce your own overall stress levels.

Don’t Forget You Are Not Perfect {and you don't need to be}

Perfectionism can be tough to shed, but it is crucial to recognize that it’s an unhealthy way of thinking. Perfectionists are rarely happy, and they always feel like they could do better. Remember that you don’t need to be perfect; in fact, striving for perfection only leads to feeling stressed out.

The next time you’re feeling like you could be doing more, ask yourself: 

  • What are my priorities right now? 
  • What are my goals and can I get closer to them by pushing myself to be perfect? 
  • Am I happy with how I’m spending my time right now? 

If you answered no to any of these questions, it might be time for you to take a break. As much as it might feel like taking a break would mean letting go of your goals, it is actually essential to being able to achieve them in the long run.

photo of women sitting on orange sofa

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

The support you surround yourself with is an important factor to consider. Find people who are going to make you laugh and lift your spirits, but also be around those who will pull you back from exhaustion, anger, or burnout. 

Your tribe is a group of people who are like-minded, who can empathize with your struggles, and understand your process. They will be there to offer you support, critique you constructively, and walk beside you as you work toward your goals. Look for people who have gone through similar challenges as you. They may be able to help put things into perspective or offer valuable insight into your situation.

They may be able to offer up the encouragement you need in your most challenging times.

Get Some Sleep

Getting enough sleep is imperative to keeping up with daily life, but it’s much easier said than done. It can be difficult to find time to slow down, especially when you have so many obligations. 

As adults, we know that sleep is crucial for our bodies and minds to recover from stressful situations and stay alert in less hectic times. But many of us have trouble practicing what we preach when it comes to prioritizing our sleep over other things. We often convince ourselves that we can make up for it later in terms of rest.  But what actually happens is that we end up feeling exhausted and run down. 

This leads to getting sick more often, having trouble concentrating at work or school, and poor overall health. 

Awareness is key.

Now that you’re aware of how much rest can impact your day-to-day life, why not start prioritizing sleep right now? Like, go take a nap right now?

Plan

The best way to make sure you don’t overcommit is by planning ahead.

Be realistic with your schedule, and figure out which events, tasks, or appointments are truly essential. Put all of your nonessential obligations in a different color so you can easily spot them. That way, when you get swamped by incoming emails or requests from friends who need help with something, you can review your calendar quickly—and say no if it’s not part of your plan for that day.

Find Things To Be Grateful For

A lot of people find that gratitude can be a great practice for keeping stress in check. While it’s not an instant cure, studies show practicing appreciation can help you sleep better, lower your blood pressure and boost your immune system. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, spend some time journaling or meditating—or even just taking a short walk outside—to come up with things to be grateful for. 

The book, The Magic by Rhonda Byrne is a great book for working in a gratitude practice and making it a normal part of your daily routine.

But a great start is to write down all of your accomplishments daily or weekly, no matter how small they may seem to you, and keep them somewhere you can see them. Focus on them. Especially in times when you are being hard on yourself.

self care isn t selfish signage

It’s Time To Give Yourself a Break

Giving yourself a break is an important part of self-care. Taking a vacation or getting out of your everyday routine will help you relax, which leads to better health—mental and physical. If you don’t have time, even small breaks are beneficial. Turn off your phone when going out with friends, have an indoor picnic, or try something new such as ziplining or reading one book every month that has nothing to do with work.

Self-care is not selfish, it is essential. But if you’re too busy to do it, give yourself time off. Taking time off doesn’t mean quitting, it means knowing when to stop pushing and recognizing that your body can only go so far before you break down. By giving yourself a break, you will see your output rise and productivity increase as well as enjoy an overall sense of calm in your daily life. 

When you’re managing yourself and your own schedule, it can be hard to make time for self-care.  But what we often forget is that when you don’t take care of yourself, your output suffers and so does your productivity—not to mention overall happiness and fulfillment.

Taking time off isn’t easy, especially if you work in an industry that doesn’t allow it. Yet when you make sure to look after yourself, you come back refreshed—and better able to give your best at work. In fact, being able to stay calm in stressful situations can lead to better performance reviews or even promotions. Always take care of yourself first!

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I’m TaKenya

I HELP WOMEN succeed in life and business

Fueled by equal parts oat milk lattes and passion alike, I spend my days coaching, building things, researching, and figuring out ways to help women change the world while finding, understanding, and loving themselves and their unique individuality.   

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