Business, Health + Wellness

What To Do When You’re Overworked & Overwhelmed

July 29, 2015
emily hein overworked overwhelmed

Today’s post is from Emily Hein, private practice dietitian and food/wellness blogger at Zen and Spice. She’s one of my favorite wellness bloggers to follow and has great advice on living a balanced life.


Our lives are so rushed. We’re trying to get a list of tasks done, and finish as much as we can each day, speeding along in our lives to our next destination. We rush what we need to do there so we can move to the next. We’re overwhelmed by what feels like non-stop, never ending demands and to-do lists. Our smartphones keep us always connected with work demands.

At the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Our minds are over-stressed from the busyness. We don’t have time for what’s important to us, what we really want to be doing, and for spending time with our loved ones. But we don’t have to live like this. We can enjoy a simpler life; we only need to choose to. That’s what mindfulness is about. Being mindful of what we are doing in the present moment, taking our time, and only thinking about what can be done in the present moment.

Meditation and mindfulness helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us “rest and digest”—opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, which is associated with the fight or flight response. We may not be running from a wooly mammoth, but stress from work and home life creates the same type of response in our bodies.

Here are some questions to ask yourself the next time you feel stressed about a big “to-do” list. If you don’t have enough time in your day to take care of yourself, it may be time to eliminate some things so you can.

What’s really important?

It may be your family, a spouse, children, doing well at your job, blogging three times per week, or running a ten minute mile. Step back and look at what’s really important to you. What do you really want to be doing? Are you being you? Or are you doing things you think you should be doing? Make a list of things that are truly important to you. Then do them.

What are your true commitments?

We have too many commitments in today’s world. We can’t do everything that we say we’re going to do. Just accept this. Do what’s important to you and eliminate what isn’t.

Do you have enough time to take care of yourself?

If you don’t have time in your schedule to cook yourself a balanced meal, incorporate physical activity, relax or meditate, then you’re doing too much. It’s not worth being insanely busy if your body and mind take a hit. If your body and mind aren’t functioning at their best, it will be hard to put your best self forward. You don’t have to go to the gym every day, but just focusing on moving more throughout the day can make a huge difference. Meal planning and grocery shopping ahead of time can help you eat healthy during busy weeks.

How much are you trying to do per day?

We only have twenty four hours in a day. Don’t fill up your day with tasks. If you try to do ten tasks per day (and fail), do three important ones instead. Save the others for the next day. Complete your three tasks with mindfulness and don’t try to rush through them.

What can you eliminate?

Simplify your to-do list down to the essentials. Again, you can’t do everything. Even if you could, more things will probably pop up. Do you really need to cook dinner, fold laundry, write a blog post, sweep the floor and do the dishes in the next two hours? What can you save for later or tomorrow? What can you delegate to others?

With that said, slow down and enjoy every task. Whatever you’re doing, do it with a sense of calm. Whether it be taking a shower, cooking dinner, or driving. Just slow down. You do not need to complete this task at record speed. Pay attention, instead of thinking about other things. Be in the moment. It sounds silly to “be in the moment” while you’re brushing your teeth, but this is the simplest step you can take to become more mindful in your life.

Have you simplified your life? What have you cut out? What do you slow down and pay attention to?

About Emily

emily heinEmily Hein is a private practice dietitian and food/wellness blogger based out of Dallas, Texas. She thinks eating should be easy and pleasurable– not a hassle! On her blog you’ll find easy recipes using natural ingredients, intuitive eating advice, and meditation & mindfulness tips. She aims to inspire her clients and readers to fuel their body with real, unprocessed food and live for mindfully and in the present moment.

Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

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  • dixya | food, pleasure, and health July 29, 2015 at 11:05 am

    thank you for sharing these tips because we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves and forget about the priorities. great reminder

    • Emily @ Zen & Spice August 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Self care is so important! Sometimes we think about “health” as nutrition for fitness. But mental health is also very important!

  • Emily @ Zen & Spice July 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for allowing me to guest post today! Looking forward to meeting your readers!

  • Jessica @ Nutritioulicious July 29, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Reading this as I’m sitting on the couch with my husband watching TV. On the one hand, I should be enjoying the time with him; on the other, if I didn’t read this now I would have missed this important post. And therein lies the problem!! Great tips as usual from Emily!

    • Emily @ Zen & Spice August 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Haha that made me laugh, Jessica 🙂 We have to find that balance!

  • Daniela, The Acne Whisperer July 30, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Fantastic, beautiful and wonderfully helpful post ! 🙂
    I have my share of stress from suddenly working alone in my business after incurring a hefty debt from having to move both my skincare salon and my apartment. But I’m in a better place right now and I look out the window and remember this every day. 🙂

    I have some input of my own about stress and juggling responsibilities, if I may. When the economy imploded back in 2008, I was doing a whole lot of waxing appointments, as my brazilian wax prices were a little lower than others’, and my facials were good, but not doing as well. People knew I had a focus on acne, but they never really did anything about that. All of a sudden, I got INUNdated with requests for acne facials, picking up at an even faster pace in 2009 and into 2010.

    Two things I noticed when talking to everyone who came to me to clear their acne: 1) not one of them was out of a job and 2) all of them had either never broken out before or never this bad. Every one of them was in the corporate world doing the jobs of more than one person, with supervisors and managers who had very little managerial experience. This is in Chicago, by the way – a very corporate town.

    It started to occur to me that stress was only half the story. The other half was the particular *type* of stress these women were suffering from. I came up with a theory about why they were breaking out so much, why now, and why not with the stress they had in their jobs before. I call it Corporate Acne. This is acne that comes from sudden adrenaline rushes when dealing with the kind of stress that happens when you want to flee or fight but you can’t, lest you lose your job. I wrote all about it in a four-part series for my own blog :), if you’re interested in having a look.
    (this is actually part 3)

    • Emily @ Zen & Spice August 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Thanks for sharing! Stress plays such a huge roll in our lives— and we don’t often think about how much it affects our skin!

  • She Rocks Fitness August 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I have found lately that when I step away from my phone more and more it is so refreshing and peaceful. I spend way too much time on it, mainly for work reasons. Taking my dog for long walks and leaving my phone at home is the best way for me to disconnect. I enjoy every minute.

    • Dzeigler August 4, 2015 at 8:18 am

      I agree and have been doing the same! I’ve started “no-work weekends” and am trying to lessen the time on my phone.

    • Emily @ Zen & Spice August 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      I try to designate certain times of the day to put my phone down too. I leave it at home during walks with the dog too!

  • Lynne August 14, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Meditation and mindfulness may be just what one needs…keep it simple! Really great formula!