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Filling Your Well: A Guide to Self-Care and Emotional Exhaustion

Last week, I heard a friend of mine say, “even my burnout has burnout at this point.  Given the current demands of life, does this resonate with you?


As Susan Scott puts it, burnout usually happens not because we're trying to solve problems, but because we keep trying to solve the same problem repeatedly, all while feeling like we have no control over the situation. 

a water well located in a spa-like environment
How can self-care help fill your well?

Enter: Emotional Exhaustion.  


It's not uncommon to feel emotionally drained and disconnected from life, especially when we are struggling. Sometimes, we doubt our own abilities and feel like we have failed. Then our self talk sets in, really solidifying a mindset that isn’t serving us. 


If you are experiencing any of these feelings, it's important to recognize that you may need some extra care to help you cope. Acknowledging your struggle to yourself and to someone else can help you prioritize self-care and get the support you need.

Navigating the Depths: Self-Care and Emotional Exhaustion


It's okay to take things at your own pace and acknowledge where you're at both physically and emotionally. It's in these moments of vulnerability that the concept of self-care becomes not just a luxury but a vital necessity. It's important to keep things simple and realistic when it comes to setting your intentions.

Understanding Emotional Exhaustion:

Emotional exhaustion often sneaks into our lives, manifesting as a sense of overwhelm, fatigue, and a diminished ability to cope with daily stressors. Whether it's the demands of work, relationships, or life's unexpected curveballs, the toll on our emotional well-being can be profound. People experiencing emotional exhaustion use words like stuck, trapped, frustrated, and overwhelmed.  Sometimes those experiencing emotional exhaustion would benefit from the help of a mental-health professional, possibly coupled with the techniques, strategies and accountability offered by a coach. 

The Importance of Prioritizing Self-Care:

Self-care is not synonymous with indulgence; rather, it's a deliberate and compassionate act of tending to our physical, emotional, and mental needs. When faced with emotional exhaustion, prioritizing self-care becomes an act of resilience and self-preservation.  This is not massages and manicures, these are intentional and compassionate acts, we perform to nurture ourselves. Self-care can be in service of our physical well-being, emotional wellness, mental clarity, and social connection.  These are not life-hacks or 21-day challenges, this is resilience building in support of yourself.   

Discovering Significance in the Everyday:

The rapid pace of modern life, coupled with the challenges posed by various global events, has left many of us feeling adrift in a sea of disconnected moments.  As we navigate this shifting landscape, it becomes crucial to reflect on the importance of re-establishing genuine connections and rediscovering the beauty within the seemingly mundane aspects of our existence. The small, everyday moments that were once taken for granted now hold the potential to anchor us amidst the chaos, providing a sense of purpose and fulfillment.  As part of a process of reflection, create a list your top 3-5 priorities and consider that anything outside of this that is creating demands on your schedule doesn’t score. 

Practical Strategies for Self-Care

Establishing daily, weekly or monthly rituals that feel good become the best way to anchor you in the midst of life’s chaos. 

Maybe you can't manage your usual workout right now, but going for a short walk with a friend could be just as beneficial. In this way, you are moving your body, getting fresh air, and experiencing a social connection, all of which may feel deeply nourishing.


You might find that a simple mindfulness practice - even taking a moment to breathe deeply while you sip a cup of tea - is helpful.  Any practices that help centre your mind and provide a moment of respite during chaos are beneficial.  You do not need to become Yoda or enter a transcendental state to practice mindfulness.      Establishing boundaries can encompass both tangible elements and interpersonal relationships.  Recognize that it’s okay to prioritize your well-being and communicate your limits to others effectively.  Removing things from your daily routine helps reduce the overwhelm too.  The 24-hour news cycle, violent video games, negative people and gossip are not exactly the balm for the soul you may need right now.  Unplugging and recharging are necessary acts in this hyper-connected world.  Consider periods of digital fasting, where you take breaks from screens of all sorts to give your mind a break.  Focus on single tasking, doing one thing at a time, rather than multitasking. Quality sleep is a cornerstone of good health.  Create a sleep routine that allows for sufficient rest and notice the impact it has on your overall well-being.  And there's no shame in staying in your pajamas all day if that's what feels best!      


It's important to find joy in the little things, no matter how small they may seem. Consider keeping a daily list of things that bring you happiness, so that you can remember them when you're feeling down.  I keep a running note on my phone titled Success Stack where I keep a list of my wins – both personal and professional.  These are a potent reminder that so far, my track record for getting through tough times is 100%.  Celebrate all wins with gusto!

Rethinking our Relationship to Time and Productivity


But I don’t have time for self-care!  I hear this from clients all the time as they struggle to fit self-care into their daily routines.  I am a big advocate of jotting down a plan for your day, which can assist you in making and sticking to your commitments, being deliberate with your actions, and doubling down on prioritizing what truly matters to you. Putting your thoughts down on paper can be an effective way of aligning your thoughts with your feelings, which can aid in executing your plans and actions. For this task, it is better to switch off your digital calendar and use a pen and paper instead.

Establishing a routine can be comforting. Simple tasks like getting dressed, making meals, watering plants, and enjoying a cup of coffee can all contribute to a sense of normalcy. Start by scheduling these tasks in your calendar and build from there.  I call my morning routine “Morning Magic” and included in this container of time is my journaling practice, a cup of coffee, breakfast, taking my vitamins, and my morning meditation.  Having this time in the morning is soul-filling, but it is also a way to experience a win first thing.  Not only do I feel better for having engaged in the practice, but I’ve already experienced self-care success – before 8:30 am.  Continue to build out your days, weeks and months in a paper planner (check out the options from myLife).  Do you feel better when you get outside every day? Make sure you add that to your schedule. Does connecting with a particular friend or group of people make you feel more inspired? Schedule a weekly call or monthly brunch with them. Add things that feel meaningful to you - whether they are little things, manageable things, purposeful things, or frivolous things. The key is to create a routine that works for you and brings you joy. If you have hobbies or activities you would like to pursue, schedule time every day to read, create, or explore one of your passions. Have you been working on a project or wanting to try something new? Even making small progress toward a goal can be very rewarding. For example, if you've taken up knitting, you may want to commit to knitting five rows a day, or if you want to read more, set aside ten minutes each night to do so. Revisit something you used to do as a child – drawing, colouring, dancing, bike rides. Keep your goals simple yet enjoyable! Remember to schedule rest and sleep.  This includes your actual bedtime, some downtime on the weekend, maybe a daily nap and one of my favourites on my calendar – a do nothing day.  This day gets blocked off in my calendar and I decline all invites/chores/errands in favour of a day to do things that feel restful and nourishing.  It’s not exactly a do-nothing day, it’s more of a day just for me and my little family.    

Embrace Your Best Efforts and Chart a Path to Success


Practical steps can be taken to align your actions with your aspirations. As you take these first steps on your self-care journey, let self-compassion be your guiding light. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, recognizing that the pursuit of well-being is a marathon, not a sprint. By fostering a supportive relationship with yourself, you pave the way for a fulfilling and successful future.It's during these moments that we need to pause, take a breath, and acknowledge a fundamental truth: you are doing the best you can.


In the journey of life, emotional exhaustion is a common challenge, but it doesn't have to define our experience. By prioritizing self-care, we equip ourselves with the tools needed to navigate the complexities of our emotions. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury—it is an essential investment in your overall well-being.

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