Overwhelmed, Exhausted, Burned Out, and 3 Ways You Can Take Back Control
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Full disclosure to start this post...this is not advice from some expert who has everything figured out. This is simply a look into a very difficult time in my life, some ways I dealt with anxiety, and some of the lessons I have learned from feeling overwhelmed. This is probably the most difficult blog post I have written because I am not a huge fan of public examination of my weaknesses and shortcomings.
It is one thing to focus on other people's symptoms but an entirely different thing to focus on your own and bring that into a public light. The thought of dealing with comments from voices online accusing me of A) trying to pat myself on the back for how brave I was or B) being too weak to ever offer advice to people struggling with their own feelings makes it even more difficult. But if this post helps one person manage their own challenges or better address feeling overwhelmed, it will, without a doubt, be worth it.
As my film-loving brother-in-law would say, "I'm going to go full Quentin Tarantino on you here and start at the end...and then rewind to the beginning." After months of meeting with my mental health therapist, I asked her to listen to one of my podcast episodes and tell me what she thought. Her reply at the next session was, "you sound like a confident person who has everything figured out. It was really well done." That made me feel fake. That made me feel like a fraud. I wasn't feeling confident in that moment and I certainly didn't have everything figured out. Here is the real story.
I had known for a few years that I wanted to make the leap from teacher and coach to full-time mental performance coach, but financially Carmen and I just didn't feel like it was the right decision. Then, during the summer of 2021 our family went through some major life changes that included (in no particular order):
Deciding this would be my last year as a teacher
8-month timeline to be full-time in mental performance coaching
Selling our home
Selling an investment property
Purchasing a 24-acre compound with some of my extended family
Parceling off our own 7 acres to build a house on, and deciding I would be our general contractor so we could build the house ourselves
Moving 3 families into one house while 2 new houses were built on the compound
Obtaining my real estate license and joining the Wilson Team to help not only Carmen and I work toward our own real estate goals but also to help friends and family do the same
Still coaching high school football and high school golf
My wife totaled her car with my oldest daughter in it
Finding out my wife was pregnant with our 4th child
And for about 5 months, everything was going amazingly well, and we were excited about these wonderful changes in the not-too-distant future for our family. It was difficult, but with the help of my amazing wife, we were able to navigate our way through this challenging season.
And then January hit.
To make a long story short, I left school early and went to the ER, thinking this was a medical emergency. It turned out to be high blood pressure and a panic attack, certainly not great news, but better than it could have been. I always knew there was a tie between mental and physical health, but this was different. I had reached my physical limit. My mind and body could not continue on the trajectory I was headed. I will never forget the look on the nurse's face when she asked if I was under any sort of pressure, and I began to explain my...
life. Things had to change.
It took me 2 months to get into a mental health therapist. During that time, I was able to reduce some stress, start exercising again, and got off my blood pressure meds from my trip to the ER. While I had addressed some physical symptoms, I knew there was still more that needed to be done. I had to overcome these negative feelings rolling around in my mind. I needed a way to deal with these overwhelming thoughts. I still sometimes had difficulty concentrating, even after using deep breathing exercises or other coping strategies. My psychological stress was still causing physical symptoms. While I no longer needed immediate help, I still knew I needed to make significant changes to prevent falling right back into that trap of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.
I attended the Global Leadership Summit this year, where I head one of my favorite quotes about feeling overwhelmed from Craig Groeschel:
I didn't realize it at the time, but these were essentially some of the steps I needed to take.
1) You Feel Overwhelmed Because You're Doing Too Much
Looking back on it now, this is simple. But at the moment, I didn't see any issue with what I had committed to. I was so caught up in the next task that I missed the feelings of being overwhelmed, fatigued, stressed, and being ready to break. I had been slowly adding more, and more, and more, and more responsibilities and tasks onto my plate until it was so full that I reached a breaking point. I took some steps, I told people who I loved and cared about, no I can't do that right now.
Backed away from coaching golf: Still helped out my colleague and friend with the program but focused on helping them with just the mental side of the game
Put my real estate aspirations on hold until the summer: I still built relationships but didn't actively seek new clients
I quit social media: I still had my accounts but didn't spend time on them nightly
I quit the podcast: I was actually ready just to throw in the towel last January and my wife talked me into just taking some time away (glad I listened)
I quit the blog: I didn't delete it, just paused new content
I quit promoting my mental coaching program: I still met with existing clients but did not seek out new clients
I delegated some of the things that needed to be done at the house and hired contractors for work we were planning on doing ourselves: which did not save us money but saved me some stress and work
I asked for some help from friends and family: which is naturally difficult for me to do
I accepted some help and support from friends and family members: which took some humility
Something I realized after giving up those things was how much more effective I was at what was left on my plate. AND, I have still been able to come back to those things at a later time. When I wasn't constantly feeling overwhelmed, I could pick back up where I left off in a much more refreshed state. Another thing I realized was the absolute amazing power of friends and family. I don't think most of the people who helped Carmen and I during that time really knew how huge of an impact they were having on our lives.