Overcoming Work Overwhelm

An enchanted forest captured by my dear friend, Anna.

Sometimes, I feel like I am up to my eyeballs in bullshit. I’ve been using the bs word a lot around here lately; I hope that’s okay. I suppose that I just don’t see the point in sugar-coating anything here. There’s just so much sugar-coating that goes on already: bending to the will of unreasonable clients, playing nice around acquaintances, and holding our tongues when others cross our lines . . . that’s a tall order of bullshit to handle. And when it all really starts to hit the fan, I mentally check out. I fantasize that I am walking through an enchanted forest, my only thoughts being about the colors of the leaves on the trees, the sunlight pouring down on me, deep, relaxing breaths . . . and then my phone rings. “Fuck me,” I hear myself say, and I am back to reality.

On the days that I awake already looking forward to the evening, I know that it’s time to take a break. But because work had been so demanding leading up to the day off, my mind is still in overdrive when I am supposed to be doing anything but thinking about work. My work hangs over my head, haunting the back of my mind. So, of course I feel burnt-out! I never get a mental break from work when I waste my off time obsessing over it.

I think the fear, and therefore the fuel to the obsession, is that when I am off, I am no longer in control. Either someone else is in control or it is left undone. Both of these things intimidate me. I work in an industry in which my job is to put out fires, appease clients, and keep things moving along well. Those aforementioned “fires” continuously thwart my efforts to keep things under control. Knowing that I won’t be there to extinguish the fires, whether big or small, my anxiety rises. On Sunday evenings I wonder what kind of fresh hell the new week might bring.

I feel like the capacity to still do well under all of this pressure is simply unattainable. But what choice do I have? In regards to my job, I do have to do it all and do it all well. I do not have the power to eliminate the times in which there are too many people asking too much from me at once. That would be lovely, but unfortunately this is not an option in my industry. With my job, and probably yours too, it is what it is. Sometimes the workload is just too much, and we wait hopefully for the day that it calms back down.

Still, even though work can be super stressful, we still have a life apart from it to live and enjoy. If the work week has been extra rough, I like to pretend on Friday evening that I have just handed in my notice and now I am off the hook, nothing at the job matters because I don’t work there anymore (hah). It’s a fun trick that, if nothing else, makes me laugh. It’s also an easy way to show myself that the stress I feel is all just perspective: I can choose to care about it, or not.

Knowing that I can choose to care or not, I would like to become better at compartmentalizing my work and personal life. My work consistently bleeds into my personal life. But my personal life doesn’t bleed into my work life so I know that I am capable of compartmentalizing. I think I need to get my priorities in order and implement a strong boundary of work stays at work.

As my mother has said many times, “you need to let that shit go.” Cheers to the weekend, friends!

4 thoughts on “Overcoming Work Overwhelm

  1. My first question, is the stress worse since you are working from home? To me it seems a person working from home never leaves their job, therefore you don’t get to leave the daily stresses at the office:(
    How are others coping with WFH at your office? It might be a question you could speak with a supervisor about and start a support group.
    Life is too short to feel so much stress and anxiety on a daily basis!!
    P.S. Love Anna’s enchanted forest picture!


  2. Yes, Anna’s enchanted forest picture is lovely & draws you in. I so agree with Pam that asking co-workers if they are feeling the same & how a group could be so supportive. One group I attend is Covid Anxiety. The program covers, covid concerns, new stresses, risks, working from home, out of a job or work on hold, family & friend dynamics, shared coping skills & discussions. I was hesitant at first but having relatability, techniques people have used to cope & support have been helpful & enlightening. Your blog offers realness and awareness. Thank You😊


  3. Aww thanks so much for using the pic – that was such a cool moment out in the woods! 🙂

    This is super relatable to me, and I’ve struggled with this for as long as I’ve been in the working world. The good news is this has actually gotten a lot easier for me since I started working from home!

    I know this isn’t the case for everyone and depends on so many factors (including personality – I’m an introvert and find it much easier to set boundaries when I’m working from home!)

    For me, being able to step away from my computer and take my breaks AT HOME instead of at the office where someone can still find me and talk about work has been a game-changer. I hope I have the option to continue WFH as much as possible, even when covid is under control.

    Thanks for always sharing your perspective in such a genuine and relatable way! ❤


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