Harriette Cole: I’m on the road to burnout and I can’t see a solution

Posted on November 20, 2023

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a very busy couple of weeks coming up. I have my last round of midterms, Thanksgiving break, finals, moving back home, Christmas, visiting family, then New Year’s.

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I am looking forward to getting to see family and friends and going back home for a while, but I started thinking about how much work and travel I am going to be doing until January, and it completely stressed me out.

I do not want to cut anything from my schedule, but I am worried that I am going to burn out and not do my best or have the right attitude. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to become a recluse, and I have way too many things to do and exciting events in the future to do that.

Do you have any tips on how to handle stress with a full plate? How do you manage a busy life effectively?

— Busy Stress

DEAR BUSY STRESS: First, step back and review your upcoming schedule. Can you eliminate anything?

Yes, there are other people involved, but if there’s a chance you don’t have to do every single thing on your list, consider cutting something out.

Build in time for rest and quiet. Plan not to stay up all night every night. Schedule evenings in when you give yourself permission to do little to nothing — literally.

Build in downtime when you will play music, meditate, drink tea or nap. Eat as well as you can so that you keep up healthy habits. Be willing to say no when you need to pause.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been taking a mental health break from many social media platforms.

The content on my feed had become very superficial and a waste of time. I could not afford to be distracted by my phone as much, so I cut out a lot of time.

However, I realized that in the process, I lost contact with a lot of people. Except with my closest friends from home and college, I do not text often. I used Snapchat primarily for communication, and with my reduced time on the app, the number of people I talk to has been cut in half.

I do not know what to think of it because I am sure it may appear that I am ignoring most of these people. However, if they truly wanted to maintain contact with me, it would not be hard to find other ways to do so. Many of the people I did not even think about until I opened the app again.

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Do you think it is worth it to maintain superficial online friendships?

— Superficial Friends

DEAR SUPERFICIAL FRIENDS: My mother used to say that you are lucky if your true friends add up to no more than the five fingers on one hand. You do not need a bevy of social media “friends.”

It’s fine if you hear from those peripheral people on occasion, but it’s also absolutely fine if you never hear from them again. Rather than working to build back that collective of social contacts, fill your time with meaningful activities — hobbies, time spent with family and actual friends, time alone, etc.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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