6 ways to comfort someone who's feeling burnt out
Burnout is real and often not recognized until you’re already feeling burnt out. It’s rough out there. Balancing remote work with kiddos, days you need to home school, communicating with co-workers behind screens, taking care of parents, and who’s going to do all these chores?!
It leaves us feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, irritable, cynical, and hopelessly over it. We suspect it happens to women more.
Here are some ways to comfort and help women who are burnt out heal and recover.
☑ If you see someone struggling, say something.
Providing a listening ear is the number one thing you can do to help someone who seems to be struggling. Reach out and let them know you’re there if they need to talk.
Often, they’re not ready. They may not realize it’s happening and don’t want feedback. Let them know you’re there if/when they’re ready, and listen without judgment. The last thing she needs is more people judging her.
☑ Ask how you can help.
Be prepared with a list of ways you can help. You can drop dinner off, walk the dog on weekends, or take her list of errands and get them done.
Or sign up to take a task off their plate. “I’m going to take your kiddos this weekend. We’ll get pizza and watch movies.” So she can get some sleep, zone out and watch Netflix, or do whatever she wants.
The women that get burnt out are often the ones that don’t ask for help. Stepping forward and helping can help them realize that they CAN ask for help, and some people are capable of supporting.
☑ Remain patient and validate her feelings.
Sometimes women who are burnt out have tried to ask for help. They may have gone to peers, managers, family that dismissed their feelings. Which only makes them feel more burnt out and reluctant to seek help.
It may take some time for someone to realize they need to talk to someone.
When she does, validate her feelings. “That’s a lot to deal with. Tell me more. I’d feel the same way. It sounds like you’re feeling ________.”
Often, women that have burnout feel underappreciated—like no one cares about all the work they’re doing. Just saying, “You’re doing so much right now,” may help them feel validated.
☑ It’s not a time to give advice unless you're asked.
Burnout is a delicate situation. She’s already feeling the weight of the world; she really doesn’t need one more opinion. She’s not talking to you to be fixed. Just lending an ear is helpful.
If she does ask for advice and you’ve been there, you can let her know what worked for you. Or if you haven’t been burnt out, you may encourage her to find someone that can help—a counselor, maybe her employer has an employee assistance program, another friend that’s been through this.
☑ Encourage them to put themselves first.
The airplane rule of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others holds true here. We have to take care of ourselves first before adequately caring for others.
And women that are burnt out are likely putting everyone (coworkers, bosses, kids, partners, family members, whoever!) before themselves.
It takes time to set the basics right—getting sleep, eating properly, getting some activity in. Encourage her to focus on these fundamentals (as they work best for her) as part of healing.
☑ Extend small acts of kindness.
Little things add up. Send a text telling her you’re thinking about her and love her. (Here are some more text ideas.) Send her a hug comfort kit. Pick up the tab for coffee. Send her a card with a caring message. Call and ask to speak to her kids so she can have a moment.
We all need to take care of each other. Helping the women in your life through tough times is what we do best.
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