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How to Effectively Switch Off When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

October 19, 2020

Person walking through a field

Switching off isn’t always easy. It can even feel impossible at times when our brains are in overdrive and we feel like there are a hundred tabs open. That’s often a sign that we have pushed ourselves beyond our limits and sliding into burnout territory. 

The reality is, we’re not machines. We all have limits we need to respect. We all need time to rest and recharge. 

When we don’t give our brains the chance to rest, there’s a tendency to feel wired, restless, overwhelmed and unable to switch off. 

The key to switching off is not waiting for the alarm bells to start ringing and for the feeling of restlessness to settle in. The key is proactively switching off, even when you don’twantto. 

Remember, practising self-care isn’t always about what you want to do. It’s about respecting the needs of your mind and body. When it comes to “switching off” it’s about building healthy habits and rituals that benefit you in the short-term and long-term. I’m sure we can think of a few wind down rituals that mightfeelgood in the short-term, but aren’t sustainable in the long-term. 

You might already know exactly how to switch off effectively, and it’s just a matter of committing to those strategies. For others, there might be a period of trial and error to uncover what initiates a state of rest. Stay patient, curious and willing to explore new ways to effectively switch off. 

Need some inspiration? 

Here are five helpful responses to inspire your wind down rituals.


How do you effectively “switch off” and “wind down” for the day when you’re feeling overwhelmed?  

Routine, routine, routine. This is what helps signal to my brain that I’m slowing down.

My routine currently involves:

  1. Telling Evie, our Therapy Dog, that it’s time to leave the studio!
  2. Driving home listening to a podcast or music that isn’t work-related
  3. Arriving home and jumping straight into the shower (I even have my pjs ready to go in the bathroom)
  4. Eat – I’m so often hungry when I get home so eating a prepped dinner is divine
  5. Debrief about our work days together, with my partner

By the end of the routine I am generally fairly sleepy and have switched off from my day.

When I notice that this routine isn’t as effective, it is a strong signal that I need time off and am potentially at the start of a slippery slope for burnout.

Amy Kate Isaacs, The Mindful Collective 


I’ve noticed recently that when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need minimal stimulation to rest my brain and shut down all the unnecessary tabs that are open. A 24 hour phone and social media detox is by far my favourite way to fully switch off and reset. It encourages me to be more present and it brings me back to my breath which is ultimately what helps calm my overactive mind. 

I’ll generally let the people who I frequently chat with know I’m doing a detox so they don’t expect an instant reply. Then, I’ll turn off my phone and hide it in my bedside table drawer out of sight. If I’m lacking self-control on that particular day, I’ll even get Tom to hide it for me. Telling a few people also keeps me accountable to the intention I’ve set. 

Alex Phillips, Saint Belford


I’ve found it really energising taking weekends off social media. This means that I’m not in my work brain as much, that I can be more present with those around me and take the time to just ‘be’ without being distracted all the time. It’s definitely a hard habit to break in the beginning as we often jump on without much thought and then get sucked into the vortex.

I let my community know when I’m jumping off for the week and I log out of my accounts and then move the apps so I don’t go on my phone and just tap them. I usually log back in later in the day on Sundays and from then I aim to spend no longer than 30 minutes on social media each day. 

Bridget Murphy, The Truest You 


I find what works for be is always different so I have a handful of go-to practices including breath work, energy activation, intuitive connection, acu-pressure mat and subconscious stress transformation that I turn to. In the moment I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I will check in and see what would feel best at the time. Sometimes it’s dropping into the body with one of the more physical practices and other times it’s transcending my mind by playing with energy activation or intuitive connection.

Elaine So, Time and Space Co 


I love to change my environment and spend time by myself to process my thoughts and feelings. I might go for a walk around the local lake, lie on the grass next to the river, or drink a cup of tea in the backyard. 

Something as simple as stepping away from my desk and changing my environment helps me disconnect from work. And, when I spend time around nature on my own, I can practice mindfulness, process my emotions, and tap into more clarity about what's important to me. 

Rachael Kable, The Mindful Kind