Are you Burned Out? Tips to Tackle Bandwidth Fatigue & Recharge your Body’s Batteries


How many times have you said to yourself after an afternoon chasing the grandkids around, “I’m exhausted. I just don’t have the same energy I used to have. I’m getting too old for this.” As much as you may love those grands, we get more fatigued as we age and start to slow down, for some a lot and others not as much.

The same goes for our workloads, whether paid or volunteer. We find ourselves muttering when we’re tackling yet another demanding project. Our brain begins to talk to us, “You’re crazy! What are you doing this for at your age?”

As we’re experiencing energy burndown and even burnout, our commitments, however, may continue to ramp up. We are called upon to take care of a sick partner or parent, while maybe still working even part-time. Simultaneously, we may do volunteer work to give back to our community or be available to listen to our friends and families’ issues that can swing from minor to tragic when they need a sympathetic ear. We get winded just listing so many activities and obligations.

Let’s not forget, we also need to take care of ourselves. When we find we’re unusually tired, even depressed, not sleeping, we also wonder if we’re simply burned out. Is it a lack of patience? Is this burnout stress related? It's important that when under stress, which is extremely dangerous to both mental and physical health, we stop and do a self-check. So, we try relaxation and meditation techniques, some do Yoga or Tai Chi; exercise, run, walk, eat well, read a fun book or magazine, and just generally try to recharge our bodies’ physical and mental batteries.

At the same time, we’re concerned about staying healthy, fear what will happen if we get sick or break a bone, who will take care of us. We worry about having enough money on which to live, today’s high costs and inflation, finding the best place to live during our final years and, at the same time, processing all the dangers in the world over which we have no control that threaten our future and the future of our progeny.

We only have so much emotional and physical bandwidth. To avoid bandwidth burnout, here are some tips, many of which are similar to those stated in a former blog, “Experiencing Bandwidth Burnout? Why we may have less energy to care for others” (Dec. 2022). We think rethinking this challenge and coming up with new solutions is very worthwhile. In a nutshell, bandwidth is defined as “the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.” We are constantly seeking ways to expand it so it gives us maximum health and happiness and less aggravation. Here’s what we’re doing, which may help you!.

Prioritize. Make a lifestyle spreadsheet and then plug in what you must do daily, weekly, monthly in order of importance and who’s most important i.e. your partner and children/grandchildren, parents or very ill sibling or best friend. Leave room for extras—maybe a painting or cooking class you’ve been dying to take or for an emergency or other situation that might spring up. Don’t know how to do a spreadsheet? Don’t add to your woes. Make an old-fashioned handwritten or new computer-generated list. Periodically adjust it as you tick off items and add new ones.

Set strong boundaries to preserve energy, if you’re operating on fumes. If your kids expect you to watch their children, state specifically the best times, days and for how long. If a friend needs a sympathetic ear, have a time limit if on the phone or a Zoom. If in person, say up front, "I only have 30 minutes to meet and listen." Explain honestly, "I have a lot on my plate. I'll be more open at another time." If you can’t do something, say so immediately and without regrets or much guilt.. 

Keep up your spirits and good health. Sleep, eat, exercise, walk, read, watch movies or TV, take classes. Eat certain foods that calm you down such as various teas, asparagus, avocado, blueberries, milk, almonds, oranges, salmon, spinach, dark chocolate. Curtail or avoid too much coffee or wine. 

Don't get mired in someone else's stuff. It’s easy to do. Listen politely. Don't think you have to give suggestions or solve their problems. That really zaps your energy. Most likely, the other person doesn't want your advice. Listen, learn, explain your interest and caring but then have a cut off time. As a therapist once told Barbara when she was involved with a narcissist, “Don’t step into other people’s sh--.” Hard to do, but after the first time, it becomes easier and eventually a breeze! 

Whether working, cleaning or just sitting, make it more pleasurable. Listen to soothing music. It can be a head cleanser; something to reset and recharge our brains so we can take care of our own business at hand.  

Take five or 10 minutes and try meditation or mindfulness to feel refreshed. Maybe practice this skill while riding the subway to work or flying on an airplane. There are apps for this to help with the process. Barbara likes "Calm." 

Breathe deeply. Take a deep breath from your diaphragm and let it out in four to eight counts. Repeat four times. It's a technique to calm you down and allow you to press your body’s refresh button. 

Find humor in a situation, if appropriate. As the cliché goes: laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps you’re listening to a good friend complain about memory issues. "I can never remember where I put anything." You've heard her say this dozens of times. So, create a visual of her crawling under beds and tables on the floor when looking for lost items. There are lots of jokes you can make about hearing issues –“What’d you say?” We’ve all had to ask this from time to time.

Try to manage your time better. Listening to someone complain on the phone takes up a big chunk of your time and day. Set a timer, if you can, but make sure the other person can’t hear it. Then politely say, “I wish I had more time, but I have to meet a deadline. Or--here a white lie is okay, we think: “The other phone is ringing. Have to go.”

Take a break when tired of making dinner every night after a day of watching the grandkids or working hard. Go out or order takeout and have it deliveredYou deserve a break from a tedious routine. Also, while waiting for takeout, you can perhaps practice your singing for an upcoming concert or finish an article or other assignment.

Monitor your moods and words to be kinder and more respectful. If you’re getting crabby and even bossy—yes, you!, pull back, apologize and try to be your better self. It may be hard but just being aware that you’re spread too thin and taking it out on others can do wonders for yourself and your relationships. Time for more humor too. Admit out loud, “I’m a jerk!” You’ll feel better inside.

We can gain control over bandwidth burnout, but it takes time, commitment and practice. In doing so, we'll be able to accomplish more for ourselves and for those who need us most. It means we'll be happier, easier to be around, help others more and probably live healthier, longer and more fulfilled lives.


  • Audrey Steuer

    This is a wonderful article with excellent tips. We should all try to follow them, even though we have to admit that it’s not always easy!

  • Mary Lou

    Such good suggestions…we all need to be reminded!

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