line drawing of an atom

8 Things to Do When You Have to Power Through at Work


Let’s talk about things that might help when you are mentally tapped out … but have to keep working.

First of all, I hope this is a rare scenario for you. I hope that normally you are able to stop working when you hit a wall. Or better yet, well before you hit the wall.

I acknowledge that sometimes we all need to keep going for a few more hours, even though our energy is zapped.

Perhaps we choose not to stop in order to complete something time sensitive. Or it could be that an important window of opportunity is closing. Maybe you’ve gotta keep going to get through a critical meeting that would be a nightmare to reschedule.

How do you keep going when you literally can’t hold a coherent thought in your brain because you are either physically tired or mentally fried?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any magic fixes to make you feel amazing, but here are a few things that can give you a temporary lift.

8 Boosts for When You Are Powering Through

Close your eyes for 2 to 5 minutes.

Reduce the amount of sensory input coming into your brain for a bit and close your eyes. Stay sitting up if you think there is a chance you’ll fall asleep. It can feel nice to rub your hands together to build up some heat and then to cup your hands gently over your eyes, too.

Chug a glass of water.

You’re probably a bit dehydrated and that exacerbates a low-energy situation. I don’t care if you’ve been drinking something else – drink some water. And drink a whole glass before you move on, so it actually gets done.

Take a 5-minute walk.

Bonus points if you can get outside to do it but wandering around indoors will also suffice. Absolutely put your phone away and just walk.

Eat a small, nutritive snack with both quick burning and slow burning carbs.

A great example would be a piece of fresh fruit or handful of dried fruit (quick hit of energy) and some whole-grain granola with nuts (slower release of energy). Just watch the amount of added sugars and skip anything with zero- or low-calorie sweeteners.

Do the smallest bit of work possible.

Break up your work into tiny tasks and focus on just doing one of them. Then stand up and take a 15-second full body stretch. Then do another task. Rinse and repeat.

Sip on hibiscus tea.

When you’re stressed, your body creates free radicals as a byproduct of the normal stress response. Left unchecked, free radicals damage your healthy cells. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and should be a regular part of your stress management routine. Hibiscus tea is PACKED with antioxidants. It’s also got some additional health benefits.

Reset your nervous system.

It only takes a few breaths to help your nervous system to reset back to its healthy, calm state. “Box” breathing is an easy option. It’s got four parts - you’ll inhale, hold your breath, exhale, and hold the emptiness, then inhale and repeat the cycle. Try doing 3 rounds, where each section of the box takes 4 counts. Try doing a breathing reset every half hour.

Avoid social media, apps, and other stimulating distractors.

It’s tempting to grab your phone to take a quick break from your work, but don’t. The last thing your brain needs is more input. No news, no messaging (unless you are incredibly purposeful – like telling your spouse you’ll be late), no social media, no streaming shows, etc.

No single thing in the list above will likely be enough so try them all. Do them all. Mix and match what you do in any given 1-hour block.

Plan ahead and buy some hibiscus tea, dried fruit, and granola to stock in your desk.

>>> Free Download

a mockup of the pages from the workbook

Sign up to receive your free copy of Purpose. Presence. Power. A daily practice to help you stay connected.

The 6-minute guided practice audio file and companion workbook are waiting for you.

Follow Burnout Proof on social media.

the Instagram logo, an outline of a camera the TikTok logo, a musical note