More often than not, the pressure to achieve can also cost your sense of calm, wellbeing, or health on the way to success. It doesn’t have to be this way! You can practice ways to enjoy relieve stress while still being an overachiever.

Are people often saying, “I don’t know how you do it all!” Then, you may be an overachiever.

The idea of being an overachiever is generally a positive one. You are a person who achieves great things, has high standards, and pushes the envelopes of success!

However, overachieving can also lead to some more destructive patterns and potentially, major stress and burnout.

As a result-oriented and success-driven person, it may feel hard to slow down. With the added pressure of expected greatness, you may find yourself addicted to doing, glorifying being busy, and dissociating with your own needs within your human body.

Are you playing the role of the biggest critic in your life? Feeling like you need to achieve in order to feel “good enough” may have you feeling bad about yourself.

You might find yourself thinking, “I have to be the best and if I can’t be great, I might as well not try.” You may also experience a bit of restlessness and frustration that the rest of the world can’t keep up with you.

This is all so stressful! Pressure like this can lead to burnout and major health conditions caused by the overflow of cortisol.

Overachieving Gone Wrong

I was a lifelong overachiever and perfectionist… Something I have been working to step away from or at least tone down in recent years.

As a student, I was in honor classes and nearly part of every club I could join, usually in a leadership role. In my “free time,” I was working part-time jobs, taking extra classes to graduate early, and running as body president. Because, why not?

I had a lot of pressure on myself to be all I could be and to prove my worthiness to everyone else through my achievement.

That pressure, while looking polished on the outside, also led to some of my darkest addictions – drugs, alcohol, and workaholism. It was my way of coping with the high stress I placed on myself.

Somewhere along the way, I hit a breaking point. I had to go through the painful experience of dismantling the beliefs that had pushed me into the overachieving mindset, to begin with.

This is how I learned to reduce the stress of overachieving.

How to Reduce Stress as an Overachiever

Don’t worry – I don’t think you need to give up your big ambitions in order to enjoy less stress in your life.

I do, however, encourage you to take a deeper look at the six practices below and be curious about the ways you can implement these into your current habits.

It’s possible to achive success and feel at ease when you follow these steps.

Schedule Your Down Time

As an overachiever, you probably have an addiction to doing. No judgment! That was me for a long time too.

One of the ways you can prioritize rest or play is by scheduling it into your calendar. This is especially useful if you keep a strict routine, like to live by your calendar or enjoy a checklist. Do you get a happy buzz when you check something off your list? Me too! We can use that to our advantage here.

There are two things to schedule into your life:

  • Guilt-Free Rest time – This is any type of activity that allows you to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. It may also be the art of doing nothing. The most important element is to enjoy guilt-free rest time.
  • Purpose-Free Playtime – What do you like doing for fun? Sometimes, as an overachiever, you can get caught up in the need for everything to have a purpose. Fun isn’t purposeful – it’s purely about enjoyment. Allow the enjoyment to be enough.

Prioritizing your need for unproductive, chill time will help you to feel more at ease and less tense.

Stop the Overachiever Comparisons to Relieve Stress

One of the ways to keep yourself stressed is with the pressure of comparison. When you are looking around at what everyone else is going through or the timeline of their success, it’s easy to point out where you fall short.

Remember, as an over-achiever, you may also be your worst critic. Furthermore, timelines and the “shoulds” of success are often arbitrary or made up based on one’s perception.

If you feel a lot of pressure to compare yourself to others, find stories about people who found their happiness in other terms or had success much later in life. If possible, release comparison entirely! But I know that can be easier said than done.

Feel super attached to your goals and timelines? Listen to this podcast episode of Embracing Human.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Do you ever complete a goal and immediately think, “okay, cool. What’s next?”

Perhaps, you move so quickly into the next task or mission that you don’t stop to celebrate all the great work you’ve done so far. One of the ways you can release pressure on yourself is by celebrating your accomplishments along the way.

Small accomplishments qualify! Celebrate it all.

You can also spend time reflecting on everything you’ve already accomplished. Think back – what have you accomplished in the last day? Week? Year? 5 years? Decade? Write it all down and take a moment to enjoy pride in all you’ve done.

Practice Non-Judgmental Witnessing

Being in the energy of overachieving can often lead to other exhausting patterns. You may find yourself down a path of workaholism, perfectionism, self-criticism, or judgment for yourself and others.

One of the ways to release the pattern is simply bringing some awareness to it, without more judgment. Recognizing a pattern may be the first step in releasing the habits that are keeping you in an energy of stress.

The most important thing to remember is non-judgment.

When you witness patterns, like working until midnight all week or beating yourself up over not doing enough, you can do so without feeling bad about it. In a neutral tone, just point out what’s going on in a discerning manner. A neutral statement would be, “my perfectionism is holding back my progress and is causing me to overwork myself,” rather than the judgmental witness which may be, “god. Why can’t I get ahold of this perfectionism? I have no discipline and it’s causing me burnout.”

Witness the patterns with kindness.

Attend to Your Needs

When in hyper-achieving mode, it can be difficult to honor self-care. You are either moving too quickly to make space for it or you create an overwhelming “self-care checklist” that may just leave you feeling like you have even more to do (yes, I’m speaking from experience).

The most simple way to honor true self-care is to check in regularly and ask yourself, “What do I need right now?”

You can get more specific if you’d like, but it’s as simple as tuning in with questions like:

  • What is my body craving today?
  • How can I take care of my mental health this week?
  • What can I do this weekend to feel more rested and energized?

In tuning into your needs in each moment, rather than an internet checklist, you will value your unique desires in each moment. This can significantly release the stress associated with trying to “do it all.”

woman holding a yoga mat
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Honor Asking for Help

Wanna know something sneaky about high-achieving energy? It’s also connected with some pride or a desire for people to see you a certain way.

This is what makes it so challenging for you to ask for help. You may not want others to think you are needing anything or you doubt others can reach the high standards of your work.

The funny thing is, this may actually do more harm than good for the goals you’ve outlined for yourself. Leaning on others and strengthening the skill of delegation can help you get your agenda moving along faster and more efficiently.

Focus on changing your mindset around needing to “do it all yourself.” It’s a powerful sign of leadership to ask for help and something to celebrate

Whew! Okay – how are we feeling?

You may have been looking for a stress relief list with simple things, like drinking more acai smoothies or doing a five-minute yoga routine to feel better. These may help temporarily, but the stress will probably creep back in if you don’t identify the major patterns that are keeping you on the edge of burnout.

It’s a combination of loving yourself as you are and switching up some mindset patterns. All of which, you are totally capable of.

I’m curious, which one are you ready to implement today? Let me know in the comments.

You’re amazing! Oh, and MORE than enough!