Feeling overwhelmed? Learn what to do when you feel like giving up. Discover practical steps to regain motivation and overcome challenges

What to do when you feel like giving up

Jun 16, 2024

By Will Moore

We’ve all been there—feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel. The urge to give up can strike at any moment, whether due to work pressures, personal struggles, or the constant barrage of daily challenges.

This isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a natural human response to stress and adversity. Feeling overwhelmed by a crisis can amplify these emotions, making it even harder to cope.

I know this all too well. My college days were the hardest when I felt like a complete failure and hit rock bottom. After a heated argument with my mother during my drive up to begin freshman year, I found myself in a jail cell for the night. I was in complete despair that night, a sleepless blur filled with cursing the universe and feeling utterly lost as it the world crumbled around me.

Read our Article on I hate my Life

But, in the midst of that darkness, I found a spark of hope. A week or so later a professor serendipitously introduced me to Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” That book became my lifeline, sparking a transformation that helped me claw my way out of despair. It wasn’t easy, but it was a turning point.

Years later, I faced another monumental challenge while starting my business, Doorstep Delivery. We endured countless setbacks. Imagine pouring your heart and soul into a venture only to have your business plan stolen and being robbed by your own manager. The frustration, the anger—it was almost unbearable. Yet, despite these hurdles, we persevered and eventually thrived, leading to a successful merger and acquisition.

So, you are not alone in this struggle.

Good news: there are many practical, actionable steps you can take to regain your momentum and push forward. In this blog, we’ll explore seven strategies for overcoming the urge to give up.

These actionable strategies are backed by science and have helped me and countless individuals shift their mindset, manage burnout, and find the strength to keep going.

Here are the upgrades you’ll earn from this blog:

  • Level up from a fixed to a growth mindset.

  • Implement practical methods to manage and prevent burnout.

  • Discover actionable, easy-to-apply strategies to keep going.

Let’s dive in and explore what to do when you feel like giving up.

What Does It Mean When You Feel Like Giving Up?

Studies show that a significant portion, nearly 25% of the world’s population, struggles with loneliness. This isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a natural human response to stress and adversity. Feeling overwhelmed by a crisis can amplify these emotions, making it even harder to cope.

Many of us experience feeling like giving up. It can be a brief thought during a tough day or a lingering sense of hopelessness that won’t disappear. This feeling can be overwhelming and make you feel stuck. You should check our detailed article on how to get unstuck in life.

I remember feeling this way during my college years. After that night in jail, I felt completely defeated and wondered if I could ever turn things around. And then, years later, as an entrepreneur, facing theft and betrayal from within my own business, I questioned whether it was all worth it.

At its heart, wanting to give up often comes from being overwhelmed by challenges that seem too big to handle. This can happen for many reasons—maybe work is too stressful, personal problems are piling up, or you’re facing a challenging situation with no clear solution. Substance abuse can also be a contributing factor to feeling overwhelmed.

Check our Article on How to Rebuild your Life

Nowadays, we’re constantly bombarded with information and often compare ourselves to others. Seeing other people’s successes can make us feel like we’re not good enough, leading to self-doubt and a sense of failure. On top of this, the pressure to get instant results can make it hard to stick with long-term goals. You might reach up the level of having suicidal thoughts, which is a severe aspect of feeling like giving up and should not be ignored.

What is the Psychology of Giving Up?

When you come across the thought, "I feel like giving up," it's important to understand that a lot is happening in your mind. This feeling often comes from deep-seated psychological responses to stress and challenges. This feeling often comes from deep-seated psychological responses to stress and challenges, and in some cases, it can be a sign of underlying anxiety disorders.

Fight or Flight Response:

Our brains protect us from harm. When faced with a difficult situation, we might feel an urge to escape it. This is known as the "fight or flight" response. It's a natural reaction meant to keep us safe but can also make us want to give up when things get tough. . In extreme cases, this overwhelming urge to escape can manifest in harmful behaviors like self-harm.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset:

Psychologist Carol Dweck's research on mindsets helps explain why some people give up more quickly than others. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities are set and cannot change, making failures feel final. On the other hand, a growth mindset helps you observe challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Accepting a growth mindset can make a big difference in how you handle difficult times.

Stress and Burnout:

Constant stress can lead to burnout, which can make you feel physically and emotionally drained. Burnout can make everything seem more difficult, but it's important to remember that it's a temporary state. With rest and self-care, you can regain your motivation. Understanding this can help you take steps to manage stress and prevent burnout.

Fear of Failure:

Many people give up because they fear failing. This self-doubt can be paralyzing and stop you from taking action. Recognizing that failure is a part of the learning process can help reduce this fear and encourage you to keep trying. I learned this firsthand during the tumultuous journey of building my business. You should read our article on How to stop being a failure.

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How Do I Fight the Feeling of Giving Up?

Fighting the feeling of giving up can be challenging, but it's possible. Here are seven proven strategies to help you push through those tough times.

1. Recognize and Reframe Your Mindset

We suffer more in our imagination than in our reality. Hence, it would help if you won in your head first to win in life. Don't beat yourself up over negative thoughts. Acknowledge them, then reframe them into a more positive perspective. Instead of saying, "I can't do this," tell yourself, "I can learn from this and improve."

Tips to Implement:

  • Daily Affirmations: Start every day with positive affirmations. Remind your mind of your strengths and past successes.

  • Growth Journaling: Keep a journal where you write about daily challenges and how you can learn from them.

  • Visualization: Spend a few minutes each day visualizing your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them.

When I was at my lowest, daily affirmations and growth journaling became my go-to tools. Visualizing a successful outcome helped me push through the darkest times.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Setting achievable goals can make a huge difference. Turn big dreams into action! Start by breaking them into smaller, manageable tasks. This way, you can celebrate small wins and build momentum. For example, if you're working on a big project, set daily or weekly goals to make the process less overwhelming.

The Importance of Realistic Goals

Goals that are too lofty or vague can seem unattainable and discouraging. Want to achieve more? Research reveals that specific, challenging goals are crucial to boosting performance. A study by Locke & Latham (2002) showed specific goals are the key to unlocking better performance. Particular goals provide clear direction and motivation, helping you focus your efforts.

Check our Article on 7 Steps of Goal Setting

When starting Doorstep Delivery, we set realistic goals and broke them down into specific, actionable steps. For example, our first major goal was to establish a customer base in our initial market. We broke this down into smaller tasks:

  • First, we researched and identified the most popular restaurants in the area.

  • Then, we reached out to restaurant owners and pitched the idea of a delivery partnership.

  • Next, we focused on marketing efforts offering initial promotions to attract customers.

  • We set weekly targets for the number of customer sign-ups we wanted to achieve.

  • Additionally, we monitored our progress through regular team meetings, adjusting our strategies based on what worked best.

This detailed, step-by-step approach kept us motivated and on track, even during the toughest times. Each small win built momentum and confidence, propelling us forward.

Tips to Implement:

Set SMART Goals: Use the SMART criteria to set your goals:

  1. Specific: Clearly define your desired outcome. For example, instead of saying, "I want to get fit," specify, "I want to run three times a week."

  2. Measurable: Ensure your goal can be tracked. For instance, "I want to increase my running distance by 10% weekly."

  3. Achievable: Set goals that push you but stay within reach. Consider your current capabilities and resources.

  4. Relevant: Choose attainable goals that are important to you and align with your values and long-term objectives.

  5. Time-bound: Set a deadline for your goal. For example, "I want to run a 5K race within the next three months."

Break Down Larger Goals: Divide your big goals into smaller, actionable steps. This approach makes daunting tasks more manageable and less overwhelming. Remember, small changes lead to big results.

Task Lists: Create daily or weekly task lists to stay organized and focused. Prioritize tasks and check them off as you complete them. This helps you keep track of your progress and gives you a sense of accomplishment with each task completed.

Progress Tracking: Use a progress tracker to visualize your achievements. This can be a simple chart, a journal, or an app designed to track progress. Seeing your steady advancement can motivate you to keep going.

Flexible Adjustments: Be flexible and willing to adjust your goals as needed. Life can be unpredictable, and you may need to recalibrate your goals to stay on track. Adjusting your goals doesn't mean you're giving up; it means adapting to circumstances to achieve success.

3. Develop a Support System

Having a support system is crucial. Surround yourself with people who encourage and motivate you. These could be friends, family, a life coach, or online communities. Don’t be afraid to reach out and share your struggles. Sometimes, talking about what you’re going through can make a big difference.

Lean on your loved ones. According to a Journal of Health and Social Behavior, strong social connections can be a powerful buffer against stress. Seek non-judgmental support from friends and family who are sympathetic and understanding.

The early days of setting up my business were difficult. If it wasn’t for my crew, I don’t know if we’d have made it. My best friend? That guy was my rock. We’d be up till the crack of dawn, our heads buzzing with ideas, trying to crack the code on every problem that came our way. There were a lot of them. But we kept each other fired up.

And my family, they were the real MVPs. My sister, especially. She didn’t just believe in what we were doing; she made me believe in it too.

I also tapped into this network of industry vets, these mentors who’d been through the wringer. They’d seen it all, and their advice saved us from making rookie mistakes that could’ve sunk us.

Looking back, I realize that crew—my friend, my family, those mentors—they were my major support system.

Tips to Implement:

  • Find a Mentor: Connect with someone with experience in the areas you're struggling with. Their guidance can be invaluable.

  • Join a Community: Explore the online world. Social media communities, online Forums, and support groups offer a wealth of connections for people with shared interests and goals.

  • Regular Check-ins: Connect with your support system to share progress and troubleshoot. This could be a weekly call with a friend, a monthly meeting with a mentor, or participating in a regular group discussion. Regular interactions help keep you accountable and provide ongoing support.

  • Be Open and Honest: Share your struggles and successes with your support system. Being open and honest about what you're going through helps build deeper connections and allows others to provide the support you need. Feel free to ask for help when you need it.

  • Offer Support to Others: Supporting others can also strengthen your support network. When you help someone, you reinforce your sense of purpose and resilience. It creates a reciprocal relationship where both parties benefit from the support and encouragement.

4. Take Care of Your Physical Health

Taking care of your physical health strengthens your mental well-being. Simple daily routines like exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep can recharge your mood and energy levels. Even a short walk outside can make you feel better and more refreshed.

The Link Between Physical and Mental Health

Physical health is key to mental well-being. When you exercise daily, your body releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Eating a balanced diet gives the necessary nutrients for your brain to function optimally, and adequate sleep helps restore your body and mind, making you better equipped to handle stress.

Tips to Implement:

  1. Exercise Routine: Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. This could be walking, yoga, or any physical activity you enjoy. Get active, and feel positive! Exercise tackles depression & anxiety, leaving you happier.

  2. Healthy Eating: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Decrease excessive caffeine and sugar, which can lead to energy crashes and mood swings. Nutritious foods fuel your body and mind, giving you the energy to tackle challenges.

  3. Sleep Hygiene: To ensure quality sleep, set and fix a regular sleep schedule and create a restful environment. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Good sleep hygiene practices include keeping your bedroom cool and dark, avoiding screens before bedtime, and having a consistent bedtime routine.

  4. Hydration: Remember to keep yourself well-hydrated throughout the day. It's essential for maintaining your energy levels and keeping your mind focused. Dehydration can cause fatigue and hinder concentration, making it harder to stay motivated.

  5. Mind-Body Practices: Engage in mind-body practices like yoga, tai chi, or meditation. These healthy activities can help you relax, reduce stress, and improve your physical and mental health. They teach you to listen to your body and mind, promoting balance and well-being.

5. Practice Self-Compassion

According to Dr. Neff's research, individuals who practice self-compassion tend to adopt healthier behaviors and experience improved mental well-being. They are less likely to be overly self-critical and more likely to persevere through challenges with a supportive inner dialogue.

Be kind to yourself. It's easy to be overly critical of yourself when things get tough. Extend to yourself the same kindness and understanding you would readily give to a friend. Take time to relax and do things that make you happy. Many parents who face additional stress from working during the day and then performing a 'second shift' of household tasks and childcare can benefit significantly from practicing self-compassion to manage their stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Tips to Implement:

  • Self-Compassion Exercises: Practice exercises that promote self-kindness, mindfulness, and shared humanity. For example, write a letter to yourself offering the same advice you would give to a friend.

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Spend a few minutes each day in mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breath and let go of judgmental thoughts.

  • Positive Self-Talk: Swap out negative self-talk for positive affirmations to uplift yourself.

  • Remind yourself that it's okay to make mistakes and that you're doing your best.

6. Create a Balanced Routine

Balance is key. Be sure to incorporate breaks and leisure activities into your work schedule. This helps prevent burnout and keeps you feeling refreshed. A balanced life ensures that you're not overloading yourself with stress. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology reveals that employees who took regular breaks and engaged in leisure activities were more productive and had higher job satisfaction than those who did not.

Tips to Implement:

  • Time Blocking: Use time-blocking techniques to schedule your day. Allocate specific times for work, breaks, and leisure activities.

  • Daily Breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. This could be a quick walk, stretching, or a few minutes of relaxation.

  • Hobbies and Interests: Set aside time for interests and hobbies apart from your work commitments. Giving time to activities you enjoy can help you maintain a healthy balance.

  • Scheduled Downtime: Plan for downtime in your routine. This is time to relax and unwind without any specific agenda. It could be watching a favorite TV show, listening to music, or doing nothing. Downtime is crucial for mental recovery and preventing burnout.

  • Healthy Boundaries: limit boundaries to protect your time and energy. Learn to say no to tasks or commitments that don't align with your priorities.

  • Flexible Adjustments: Be flexible and willing to adjust your routine as needed. Life is dynamic; sometimes, you must adapt your schedule to accommodate unexpected events or changes. Flexibility ensures that your routine remains effective and supportive.

7. Use Technology Wisely

Many tools and apps are designed to help you manage your time and tasks effectively. Use these tools to stay organized and on track without feeling overwhelmed. Technology can serve as a valuable friend in assisting you in staying focused and accomplishing your objectives.

Tips to Implement:

  • Productivity Apps: Use productivity apps like Trello, Asana, or Todoist to organize tasks and set reminders.

  • Time Management Tools: Utilize tools like Pomodoro timers to break your work into manageable intervals with short breaks in between.

  • Mindfulness Apps: Explore mindfulness apps like Headspace or Calm to help you relax and stay focused.

Is It Normal to Think About Giving Up?

Absolutely. It's normal to think about giving up, especially during challenging times. It's a common human experience. Many people have these thoughts, even those who seem to have it all together. It's a sign that you're pushing yourself and facing significant challenges, which is a part of growth. Sometimes, society constantly pressures us to appear strong and in control, making it hard to admit when we struggle. However, acknowledging these feelings is the first step toward overcoming them. It's okay to seek help and talk about what you're going through.

Feeling like giving up can signal from your mind and body that you need a break. It might be time to rest, reassess your goals, or try a new approach. Taking a step back doesn't mean you're quitting; it means you're taking care of yourself so you can be the best version of yourself.

What to do when you feel like giving up on your dreams?

Hey, I get it. Chasing your dreams is no easy feat. Sometimes, you feel deflated, like banging your head against a wall and making zero progress. Believe me, I've been there. It's gut-wrenching and soul-crushing.

You pour your heart and soul into something, sacrificing so much, only to face setback after setback. Disappointment and self-doubt start creeping in, whispering in your ear, "What's the point? Maybe you're just not cut out for this." Those moments can shake you to your core and make you question everything.

Check our Article on How to be a More Positive Person

But remember, you and your dreams matter. Your feelings and aspirations are important and worth pursuing.

Take J.K. Rowling - can you imagine if she'd given up after being broke, depressed, and rejected by a dozen publishers? We'd have never experienced Harry Potter!

Or my guy Michael Jordan - the GOAT himself was cut from his high school basketball team. But instead of quitting, he used it as fuel and became the most iconic player ever. He said, "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying." Chills, am I right?

The path will be challenging, but nothing epic ever is. So feel that fire inside you. Because one day, maybe soon or maybe years down the line, you'll look back at these trying times as just another merciless hurdle you conquered on your way to greatness.

You've got this, dreamer. Now, shake off those doubts and keep fighting for the life you want to live.

Summing up: What to do when you feel like giving up

Feeling like giving up is a natural human experience, but it's not the end of the road. I've been through some of the darkest times, from hitting rock bottom in college to facing relentless challenges while building my business. What got me through were the strategies I've shared here: recognizing and reframing my mindset, setting realistic goals, developing a support system, taking care of my physical health, practicing self-compassion, creating a balanced routine, and using technology wisely.

These strategies transformed my life and can do the same for you. Remember, every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep pushing forward, and you'll find the strength to turn your moments of doubt into triumphs of resilience.


Feeling ready to take charge and make a real change? Start your journey today with our Core Values Quiz to discover where you stand in the 5 Core Areas Of Life. It's simple, fun, and the perfect first step towards building momentum.

Next, explore personalized coaching options to supercharge your growth. Whether you're looking for individual or executive coaching to enhance your personal and professional life, we've got you covered. Check out our offerings here.

To keep yourself accountable in a fun and engaging way, try our gamified Weekly Habit Tracker App. It's designed to make your habit transformation journey enjoyable and rewarding.

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OUR MISSION: Accelerate your growth in the 5 Key areas of life by making your habit transformation journey so simple, fun, and rewarding that your momentum becomes inevitable.


Is it okay if I give up?

It’s okay to reassess and change direction if something no longer serves your values or goals. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a break, seeking support, and applying strategies to help you persevere.

For those experiencing suicidal thoughts, suicide prevention resources are crucial. Contact hotlines, healthcare providers, social workers, clergy members, teachers, friends, and family for support. Building a support network within your community and social circles can be a protective factor against suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

When is giving up okay?

Giving up can be okay when:

  • It no longer aligns with your values.

  • It harms your mental or physical health.

  • It prevents you from achieving more important goals.

Evaluate your reasons thoughtfully before making a decision.

How do I stop thinking about giving up?

To stop thinking about giving up:

  • Break tasks into smaller steps.

  • Seek support from friends or mentors.

  • Reframe your mindset and celebrate small wins.

  • Take care of your physical health.

  • Set realistic and attainable goals.

What is the feeling called when you give up?

The desire to give up is often associated with despair or hopelessness. These emotions arise when you feel overwhelmed and see no clear path forward. Don’t let these feelings hold you back. Recognizing and tackling them will jumpstart your motivation.


Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

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