Joanna Gaines Shares How She Deals with Burnout and the “Messy” Moments

published Nov 2, 2022
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If you’ve ever wondered how Joanna Gaines manages to accomplish so much, you’re not alone. In a revealing new personal essay in Magnolia Journal, the design mogul and Magnolia Network star opened up about a common issue for serial multi-taskers like herself: Burnout.

“I looked around at what I’d built with equal parts gratitude and exhaustion. I love my life, and I love my family — deeply. But some of the ways I’d gotten here, some of the qualities I’d always relied on — like being really productive, super efficient, always running at high capacity — were beginning to turn on me,” shared Gaines, who was in the midst of penning her memoir, “The Stories We Tell.” 

Recognizing that “the past 20 years have been a heck of a ride,” Gaines saw that she couldn’t continue to move at the warp speed she was used to. 

“I knew I couldn’t keep going the way I have. It’s hard to explain how I was feeling. I was grateful beyond measure, but exhausted. Loved, but feeling unworthy. Full, but running on empty,” she explained. “And because my world kept me busy, I could still feel the wheels of my life humming. What became harder to tell is where they should be headed.”

In order to find a way to move forward, Gaines reflected on her past. In particular, her time as a child when she was “that little girl — the one with the missing tooth and messy hair — she knew who she was before the world chimed in. And part of writing my story has been the hope of finding her again.” It was a slow process writing the book, and Gaines faced several days of staring at blank pages — particularly in the beginning. Using old photos, she reflected on memorable moments as a family, like the fairy garden–themed birthday party she threw for her daughter, or the family’s first home, an 800-square-foot space. But it also meant looking back on the less-enjoyable times, “digging deeper” into the times that aren’t a “highlight reel.”

“You have to wade through the messiness, maybe even some ugliness, some past pain, some regret or shame,” Gaines shared. “Beneath the stuff that distracts us, I learned, is the stuff that’s been quietly holding us up all along.”

Ultimately, Gaines says she discovered a significant amount about herself during the book-writing process. 

“Clarity, healing, deeper truths I didn’t know I could get to,” said Gaines. “But mostly, these pages brought me back to myself, back to those tender little moments I thought I’d lost. In writing down my story, I had the chance to relive some of the very best chapters of my life.” 

Moving forward, Gaines says the next time she looks back on her trials and tribulations, she doesn’t want to see “a kind of kaleidoscope life — out of focus and jumbled — where the moments I swore I’d never forget become difficult to discern amid the chaos of thoughts and memories unresolved.” Instead, she’ll be working to maintain a sense of presence so she can enjoy every moment as it comes. 

“I want to live the next season of this beautiful life in focus,” she concluded.

The winter issue of Magnolia Journal is available on newsstands and online starting November 11.