Getting Overwhelmed? Here Are 18 Tips That May Help

Wondering how to deal with feeling overwhelmed? It can creep up on us when we least expect it. It can often feel like we are drowning or struggling for air beneath a mammoth list of things to do and jobs to get done. 

It may also feel like everything is happening all at once, work to do, things changing in your life, global pandemics, the list could go on, but you get the picture. 

When we feel overwhelmed it’s usually because it feels like there are a million and one things going on in our lives and we don’t seem to have the capacity to manage them or the power to control them.

Although the feelings of overwhelm can be uncomfortable, understanding what causes it can be helpful as per expert advice

It’s a way for the mind and body to tell us that something needs to change – this might be thinking patterns, the need for more self-care and rest, or that we can’t look after everyone and everything all the time.

Viewing this feeling in a positive way, allows us to explore what overwhelm is trying to tell us. It’s up to us to listen because, just like a computer, we’re liable to crash if we surpass our capacity.

What To Do When Overwhelmed

When we’re overwhelmed, we can feel like a hamster on a wheel – running around and around, getting nowhere.

It can be helpful to ask ourselves what we’d be doing if we weren’t feeling so overwhelmed. This may help us to see that it’s time to take a break, slow down, or change our perspective.

So, here’s a friendly reminder: Though it’s not always easy, it is possible to learn skills for coping with overwhelm. Learning the potential root causes and coping tips may help you manage your stress a bit easier, no matter what’s causing it.

1. Acknowledge how you feel

Allow yourself to feel this feeling without judgement, criticism or self-criticism.

2. Ask yourself what you need right now

Ask yourself if there is anything else you can do right now? Can someone else help? Is there anything that needs doing that might take your focus off your feelings of overwhelm? Can you reach out and ask for support?

3. Accept that some things are out of your control

Sometimes we can’t do anything about a situation or someone else’s actions.

4. Breathing exercises

To breathe deeply helps to bring our mind back into the moment and can help us to feel more grounded, relaxed and in control.

5. Do something nurturing for yourself

This could be anything from a warm bath to a good movie, or even just sitting outside and listening to the sounds around you.

6. Go outside

Getting outdoors is one of the easiest ways to shift out of overwhelming situations and into something more manageable and enjoyable. Take a walk in nature if you can, or even just sit outside on your porch or balcony for a few minutes watching the clouds go by.

7. Give yourself permission to say no

If we don’t say no when we need to, then it can lead to burnout and feeling overwhelmed (and not being able to say yes when we want/should). Saying yes all the time puts pressure on us because there is only so much we can do at once!

8. Have some fun

What would you like to do that might be fun? This could be anything from playing with children (if you have them), going for a walk, playing a game, reading a book, watching a movie.

9. Imagine you are in your favourite place

If you could be anywhere in the world where would you like to be? What would you be doing there? How would you feel?

10. Laugh

Laughter is good medicine and it decreases stress and allows us to switch from an uncomfortable state to one we can handle.

11. Move your body

This could be anything from walking (you don’t have to go very far) to dancing or even just doing some stretches or yoga poses.

12. Take time out

If possible take time out from your day and do something that is nurturing for yourself.

13. Talk to someone

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed that we need someone else’s perspective on what is going on in our lives or what is happening around us that may be making us feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Talking with someone can help us to see things more clearly, gain new insights and often find solutions to our problems and concerns that we were not aware of before speaking with the person about them.

14. Think about what you really want

How do you really want things to be? Do you want to achieve a healthier life? What are the things that are most important to you and what would have to be in place for you to feel happy and fulfilled?

15. Write down 3 things that are making you feel overwhelmed

Writing down three things that are making us feel overwhelmed can help us gain clarity on what we need to do next.

For example, if our overwhelm is due to workloads then we might need to speak with our boss or co-workers; if it’s due to financial pressures then we might need to cut back on some of our spending habits; if it’s due to family problems then we may need some space from them for a while (perhaps go away on holidays without them); if it’s due to too much clutter around the house then we may need more time/space in which clean up; etc.

16. Think about what you want to do in the future

We can often feel overwhelmed by the present and even the past (or our memories), so thinking about what we want to do in the future can help us create a sense of direction and purpose. 

For example, if you are completely overwhelmed because you have too much work on and don’t know how to manage it, then think about how you might handle it differently next time, perhaps by delegating some of the tasks or cutting back on some of your hours at work. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed because your relationship with someone is not going as well as you hoped, then think about what it was like when things were going really well, what made them that way and how could you make those positive things happen again? 

If you are feeling overwhelmed because a situation is out of control, then think about how it could be brought under control and feel calmer (what steps could be taken to bring this about).

17. Think about who supports you

Who are the people around us that support us? Are there people we can rely on for advice or help when things get tough? Do we have a good support network in place for times when we need extra strength?

18. Think about what you’re grateful for

Thinking about what we are grateful for can help us feel connected to others and to the world around us. It can also help us feel more connected to our own lives. 

For example, if I am feeling overwhelmed because of all the work I have to do, then thinking of something I am grateful for (e.g., ‘I am grateful for my family because they support me and make my life so much easier’) might make me feel a bit better by reminding me that I have some things going right in my life which is always helpful when feeling overwhelmed. I

If I am feeling overwhelmed because of financial pressures, then thinking of something I am grateful for (e.g., ‘I am grateful that I have a roof over my head and food on the table’) might make me feel better by reminding me that there are many people in the world less fortunate than myself, which is always helpful when feeling overwhelmed.

What to remember

Stress affects our physical and mental health. Sometimes it comes from personal sources, like relationships or work, and other times it stems from systemic factors, like politics or social justice.

But knowing how to stop feeling overwhelmed and ways to reduce anxiety when those feelings pop up can help to reduce your stress levels. 

Most of all, it helps to remember that overwhelm happens to everyone. These feelings are temporary, and they’re going to pass. These tips can help you feel better sooner than later.

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