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5 Things to Do When You're Overwhelmed

You know that feeling when your plate is just full to bursting and you don’t even know where to begin. I’m sure everyone has experienced this at some point in their lives and talking to friends recently, the majority are feeling slightly ‘overwhelmed’.

If you think about it, we’ve emerged from two years of on and off lock down where we literally ground to a halt in terms of going out, were largely housebound and where any other extra curricular activities were put on long term hold. We didn’t have the complications of travel, logistics, the daily commute, social diaries, external meetings, sports fixtures, family commitments and so much more.

Life through lock down, although incredibly hard in so many ways, was incredibly simple in others. The pace of life slowed right down, people had time to reflect, spend time with their immediate family, engage in old school quizzes, jigsaw puzzles and board games. Time for online yoga before the next zoom call, time for long baths, time for self care and time for sitting round the dining room table engaging in conversation and eating proper meals.

Fast forward and life seems to have snowballed back to full on and we find ourselves heading at breakneck speed into overwhelm, perhaps even busier than we were before. All our good intentions of living a more relaxed pace of life are slowly fading away and are all but a distant memory. This transition from slow to fast is difficult in itself and takes time to adjust. You’re maybe feeling exhausted as your body and mind play catch up and it’s easy to tip into feeling overwhelmed.

So what exactly is it to be overwhelmed? Its most common meaning is ‘cause to be overcome with emotion as a result of something that’s just too much to manage (work, stress, life in general’). Life can be challenging with all the constant demands and in today’s modern world, it seems we are always playing catch up with all the competing challenges and priorities on our time.

The comforting thing here is, you are definitely not alone if you feel this way and experiencing moderate to extreme overwhelm is unsurprisingly common and often not your fault. It has become a bit of a given in modern life due to the incessant bombardment of communication, advancement in technology and unseen pressure and perception of having to achieve. This can often lead to frustration, dissatisfaction and an imbalance that can have a ripple effect across all different areas of your life.

So what can we do when we feel overwhelmed?

Manage our time

Slow things down, slow down your breathing, slow down your body movement, sit down and write a clear concise to-do list in priority order. The art of writing the items down gets them out of your head and enables you to see them clearly in black and white. Take a moment, grab a coffee then tackle each item on that list in a methodical manner. Tick off each item as you go, it’s amazing how satisfying that can be and once you see a few items ticked off, you will start to feel less overwhelmed and more in control.

Prioritise sleep

Overwhelm can be both mentally and physically draining, in times of overwhelm make sleep a priority. Unwind by switching off any devices at least half an hour before bed time, have a bath or shower, read a book and ensure the room is as dark as possible. A good night’s sleep is massively underrated and is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves when finding it all too much.

Take things day by day

In overwhelm we have a propensity to ruminate over the past or worry about the future. By taking things back to right here, right now, we can deal with things on a day by day basis and keep ourselves in the moment. By being present we can switch our body from ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode into the ‘relaxed’ mode making us feel less anxious as the pre frontal cortex in our brain (our CEO) retakes control, enabling us to be more rational and confident in our decision making.

Get out in nature

Being outside in nature has been scientifically proven to have the same effect on our bodies and minds as meditation. Even better, get outside in nature as early in the day as possible to absorb natural light which influences the quality of your sleep that night. This is because light in the morning advances your circadian rhythm making you want to go to bed earlier, therefore aiding a good nights sleep.

Learn to say no

It’s ok to say no, sometimes it’s empowering to take that control back and be kinder to ourselves. As much as we want to do it all, we can’t and that involves being brave and saying no to requests or demands that just feel too much. If you find it hard to say no, just delay your response, don’t reply to the request immediately and let it sit with you a while. Often the simple technique of delaying a reply empowers you and gives you the confidence to say no when you’re ready, in a polite way of course.

Remember, feeling overwhelmed with life is extremely common and you are not alone. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try some of the tips listed above and find one that works for you.

As a mindset & behaviour change coach I can help if you are:

  • Suffering from low esteem

  • Constantly stressed

  • Unable to prioritise

  • Stuck in the past

  • Finding new challenges overwhelming

  • Lacking in energy

  • Struggling to manage your weight

  • Battling to eat healthily

To find out more about my coaching methods click here.

To book your FREE 15 minute consultation click here or email me at

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