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The Only 3 Things You Need to Do to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Feeling Overwhelmed

Do you know that nearly 2 in 3 adults feel stressed, including feeling overwhelmed? So, if you ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day or that you will never catch up, you are not alone.

Feeling overwhelmed can be debilitating. And if left untreated, it can cause major issues in your relationships, health, and life.

As the saying goes, it is easier to deal with something when it is small, so recognizing overwhelm as soon as it appears is your best practice. Keep reading to find out all there is about overwhelm, the symptoms, and how to stop it.

What Does It Mean to Feel Overwhelmed

The tasks are piling up, you feel like there is never enough time to do them all. And on top of that, you are worried about the finances, your kids, the project at work, health, and that you haven’t made Pilates class this week again. It goes without saying that you know when you feel overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, feeling overwhelmed will not only kill your productivity but will stop you in your tracks. Why? Because when you feel overwhelmed you procrastinate a lot.

You see if you always thought about yourself as being lazy because you procrastinate, I’m here to tell you that this is not the case. Procrastinating from time to time is normal, and we all do it.

However, in most cases, procrastinating is a result of feeling overwhelmed.

When you feel overwhelmed, you find it hard to streamline your focus. You have a million thoughts an hour and don’t know which direction to go. So, you stop. In a way, it is your brain’s defence mechanism to prevent overheating.

Overwhelm comes in when you feel out of control of your environment. The uncertainty and unpredictability of what would happen or what to do next bring anxiety.

And before you know it, you sit on a couch and watch reruns of your favourite show on Netflix trying to motivate yourself to get back to work.

Symptoms of Feeling Overwhelmed

Sometimes, the results of feeling overwhelmed can’t be seen straight away. You may feel more stressed, have less time, and are a bit more easily irritated. But you accept feeling that way as being a part of your day.

And although our fast-paced lives can be demanding, feeling overwhelmed shouldn’t be part of it.

You may feel mentally, physically, and emotionally overwhelmed. When you feel overwhelmed, it is hard to stay focused, concentrate, think strategically, or take action. What’s more, untreated overwhelm can lead to anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and chronic stress.

When you feel overwhelmed, your emotions are at full speed – you can burst into tears one moment and lash out in anger a moment later. You may lack the motivation and energy to follow through on the simplest tasks. And the constant worry will prevent you from having quality sleep.

Being overwhelmed impacts your physical health, and you could experience fatigue, muscle aches and pains, indigestion, chest pains, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, or panic attacks.

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Feeling Overwhelmed vs Feeling Stressed

Feeling overwhelmed and feeling stressed are interdependent. It may start as an overwhelm when you need to get the household ready and out the door in the morning. But the more often you feel that way, the bigger your chances of developing chronic stress.

Feeling overwhelmed means you have too many things to do and not enough time, energy, finances, or other resources to do it all. As mentioned earlier, overwhelm is a product of unpredictability and lack of control.

It puts you in a state of inaction. You may still be getting things crossed out from your to-do list, but deep down, you feel you will never be able to catch up.

On the other hand, stress manifests when there is a demand for a change, and you think you won’t be able to meet that demand. Stress will also put you in a state where you feel out of control. You will be stressed because of the change that needs to happen to meet the situation.

Feeling stressed also moves you to be in survival mode. It means you are reactive to the events. You may be rolling with the punches, getting one thing done after another, but you lost sight of where you are heading.

You start saying yes to more things, causing a drain on your resources and creating overwhelm as a result.

How Do You Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

Both stress and overwhelm can manifest in different ways. Although some type of stress (eustress) is good and can be beneficial, overwhelm is not.

I want you to look at being overwhelmed as a sign that something is not working in your life. When I was battling stress, depression, and burnout, overwhelm was telling me that I needed to change what I was doing.

It was a sign that how I managed my life, my relationships, and my health wasn’t serving me. And although I couldn’t see it at the time, it was a sign that I was engaging in things that weren’t bringing me joy.

In a way, overwhelm was an indication that it was time to reassess.

And I want you to start looking at overwhelm the same way. Ask yourself what you could stop doing that you know is not supporting you. What are you spending your time on, but know you could use it better if you shift your focus?

Here are three strategies to further help you stop feeling overwhelmed.

#1 Have Routines

I am a big fan of routines. I know this may sound strange but routines don’t need to be boring! Routines or rituals are here to help our overloaded brain to take a rest.

I know the moment I let go of my routines the level of stress and overwhelm increase. Recently the seasons have changed, and I found it hard to get up and follow my morning routine. As a result, I felt less energetic, didn’t know what to focus on, and my motivation and mood plummeted.

I not only felt emotionally overwhelmed but started stressing out that I won’t have the time and energy to finish all my tasks. What’s more, I found myself procrastinating and slipping back into my old habits.

Routines are the antidote to overwhelm and stress. As you remember from earlier when you feel overwhelmed you feel out of control. To feel like you know what to do next, you need to steer towards what is familiar.

The two most powerful routines you need to have are morning and evening routines.

A morning routine will set you for the day. You will focus on your priorities and have a clear plan of where you are heading. You will feel more organized and calmer because you will be able to match your resources with the demand.

Your evening routine will reflect what has been done, help you unwind at the end of the day, and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Routines are like anchors. They keep you grounded when the storm hits the ship.

#2 Set Boundaries

Have you noticed how at certain times of the year you feel more overwhelmed than at others? There will always be moments when you need to stretch yourself to meet a deadline. This is normal and to be expected in our lives.

However, if you constantly feel overwhelmed, you need to re-assess your boundaries. Because somewhere along the way, you started saying ‘yes’ to too many things.

As women, we find it very hard to set boundaries. It is not that we don’t want to have them. It is more that we don’t want to disappoint others by saying no. I lost count of how many times I said I’ll do it!

The thought that we can do it faster or better is counterproductive. The truth is that although we may be able to do the task at hand faster and better, we could be spending our time on something more meaningful.

Every time you say ‘yes’ to something or someone that does not align with what matters to you, you say ‘no’ to yourself. You will add even more load onto your plate and that is a recipe for overwhelm.

So how to set healthy boundaries? For starters, begin saying ‘no’ for every ‘yes’ you say. Say yes only to tasks that are urgent, can be done only by you, and that light you up.

Secondly, delegate as much as you can. This may feel scary at first, because you may feel like you are not in control of how and when something gets done. However, the more you can delegate, the better outcome you get.

If you still find setting boundaries hard, I like you to shift your mindset around it. Think that by delegating a task you give the other person opportunity to grow.

#3 Prioritize

The easiest way to stop feeling overwhelmed is to make a list of all the things you need to do and the emotions and worries you have. When you have a list, you can systemize it and streamline your focus.

I find that for many of us, the infamous to-do list causes even more stress and overwhelm. That is why you need to prioritize.

There is art in prioritizing, but at the base, you pick no more than three things for the day to complete. It doesn’t mean you won’t do other things it means your focus goes first to those three things.

But don’t just pick three random things you feel need to be done or others want you to do. Your priorities need to be aligned with a bigger goal and should move you forward.

Neuroscience 101 teaches us that our brain will always go for what’s familiar. While this is great when it comes to stopping feeling overwhelmed, it doesn’t help with setting priorities.

Not all tasks are equal, so you need to be careful what you pick to focus on. You want to get the best ROI on your time.

You may not recognize it at first, but prioritizing helps with letting go. And this may be the best tool to stop feeling overwhelmed.

When you list all that causes you to feel overwhelmed on a piece of paper (or a Word doc), you have a visual of what needs to get done. It helps you to assess your resources (aka your time and energy) and decide where your focus should go.

There is power in letting go and accepting that you are doing the best you can with the knowledge and skills you have.

How to Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed from time to time is normal. It is part of being human. However, when you feel overwhelmed all the time, you are at risk of developing anxiety and chronic stress.

Being overwhelmed can derail your life. You may feel tired, have brain fog or unsettling emotions, and procrastinate a lot.

Make sure you have routines in place, so you have something familiar to fall back on. If you haven’t done it yet, set healthy boundaries by saying no more often and embracing delegation.

Set priorities daily, so you know where your focus should go, and let go of all the rest.

Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time, and INVEST well in your wellness!

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