a wave in the blue ocean

Eight strategies to approach feeling overwhelmed

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

By Liz

Feeling overwhelmed is a completely normal part of life. The trick is working our way out of getting stuck there. These strategies are helpful tactics to gain a little shift in perspective and keep moving forward with what we need to do.

What else is going on?

Before getting stuck in, it’s worth trying to understand if the feeling of overwhelm is perhaps couched in any other states of mind. For example, you might feel very low, or find it difficult to concentrate and these things will contribute to feeling overwhelmed.

Understanding this can help you approach the wider context of what you’re feeling.

  1. See it all clearly

When it starts to feel like you’re being battered by wave after wave of things to do, make a list to see it all clearly. Even if it’s just three things. Bash them all down in any order. Every little thing. Keep going until there’s nothing left that you can think of. Then put them in order of priority.

Then start with the first one.

  1. It’ll take 15 minutes

This is a great way to motivate yourself when you feel overwhelmed by a bunch of small things nagging at you and filling up brain space. Think of those things you never get to do because you put them off: getting things fixed, household admin, clearing things out.

The thing is, it will probably only take you 15 minutes to do that thing. Really. So give yourself a good (kind) talking to, block off 15 minutes to do it and give yourself a reward afterwards.

  1. Turn your face towards it

This is a good strategy for a large, complex or creative task that feels too big to conquer. You adjust your expectations and work on the task a little bit at a time, every day until it’s done. It works in situations where there is a low time pressure. It allows for some breathing room and motivates you to keep working on it bit by bit. You might say to yourself, “I feel overwhelmed by this right now but I’m just going to turn my face towards it and see how far I get today.”

  1. Have a snack

This strategy cannot be underestimated.

A creeping desperation, ballooning overwhelm, hunger – the feelings are all similar. When you start to feel overwhelmed, check in with your body first. Chances are you could do with a snack. Support your body and it will ground your mind to help you deal with the overwhelm.

  1. Get some help

You don’t have to do absolutely everything by yourself but sometimes we all need reminding of that. Some useful questions:

  • Can I say ‘no’ to this thing?
  • Is there someone who can help me?
  1. What is the next right thing?

This is a good one for when you’re looking for a path forward and feeling overwhelmed in your heart. It’s a great way to cut through the noise.

It’s from Glennon Doyle who used it during a tough time in her life. When she couldn’t see the wood for the trees, she would close herself up in her cupboard, take plenty of deep breaths and feel out ‘ the next right thing’. It’s really helpful on tough days when we are taking things one step at a time.

  1. Use a light touch

When you have a lot on the go and are under time pressure, it’s important to put your energy where it best serves you.

Sometimes this means catching yourself circling around a task before doing it or second guessing yourself. When this happens, try and push yourself to dive in, give it your best effort and move on. This serves you best in the long run.

  1. Get into your body

Overwhelm is a perspective and if you’ve taken steps to tackle it and the feeling is still sitting with you, then it might help to get into your body to shake it off.

Like Prince William at a Taylor Swift concert.

Think deep breaths, grounding, dancing like a maniac, screaming into a pillow. All highly recommended.