We all know that sensation: the crushing dread that falls on you like a wrecking ball whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed and worried you don’t have what it takes to handle everything on your plate!
When you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed, it brings a heightened level of anxiety and worry that can impact your ability to concentrate and sleep.
It also causes you to experience a prolonged stress response that includes physiological factors such as increased blood pressure, potential heart issues, muscle pain, and increased risk of stroke.
That’s why it’s so important for you to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and take action to alleviate that pressure and anxiety – and get to a place where you feel much calmer.
That way you can take more effective action to successfully resolve the issues you’re facing and stay on top of all the items on your to-do list.
Get started on your goal setting journey!
So how can you stop feeling overwhelmed?
I’d like to share some extremely effective stress management strategies that will help you stop feeling overwhelmed so you can make carefully considered decisions that yield better outcomes even during stressful times.
But first, let’s take a moment to consider why reality can seem so frequently overwhelming.
What Causes Overwhelm?
We become overwhelmed when it feels like there is more going on in our lives than we are mentally, emotionally, and energetically equipped to handle.
Every person has different stress level thresholds and based on our history and experiences, we are all triggered by different factors and respond to them in our own unique way.
That said, here are some of the most common stress factors that can cause you to feel overwhelmed.
By recognizing the impact these factors have on your performance and well-being, you can set expectations that allow for more effective stress management. Then, you will find it easier to handle all of life’s multi-tasking without having to feel overwhelmed all the time.
Setting Future Goals
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of goal-setting. When you don’t set goals for yourself, it’s almost impossible to achieve your personal and career aspirations and create a life you truly love.
BUT there is admittedly a “dark side” to goal-setting.
When your goals are so big that you can’t figure out how to get started on them – or when they’re impossible to achieve in a certain time frame – they can actually backfire and cause you so much pressure and anxiety, you abandon your efforts and give up on your dreams altogether.
Work & Financial Concerns
A recent poll found that 73% of Americans said that money was the single biggest cause of anxiety in their lives, followed by politics and work. And when we’re going through periods of economic turmoil, financial uncertainty and concerns with work (and its continued stability) become even more prevalent.
Past Traumatic Experiences
Most people have lived through some form of trauma.
Whether it came in the form of abusive or strained relationships with family members, failed romantic relationships, painful losses, or crushing failures, by the time you’re an adult you have likely experienced at least one traumatic event that is still impacting you in a very real way.
Until you do the work to heal from your trauma, the negative emotions you associate with it can arise at unexpected moments and cause a stress response that will prevent you from performing at your best.
Family, Relationship, & Health Concerns
Our family and relationships can be the source of our greatest joy and happiness, as well as our greatest source of disappointment and anxiety.
No one can break your heart like someone you truly love!
And when you are in conflict with the people you love, or when they (or you) are experiencing health issues, the anxiety and negative emotions can sometimes be paralyzing.
Symptoms of Feeling Overwhelmed or Helpless
Now that we’ve looked at the factors that can cause you to feel overwhelmed, it’s crucial to know the most common signs that appear when stress starts to dominate our lives.
Have you noticed one task after another slipping off your to-do list and out of your awareness?
If you notice yourself forgetting things more often – and people are increasingly having to remind you of promises not kept or obligations not fulfilled – that’s a good sign that you’re feeling overwhelmed by something.
Getting Confused Easily
Is it harder for you to keep track of things and understand what’s happening in any given situation?
That could be a sign that whatever is causing you to stress is taking so much of your mental energy, you don’t have much left over for anything else.
Get started on your goal setting journey!
Experiencing Trouble Focusing
Feeling overwhelmed is a huge distraction. I’m sure you’ve found yourself reading the same words on a page or screen over and over but having a hard time making them stick.
Or, you’ve struggled to pay attention to other people’s words because the source of your stress is causing unwanted intrusive thoughts. If you want to stay on top of your tasks, you have to be able to focus on them.
Reduced Ability to Solve Problems
When you’re feeling stressed, the constant mental and energetic drain makes it harder for you to solve problems, which means you’ll find it harder to make good decisions and achieve the outcomes you want.
When you’re feeling like you’re always battling to improve your circumstances and failing, it can lead to a rise in negative thoughts such as, “I’ll never win,” and “I deserve to fail,” which become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you find it hard to maintain a positive mindset and focus on your tasks and goals, it’s time for you to do something different.
Living in a state of constant stress is mentally and physically exhausting! It drains you of energy and makes it even harder for you to achieve your goals and thrive.
That’s why, if you find yourself frequently feeling overwhelmed, I strongly encourage you to take action and focus on doing something about it! The world will thank you when you do.
How to Deal with Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed
The good news is that overwhelm CAN be dealt with. And it begins with a focus on taking one small thing at a time and believing that your efforts will be worth it.
Pinpoint the Primary Source
The first step to stop feeling overwhelmed is to identify the top one or two things that are causing you the most burden right now.
Ask yourself the question, “What one or two things, if taken off my plate would alleviate 80% of the stress that I feel right now?”
Write down the answers so you get them out of your head and onto a piece of paper or a screen where you can start the process of resolving them.
Create a List
Overwhelm comes when you always feel like you have to do too much – so a great way to alleviate it is to create a “Do Not Do” list of things you commit to NOT do because you know they are an unnecessary waste of time and energy that would be better spent doing something else.
Items on your “Do Not Do” list could include: mindless scrolling on social media, getting into arguments with strangers in the comments, everybody else’s laundry, saying “yes” to any new volunteer requests, and so on.
Writing things on a list like this will help you remember where you DON’T want to waste your time and energy so you can focus on tasks that reinvigorate and empower you rather than drain and deplete you.
Set Boundaries & Say No
If you want to stay committed to your “Do Not Do” list and ensure you have the time and energy you need to deal with everything on your plate, you’re going to have to learn how to set boundaries and say “no” to people.
This can be challenging – especially if you’re a natural people-pleasure. But finding balance is key to managing your daily life. Just remember that you’re not saying “no” to THEM – you’re saying “YES” to you.
Delegate When You Can
What are you currently doing that can be done by someone else?
Maybe your partner or one of the kids can commit to making one or more meals a week, so you can use that time for something else.
Maybe you could start sharing school-run duties with a neighbor and take turns running the kids back and forth from school.
Maybe you could hire a teenager to mow your lawn and weed so you don’t have to.
List every task that can be done by someone else and delegate them as much as possible one thing at a time so you can liberate more of your time to spend on the things that are most necessary or important to your well-being.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re in a state of overload, taking care of yourself might seem self-indulgent or selfish. After all, there’s so much to be done – how can you justify expending any energy on yourself when there’s limited time and so many other tasks you need to do?
But the fact is, if you want to take care of ANYTHING – your family, a big project at work, your personal or career goals – you absolutely have to take care of yourself first.
Otherwise, you won’t have the energy, mindset, and sustained motivation you need to achieve your goals while dealing with whatever life throws at you.
So I encourage you to replace your stress response with a relaxation response and actively focus on relieving the tension in your mind and body whenever you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed.
Go for a walk, take a bubble bath, do yoga or some other form of mindful movement or stretching – whatever will help you feel calmer. By giving your mind and body what they need to thrive, you bolster your capacity for stress management.
Practice Mindful Meditation
Meditation is another powerful practice that you can use as a relaxation response to stop feeling overwhelmed.
You’ll find many guided meditations online that walk you through a process of releasing the thoughts that are causing you to feel stressed.
Even five minutes of breathing-focused awareness every day will calm your mind and soothe your heart and soul so you are better able to think clearly and make smart decisions that will help you get the results you want.
So whenever you notice yourself feeling stressed, I encourage you to take a few moments to breathe in and out and allow yourself to focus only on the rise and fall of your breath.
Let Go of Overwhelm & Find Peace
Overwhelm is a huge drain on your time and energy… your happiness and fulfillment… your ability to get the results – even your physical health! Unless you acknowledge it and do the work necessary to release its control over you, it will always hold you back from achieving your dreams.
The good news is, I have a free goal-setting tool that you can use to tackle all the things that are overwhelming you one task at a time and make it easier for you to take consistent action to overcome them.
You can download your free goal-planning tool here:
Get started on your goal-setting journey!