Feeling Overwhelmed? 5 Top Tips That Will Help

Is it just me or does this year seem to be hurtling past at an astonishing rate? I’ve been so busy during the first half of this year with my writing, workshops, online content, and various family events that I was heading for yet another burnt out as the summer holidays arrived.

I thought my time and energy management was better, but when I find myself feeling semi-human, I have an annoying habit of accepting all the invitations, taking on all the new pieces of work, and saying yes to anything that’s offered and then wondering why I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.

 

Is that feeling of overwhelming something you can relate to? Did you plan on having a lovely summer spent resetting, recharging and reflecting on your goals, life, and accomplishments? Yep, me too! Instead, I spent the majority of my time stressing about deadlines, worrying about letting people down, wandering through my house mumbling about the dust/ironing/clutter, and avoiding the windows so I couldn’t see how long the grass was.

According to some self-help gurus, they believe the Universe only sends us what we can handle. Lately, I’ve struggled to believe this as I do feel like I’m drowning in the wave of ‘stuff’ that never seems to end.  However, I have had a host of ‘stuff’ thrown at me throughout my life, and the majority of it has helped me to become my best self, rise to the occasion, and kick some self-help ass.

So what tools do I use to help me overcome this feeling of overwhelm and get back on track?

Here are my top five favourite tips for beating overwhelm:

Meditation

Just three minutes a day can be hugely beneficial. I use the Headspace app every morning and find it helps to set me up for a calm and focused day. When I don’t meditate, I become twitchy and procrastinate much more.

Breathing

Similar to meditation the simple act of stopping for a few moments and taking several deep breaths in and out can have a profound impact on your wellbeing – mentally and physically.

Write it down

I do love a good to-do list, but after listening to a talk by fellow author, Mike Gardner – The Time Management Specialist, I’ve changed the way I operate and now only schedule three items on my daily to-do list. These are a top priority for the day and the only things I need to think about. It’s a great way of condensing an overwhelming list and batching it into short daily, and more manageable, chunks.

Notice your triggers

I was going to include the tip ‘just say no’ but if you’ve already reached maximum overwhelm then that tip might be a bit too late for you! Instead, try to take a step back and see why you feel so overwhelmed.  Is it too many responsibilities, coping on your own, environmental issues, or a looming deadline? Use a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings about this.

I was able to use this tool to help me understand that I’d taken on too many responsibilities. These tasks were relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but when bunched together with my other workload it became stressful.

It’s worth noting that the feelings you get when you’re overwhelmed can cause our system to flood with cortisol and adrenaline – the stress hormones, so working out why you’re feeling out of control can help avoid it in the future.

Ask for help

It’s such a simple statement, but it can be the hardest thing to do – ask for help. Wow, can you even say it out loud without cringing? Let’s imagine for one moment that I’d asked my seventeen-year-old to cut the grass, my sixteen-year-old to do a pile of ironing, and my twenty-year-old to grab a bottle of milk from the shop on his way home. How much easier would my day be if I’d only asked for help (from fully capable individuals) instead of mumbling about the chores and contemplating black coffee!

If you live alone or have younger children, this might not be so easy, but there are friends and family you can call on who would be more than happy to help. I talk about discovering our cheerleading squad in my book, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, which is being re-released on the 3rd January 2019, and how important it is to find that base and middle line who can support you, the flyer.

Don’t let the demands of your day allow you to feel out of control. These simple tips can be used to help you manage your time more effectively, cope with any bubbling feelings of stress, and deal with the issues head-on.

It’s worth mentioning the importance of eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and making time for fun and laughter to help you take back control. Learning to ground yourself while using a variety of personal development techniques will help you navigate life’s challenges.

Do you have a favourite technique that you use when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Share it with us in the comments below or join my Motivate Me Academy VIP Facebook Group for more discussions and advice.

18 comments

    1. It’s making a big difference to my day, April. Mike also recommended the Pomodoro technique which I’ve heard quite a few authors use with great success.

  1. A very timely reminder Shelley, especially as we near September when many start planning their year ahead – talk about pressure! I’ve always been pretty good at time management but the menopause has tried to put a dampener on things! Don’t know where I would be without my lists – I try and stick to five items a day and no more – my ‘Fundamental Five’ (…. ahem, not always successfully I would add!)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mel. I find that my anxiety and depression can put a dampener on my well laid organisational plans too. The lists definitely help to keep me focused! I love your ‘fundamental five’ idea 🙂

  2. You state: “…there are friends and family you can call on who would be more than happy to help.”

    No, there aren’t. Lots of us haven’t got anyone we can call on.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, Susan. Even though there are many people who don’t have friends or family to call on there are still people out there who are happy to help. I’ve added a couple of site links for Mind and the Samaritans as your comment may resonate with other readers too. Online forums and groups are another life line when dealing with overwhelm (or anything else for that matter) on your own. I have made valuable friends online who offer me support in various areas of my life, and although they live far away, and I’ve never met them in real life, I still consider them to be friends who I can call upon. Thanks for your comment.
      Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/
      Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrv-9wNiA3QIVLzPTCh0NAQU4EAAYASAAEgIWGvD_BwE

      1. Thanks for your reply.
        It’s kind of you to post those links, but although I’m alone all day, I’m fortunately not in the position of needing that sort of help as I’m not having any mental problems or suicidal tendencies.

        1. Hi Susan – I was a volunteer with the Samaritans for a few years and I promise you they are not just there for people who may feel suicidal. A lot of their help is just in the form of chatting and connecting with people if they feel they need such support. Appreciate you may not feel that this applies to you but, as Shelley says, just in case anyone else reading does.

  3. Thanks Shell. It may seem like stating the obvious at times…..but the bvious is usually exactly what we stress bunnies miss!

    1. 100% agree with that, Carol! I was talking to a friend yesterday and saying ‘we know this stuff – we just forget we know it’ xx

  4. This post is so well timed, Shelley. I’m feeling utterly overwhelmed with everything at the moment (moving house, closing down the business, summer holidays). I need to take a step back and breath, I think. I just need to find the time to do that ha. I’ve got a question re the to do list. If I don’t write down everything I need to do- I forget or it just goes round and and round my head until I’ve done it, SO would writing 2 lists be effective?! 1 list with everything I need to get done to complete these major tasks then another list with just the 3 things I need to do that day?

    1. Sorry to hear you’re feeling like this my lovely. Overwhelm always seems to sneak up on me and then hits me like a truck! I’m the same as you in that I need to do a brain dump so all those ‘jobs’ are out of my head. Yes, write it ALL down somewhere (possible hide it in a drawer or box once it’s written so you’re not looking at it every day), and then choose your 3 tasks a day. Try it out and see if it works for you. Good luck xx

  5. I’ve copied, pasted and printed this out, Shelley. Thank you.. At the end of my tether at the moment; my summer has been exactly like yours and the start of term is looming and I haven’t prepared any of my classes (creative writing for adults) yet because there are so many ‘summer’ promises/tasks not yet done. Sure hubby is sick of me weeping all over him! Lol. And nothing he can help with because these things are what other people have asked me to do. I have good friends but who wants to listen to whinging all the time? So am girding my loins/ taking myself in hand/ reading and following your plan. Back in a month to let you know how it works out.

    1. Oh Judith, I can totally resonate with how you’re feeling. That lack of control is a horrible sensation isn’t it. I hope the plan helps. I’ve stepped back from a couple of projects now which has given me some more time but I still have that fluttering panic in my chest. Weeping helps! I should have added a tip 6: watch a tear-jerker film/tv show to get it out of your system! Good luck with getting yourself in hand. xx

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