What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

You’ve finally moved into your dream home. But there’s a sense of overwhelm that you can’t shake off. You should be happy, but you can’t even spare a minute alone to appreciate what you have because of the sheer volume of things that you need to unpack.

You’ve just been promoted at work. And yet you don’t feel that you have made a significant career accomplishment. Instead of celebrating, you have found yourself working long hours, drowning in paperwork.

You’ve just been given your new bundle of joy. But it sometimes feels like you may have bitten more than you could swallow. One look at the baby, and you cannot help but feel at tug at your heartstrings. And yet you can barely set aside time to do anything not baby-related.

What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

You’re feeling overwhelmed.

It feels like you are swimming sluggishly in a pool of mud, barely able to keep yourself afloat. Or you feel like you are paddling a small boat against the waves. And the waves keep on coming, getting bigger and bigger.

Keeping yourself afloat in a sea of overwhelm

With the demands at home and work, it can sometimes be challenging to find a way to cope and move forward, even by a small margin.
It happens to practically everyone. And there are a few things that you can do to help you find your bearings when you find yourself paralyzed by everything going on in your life.

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Stop and meditate

When your to-do list seems to be growing longer, it may seem counterintuitive to stop and meditate. However, meditation has been proven to help people when they feel stressed and overwhelmed.

By setting aside a few minutes for meditation, you can attain focus while reducing the anxiety
that you might be feeling now. In turn, that can help you gather yourself toward action.

Go for quick wins

One reason you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that you need to tick off your to-do list is that you are afraid to tackle the significant tasks that you need to get done.

By focusing your attention on smaller tasks, you accomplish two things. First, you strike off a few tasks from your to-do list. Second, you build momentum that you can use to power your way through larger jobs.

What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

Learn to say “no”

When you are overwhelmed, the last thing that you need to do is to commit to tasks that you may not be able to accomplish properly.
If circumstances allow it, say no to additional tasks. Or at the very least, bargain and ask to schedule these at a later time if possible.

Ask for help

In most cases, you will find that support is around. All you have to do is ask. At home, you can ask your spouse, kids, or even your neighbors for assistance on some of the things that you can do. At work, you can delegate some of the tasks assigned to you so you can focus on more important matters.

If this is not the first time that you encountered this situation, you might want to seek the help of a professional psychology service that can help you work out the underlying issues that are plaguing you and hindering you from performing well.

Learn to prioritize

Perhaps you would like to spend a day at the beach or hang out with your friends. But with the long list of tasks waiting for you to accomplish, you just can’t. And you shouldn’t, at least for now.

When you find yourself overwhelmed, you have to focus on the essential things that you need to do, even if there are a few things that you would rather do. Prioritize the needs over the wants, always.

Resist the temptation to multitask

When you find yourself swamped with commitments, it may seem tempting to do two or more things at the same time. However, research upon research has proven that multitasking does not work.

You’ll only find yourself mentally drained by trying to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. Worse, the quality of your work may suffer, in some instances, requiring you to do one thing all over again.Focus your attention on one task and finish it before moving to something else.

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Distance yourself, momentarily

If you can’t seem to find your rhythm try to distance yourself momentarily from the environment you are in.
For example, if you are at work, don’t eat at your work table. Go out and eat your lunch outside or just go to the office break room to have a brief chat with your office mates.

At home, if you are overwhelmed, go for a quick run or hit the gym for a few minutes. Creating this temporary distance allows you to gather yourself and recharge your energy, enabling you to come back focused and refreshed to tackle the things that you need to finish.

Don’t lose sight of the long term

When your tasks begin piling up, and you can’t find a glimmer of hope, remember that this particular moment is just one segment of your life.

As the days go by, you will find your footing and make substantial progress, no matter how slow. Through diligence and the help of the people around you, you can move past this stumbling block.

At this moment, when you feel overwhelmed, do not forget to take care of yourself. Eat. Take quick breaks. Walk outside. Ask for help. Even if you have plenty of pending tasks for the following days, you can catch up and finish everything on your plate.

At home and work, people can become overwhelmed. It happens.
The critical thing to remember is to look at the bigger picture and avoid being bogged down by details that may seem significant today, but when you look at them in hindsight, they are just inconsequential things. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge the fact that though things may move sluggishly today, you will get past these later.


Dr. Gemma Gladstone is an endorsed clinical psychologist and certified schema therapist, supervisor and trainer. Along with Justine Corry, she is co-director of the Good Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 24 years of experience within mental health.– (Other bio, if requested by client) Justine Corry is a clinical psychologist and enjoys helping people get to the heart of what is not working in their lives. Along with Dr. Gemma Gladstone, she is co-director of the Good
Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 10 years of experience within private practice.

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