We all have times when we feel overwhelmed by life. We all experience moments when we feel life is throwing too much at us at once. We feel out of control. Our emotions feel all over the place. So what do we do when we feel overwhelmed by life?

Right now, I can really relate to feelings of overwhelm. At the beginning of 2022, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. My illness affects me every minute of every day. There is no escaping it. My main symptom is chronic fatigue which can be debilitating.

You certainly don’t need to have a chronic illness to feel overwhelmed. Life can be difficult at times.

Here are my thoughts on what to do when you feel overwhelmed by life.

Name it

Say to yourself – I feel overwhelmed right now.

The point of naming it is so that your ‘mean girl (or boy)’ doesn’t come out to play.  If you are already feeling overwhelmed you don’t want any name-calling going on (which let’s face it is what we often do when we are feeling stressed and frustrated with ourselves).

You don’t want your nasty self-talk taking over. That’s only going to make you feel worse.

Show yourself compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for the way you feel.

Related post – 3 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Positive Self-Talk  

Work out your main source of overwhelm

Where is your main source of overwhelm coming from? For me, it’s the endless fatigue and not being able to live my life due to not having enough energy.

What is your main source of overwhelm? Is it money problems? A relationship issue? Family conflicts?

When life is not going well we can be tempted to feel like everything in our life is crap but often there is one main problem that we need to focus on. Dealing with the problem might not be easy (it could be very complex and complicated) but at least you are aware of the problem you are dealing with.

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Seek out help

If you are struggling, seek out professional help. This is important and can help you. Never feel embarrassed to reach out for help. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and self-care.

It’s important to seek out the right sort of help. If you are grieving, it will help to speak to a grief specialist. If you are feeling depressed, reach out to someone who can help you. If like me, you are struggling with a chronic illness, there are specialists in this area who can help you as well.

Get onto Google and search for the services available in your area.

Many countries provide free and confidential help for people with depression. If you work for a Government department, you may even be able to access free assistance through an employee assistance program. Take the time to see what is available and book an appointment.

Books that can help with overwhelm and all the emotions that come along with it – 

Both of these books are excellent and I highly recommend them. I have both of them on my Kindle and refer back to them when I need to.

Buy on Amazon

Work on your most important task

If your overwhelm is caused by a lack of action, then it’s time to take action.

When you have a pile of work to do and you are not sure where to start, the obvious choice is to work on your most important task.

If you are not clear about what that task is take a moment to look through your workload and sort out which one is the most important. Often we know what our important task is, but there is an emotional block that is stopping us from taking action. That emotional block is often fear driven so it’s important we are aware of what’s actually holding us back.

Write up a prioritized to-do list

Often we feel overwhelmed because we simply have too much to damn do!

When we feel this way, it’s time for a prioritized to-do list. Sometimes just writing our list on paper (and getting it out of our head) can help alleviate some of our overwhelm.

Once we have our list, we must prioritize the list. Having too many things on our to-do list can just feel anxiety-inducing. There are lots of different ways to prioritize your list so choose whatever works for you. You might even want a separate list for work and home.

Delegate delegate delegate

Doing everything ourselves can make us feel overwhelmed.

You must learn to delegate. I understand this option isn’t always available but we should aim to try to delegate every opportunity that we can. It might be friends or family offering to help us or it could mean paying for professionals to work around the house.

I recently had a situation where my garden had completely overgrown and some large trees had gone over my neighbor’s fence. I tried to do the work myself. Unfortunately, this affected my negatively health and I had a setback that took weeks to recover from. In the end, it was much easier for me to pay some workman to cut the trees back. While it cost me money, it was worth it. It was done quickly, didn’t further impact my health, and alleviated a lot of anxiety I had been feeling.

When we are feeling overwhelmed, delegating and outsourcing are important ways for us to move forward.

Set boundaries

Boundaries are an important part of our lives. Without them, life can feel overwhelming.

Without boundaries, we turn into rampant people-pleasers, which can make us miserable and lead to resentment. You must know what your boundaries are. It’s even more important that you let the people in your life know what those boundaries are respectfully and politely.

We set boundaries so that people know how to treat us. A lot of the overwhelm in our lives can be averted by setting strong boundaries.

Related post – 10 Reasons You Are Saying Yes When You Want to Say No

Do something different

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed because we are bogged down in a particular project. We might be working on something so intensely that we struggle to think clearly on the matter.

In that case, it might help to switch projects and work on something different.

I find that tidying up and organizing is incredibly therapeutic when I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or upset. Clearing physical clutter away is perfect because it helps clear your mind as well.

Once I have done some tidying, I return to my original project.

Take time out

Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, it can help to step back from the problem and take a moment to breathe.

Grab a cup of tea (or coffee), sit quietly, and take some time to relax. Reading a book can be good (as long as it’s not related to your problem).

Chill with your pets, or spend some quality time with your family and friends. Spending time out in nature or meditating can both be helpful to clear our minds. Insight Timer has some excellent free meditations that can help calm your mind and body.

Work on your mindset

When are feeling overwhelmed it can be easy to feel sorry for ourselves. If we are not careful, we can fall into a victim mindset.

Working on our mindset is important. This isn’t just about being positive all the time. The truth is sometimes we need to express our negative feelings. We need to work through our feelings of sadness, frustration, and overwhelm. Processing our feelings is how we work through them and bounce back in life.

Books to help with your mindset – 

I have both of these books myself and whip them out for a quick reread when I feel my mindset shifting.

Feel overwhelmed

We all feel overwhelmed at times. Life can be challenging, exciting, and complex. Our attitude and mindset play a huge role in how we deal with what life throws our way. Our goal is to get back up, dust ourselves off, and keep moving forward with determination, strength, and joy. Even when it’s hard. 

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