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When you experience overwhelm, it can feel all consuming.  We often start feeling overwhelmed when we have too much do to or feel there is too little time to do it in.  Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of business and life, but if left unchecked, that feeling of overwhelm can make you feel completely helpless, stuck and unable to take action.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?  When you experience feelings of overwhelm, it can make you feel you have no control over your life.  Overwhelm can make you feel paralysed, trapped, stressed and unable to cope.

Even on a good day, life can feel overwhelming.  In our busy lives it’s easy to experience feelings of overwhelm with all of the complexity and complication that happens around us.

If you’re experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed right now, this article will share what it means to feel overwhelmed and share 6 tips on how to stop feeling overwhelmed.  When you can stop overwhelm you’ll feel clearer, less stressed and more confident.

What does it mean to feel overwhelmed? 

By definition, being overwhelmed means not being in control and being unsure what step to take next.  When we experience overwhelm, we feel paralysed, stress and trapped.  The feeling of being overwhelmed causes us to feel stuck and unable to focus or take decisive action.  We often experience the feeling of being overwhelmed when we have too many choices to make or too many things to do.

What causes you to feel overwhelmed?

Overwhelm may be caused by stress, personal experiences and a feeling of having too much going on.  Feelings of overwhelm can affect your ability to think clearly and take action.  If you feel overwhelmed it can prevent you from focusing clearly.

When you feel overwhelmed it prevents you from identifying and working on your most important activities.  Overwhelm may be caused by long to-do lists, impending deadlines, relationship issues, emotions, trying to do too much or feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day.

When overwhelm strikes it’s easy to feel trapped and stuck which creates inaction.

How to stop feeling overwhelmed 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, here are 6 tips to stop overwhelm.

1. Identify the source of overwhelm 

Feeling overwhelmed is a temporary feeling. Take ownership of your feelings of being overwhelmed and take responsibility for accepting to do all of the things that make you feel overwhelmed.

You may have taken on too much work, which creates the overwhelm.  You may have too much going on in your life, which creates overwhelming feelings.

Instead of planning effectively, you may have given yourself too tight deadlines to get things done.

If you’re running from meeting to meeting, handling multiple projects and probably not giving the right attention and focus to the ones that really mattered, you will experience overwhelming feelings.

Instead of doing everything, take a step back and get clear on the projects, people and activities that create the biggest impact.  Read more about how to stop feeling overwhelmed at work

2. Set boundaries around your time 

When we feel overwhelmed, it’s often because we feel we have no time, but we are more in control of our time than we think.

This may be because you have lots of projects to work on and many impending deadlines but you can make changes to give yourself some time to think and focus.

Even though you may have a huge amount of projects to work on, you can still create space to think and plan.  Buy yourself more time by finding team mates to take on some of the work.

If you don’t have the right levels of energy and focus to maximise your unique strengths you won’t be fully committed and the work won’t be as good.

You can always create more time by saying no to a project or delegating.  If you can automate some of the processes that are taking up your time, even better.

This will help you stop feeling overwhelmed.  Read more about how to manage time effectively.

3. Stop comparing to avoid overwhelm 

Overwhelming feelings are amplified when we compare ourselves to others and take on everything because others are doing the same thing.

We take on too much because we don’t want to miss opportunities or disappoint our bosses, our loved ones or our friends.  When we experience fear of missing out, overwhelm can rear its head.

We sometimes feel like we should say yes to everything, to take on everything.  But if we gave ourselves some headspace to reflect, we would say no more often.

If we are more intentional about what we can control and what we can do in the present moment, you will feel calmer and more resourceful.

4. Change your perspective 

When we’re feeling overwhelmed we often get so wrapped up in the moment that we can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

We can’t see a present and future that’s not full of constant tasks, commitments, projects and busy work.  Learn to be present in the moment and to be intentional with your time.

This is actually the optimal time to step back, reflect and think about what you have achieved and will achieve during this busy period.

Ask yourself what lessons can you learn that can help you move forward in the right way?

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take time to understand and reflect on your experience and look at the positives.

This puts you in an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset.

5. Identify your priorities 

We feel overwhelmed when we have too much on.  This leads to multi-tasking, which can sap our energy levels and focus.

Your workload may look impossible, but by focusing on the most important thing first, you will get out of overwhelm, and actually make progress.  One productivity tip that will work for you to stop overwhelming feelings is to reflect at the end of the day on everything that you achieved.

Pick three things that went really well.  Then think about the next day and the three things that you want to achieve that day.

If you are focused on achievement and progress, rather than the sheer weight of work, you will stay motivated and energised rather than feeling overwhelmed.  Read more about how to be more productive.

6. Focus on rest and rejuvenation

I learnt this lesson a long time ago and it has really helped me through any really busy period.

Rest and rejuvenation are essential for doing your most productive work and stop you feeling overwhelmed.

Personally, I can take on most things if I feel energised and had a good nights’ sleep.

We all have different periods of the day where we just seem to work a bit better.  For me, it is the morning.  For you, it may be in the evening.

If I am tired, I can lose motivation and perspective.  Things can often feel bigger than they actually are.

When I’m overworked I can also become easily distracted.  What about you?

Also, if you are feeling overwhelmed, take yourself out of the situation, and give yourself five minutes to think through the situation you’re in.

Go for a walk, go to the gym, meditate – whatever works for you to get refocused.  If you feel tired all the time, use these tips to overcome tiredness.

Summing up

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, simplify your time, energy and focus.  The key to overcoming feelings of overwhelm is to feel clear, calm and confident.  To be proactive, rather than reactive.

To succeed both personally and professionally, it’s essential to build self-care into our lives by carving out space to think and rejuvenate and spend time with the people that matter most.

When we don’t then we’ll constantly feel overwhelmed.

If you’re experiencing overwhelm right now, instead of running nonstop, or feeling stuck, with no end in sight to your overwhelming feeling, you now have 6 strategies you can use to get into confident, focused action.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

What’s the one thing that creates the most overwhelm for you?

What’s your best tip for getting out of overwhelm?

Let me know in the comments.

Further reading 

Overwhelmed at work? 10 strategies to beat stress

About the Author

Mark Pettit is the Founder of Lucemi Consulting and a small business coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results.

Get more tips to overcome overwhelm and be more productive on the blog.

Sign up to my Time For What Matters newsletter to get exclusive self-improvement and self-confidence tips delivered directly to your inbox.


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Productivity Planner by Mark Pettit of Lucemi Consulting

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