How to overcome overwhelm

What to do when you feel like you’re drowning

Master overwhelm and move on to ease

Hello my friends, welcome to Chapter 44 of Sanguine Stories. This month we’re exploring Sanguine Element #7: Simplify and today we’ll be looking at how to overcome overwhelm.

Because feeling overwhelmed doesn’t just happen at the holidays!

With the demands of work, family, friends, and even self-care placed on us every day, it’s easy to fall into a state of feeling overwhelmed.

For some, having overly high expectations for ourselves can lead to feelings of guilt and failure as we constantly compare ourselves to the accomplishments of those around us. For others, overwhelming feelings can occur simply by being subjected to too much stimulation–the noise of people or machines around them, walking into a crowded room, or even being touched a certain way.

The holiday seasons, which should be a time of joy and fun, can make some people feel completely overwhelmed and overcome with high levels of stress.

So how do we overcome overwhelm and reduce the stress, creating a more easeful and happy life?

First, let’s be clear – the state of being overwhelmed isn’t always due to “the bad” things in life. The passing of a loved one, for example, is sure to overwhelm as the person comes to terms with their loss. In contrast, the addition of a baby can be one of the most exciting events to ever happen, yet it’s also overwhelming for many parents.

What causes you to reach the point of feeling overwhelmed is different for every person, but the root of the emotions that come with being overwhelmed share common factors. Depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, irritability, sadness, those are all just a few emotions that people often experience during times of feeling overwhelmed.

We’ve all been there, right?

Here’s how to act as soon as you start to feel your internal pressure gauge rising with these 5 ways to overcome overwhelm.

  1. Prioritize and Plan Your Tasks

As we see our productivity begin to lessen due to too many tasks on our plate, overwhelm starts to set in and can often lead to procrastination, which is just the start of a vicious self-criticizing cycle.

Sit down and write out the tasks you need to do, listing them in order of priority starting with the most urgent tasks. That’s what I do every morning.  I review my task list and determine what must absolutely be done that day and what is reasonable for me to get done.

Look at the week or month ahead of you and decide a deadline for each task. Using a planner is ideal for this as it allows you to more easily visualize your goals, leave notes for yourself, and watch the progress of your tasks as you complete them, which provides good feelings of accomplishment.

I know that I LOVE being able to mark a task complete in my online scheduler.

If your overwhelm is coming from a particular event, write down all that you need to do, figure out what will take the most time and start working on those tasks now.

My DIY Wellness Retreat is the perfect place to start in helping you focus in on what’s most important and what actions you need to take!

  1. Lessen Your Expectations

Holding yourself to other people’s expectations isn’t a good thing. It can help keep us in check, but it can also wear us down. You need to decide if the expectations of others are too demanding, irrational, or unacceptable. Write down the expectations that others have of you that first come to mind, these are what you are subconsciously viewing as the most important. Then decide if these expectations are warranted or not. Can you fully accomplish what they are asking for? Is what they are asking for hurting you in some way?

If you need help deciding, ask a trusted friend or mentor. It’s okay to say no when someone asks you to do something that you either can’t or don’t want to.

Sometimes it’s the expectations we place on ourselves that cause us to feel overwhelmed. Take a look at all that you have scheduled for yourself and see what tasks are really most important as well as what tasks can you maybe let go of or delegate to someone else? Take care of yourself, my friends, be kind and don’t overload yourself, no matter the time of year.

  1. Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many of us want to be self-sufficient and independent, and believe that we have to do it all on our own. That’s not the case! If you’re struggling with a task and it’s holding you back, ask someone to help you. If you have no one to ask, allow yourself to put that task on the back burner until you have less on your plate.

Coming back to the holidays, if the thought of preparing a holiday meal for your friends and family becomes too overwhelming, ask your guests to help by bringing one of the side dishes or coming over early to help you get set up.  You do not need to do it all!

  1. Don’t Give Up

Throwing in the towel may seem like an optimal response to feeling overwhelmed, but it often leads to a cycle of being upset with yourself afterward as feelings of regret and failure set in.

Instead of giving up on something, simply walk away from it for a little while. Give yourself a break for a few minutes, hours, or even days depending on how soon a decision needs to be made or a task needs to be completed.

Go over some of the challenges you’re facing and try to see how you can lessen those challenges to make the results more easily attainable. Each time you overcome a hurdle, you are reassuring yourself that you are fully capable of getting things done.

  1. Give Yourself Time

Always take time for yourself and never feel guilty for it! If you’re 15 minutes into a task and you are finding your thoughts wandering, there’s a good chance you’re feeling overwhelmed.

It may sound counter-intuitive but taking a 5-minute break, prioritizing the steps in your task, and then returning to it will help you feel more confident going forward.

Apply this same rule to personal time. If you aren’t getting quality, personal time to yourself, you will become overwhelmed with everything going on around you. Never be afraid to take a break for minutes, hours, or days to emotionally ground and stabilize yourself. It could be something as simple as reading some pages out of a book while having a cup of coffee, painting your nails after your child goes to sleep — anything that’s healthy self-care for you.

Taking time for self-care is one of the most important steps on how to overcome overwhelm.

Giving yourself that time to regroup and refocus helps lessen the feelings that we all too often experience when we’ve taken on too much or we don’t feel like there’s enough time in the day to get everything done.

The next time you find yourself saying – there’s too much to do, I’m so stressed out – come back to these 5 steps and see how you can reduce the feeling of overwhelm in your life.

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I’d love to hear from you… What causes you to feel overwhelmed and how do you manage overwhelm in your everyday life? g


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chrissy gruningerChrissy Gruninger is an author and mindset coach. She mentors people on how to live their ONE beautiful life, wherever they may be. Her latest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana explores her life in Costa Rica and both the challenges of working and living abroad as well as the beautiful life we can create from those experiences.

She loves her rainforest beach shack in Costa Rica, the sunshine and the rain and passionately believes that through intentional actions we create more happiness, health and harmony in the world. 

Her goal: to empower others to thrive in an imperfect world.