8 Tips To Handle Being Overwhelmed

8 tips to handle being overwhelmed

8 tips to handle being overwhelmed

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal 8 powerful strategies to handle being overwhelmed.

First a quick update:

“The dangers of being your child’s best friend”
Read the transcript of the interview I gave to a researcher about a new trend of parents trying to be friends with their children. I also reveal motivations, significance and consequences of mothers who are dressed by their daughters.

“Kim Kardashian & Miley Cyrus – confidence or disorders?”
Read my insights into the difference between common narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Now, let’s talk about the 8 highly effective strategies to help you handle and overcome being overwhelmed.

The dictionary defines ‘overwhelm’ as overpowered, overcome; overcome completely in mind and feeling; to cover over or bury completely; to defeat completely and decisively.

The above sums up the various ways many people feel when they are faced with countless challenges, tasks, expectations, duties and responsibilities in life – at work and at home – the feeling of being buried, completely overcome, defeated, afraid or anxious. A person feeling overwhelmed might also feel trapped, with a sense that everything is bigger than her and that she is small or helpless.

Feeling overwhelmed results in stress – which creates more problems as the body releases cortisol and epinephrine, leading to chronic inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and autoimmune disease.

While everyone has probably experienced momentary overwhelm (an event, a day), in this newsletter I would like to reveal the ways to overcome chronic overwhelm (a persistent and long-lasting sensation and experience of feeling overwhelmed.)

1. Simplify
Simplifying your life is the first and most critical step to reducing stress, avoiding being overwhelmed and taking charge of your life. Simplifying is a conscious decision of willingness to let go of certain things in your life; to reduce expectations. It is a mindset.  And you cannot do the next steps until you have done this first one.

2. Prioritize – and write it down
After deciding to simplify every area of your life, write out a list of everything that you feel you need to do and achieve in your life (including responsibilities and daily tasks.) Begin to prioritize each item. Which ones are urgent and critical? Which ones can you release? Which ones are meaningful and enrich your life and which ones do not?

Also create a simple analysis of how you spend your time each day by writing out one sample day – from the moment you wake up to when you sleep. You will be shocked when you look at a spreadsheet of how your hours and time are being spent.

3. Avoid distractions & information overload
It is highly obvious and yet few people follow this advice: Review every area of your life – starting with your daily schedule – and identify all of the meaningless distractions. In each case, ask “Does this help me get closer to my goals or does it pull me away from my goals? Does this relax me or stress me further?” Reading and surfing the internet is rarely relaxing or empowering, particularly if you are constantly reading the news or meaningless stories and articles. As I explained to a group attending one of my seminars: beware that the intention of most news and lifestyle articles is to provoke you to read them and therefore they write with the intention to anger and frustrate you and thus motivate you to post a comment.

Also beware of over thinking and an overlaod of useless information. Tradtional Chinese Medicine teaches that many problems associated with indigestion come from over thinking i.e. spending hours in front of the computer, ruminating and worrying incessantly in whichever form. You will know if you are suffering from information overload and worry if you wake up around 3:30 AM and toss and turn with constant thoughts or unresolved emotions.

Also, reduce the information overload by being willing to ignore or delete emails without reading them. Curiosity or the fear of missing out makes many people open and read lengthy, fruitless emails and gossip. When you take charge of your curiosity and the fear of loss, you will feel more in control of your life.

4. Let go – adjust expectations
This is directly tied to the first step of simplifying your life – let go of your own expectations of yourself. Yes, people have created expectations of you but you have agreed to them. Are you a perfectionist? Are you expecting more than you can deliver and do you expect the same of others? Are you putting everyone else first even though it is harming you? What do you need so you will stop now taking on too much?

5. Chunk down tasks
When feeling overwhelmed, it is common to feel that you are small in the midst of an insurmountable mountain. Every large task can be broken down into small pieces. Use a written list to chunk down the mammoth tasks. When you do this, the tasks will shrink and you will feel more in control of the challenges at hand. However, do the hardest challenge first and it will give you impetus, confidence and motivation to keep going.

6. Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is yet another cliché. But few people heed it or understand it. You cannot take care of anyone else until you can take care of yourself. You cannot help anyone else when you are sick or when you break down.

You are not an invincible machine. Your mind, body, spirit and soul need nourishing. Constant pressure, stress, unhealthy eating and sedentary habits lead to adrenal exhaustion as well as a host of cognitive problems – memory loss, inability to concentrate and crazy thoughts. Read my article where I reveal the ways that stress shrinks the brain and can lead to addiction, depression, loss of impulse control and diabetes.

One of the fastest ways to take care of yourself and reduce stress is to adjust your food. It is amazing that most people fail to realize that we eat not to fill an empty hole but rather to nourish the body. If you are not eating three healthy complete meals a day, your body will not receive the necessary nutrients and energy it requires to perform properly – and yes it will negatively impact your brain and hormones which in turn will create a host of problems for your Thyroid, Adrenals and other necessary bodily functions.

Exercise is another cliché and yet it is also critical strategy and component to avoiding being overwhelmed. Engage in cardio-focused exercise. If you are too tired or fatigued to engage in exercise, then simply walk and ensure that you are breathing deeply. Focus on your breath as you walk. Consult your doctor.

7. Release anxiety & guilt
Fear is a major contributor to stress and overwhelm: fear of failure, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of loss of control. Anxiety is caused when we try to control what we cannot control. Distinguish between what is within your control and what is not. Become aware of the guilt in your life; are you acting out of guilt? Are you driven by fear and obligation versus joy and purpose? One client struggled to take a day off and enjoy the sun and beach, even though she lives in front of the ocean; she felt guilty about having fun and putting herself first. Are you allowed to have fun? Do the activities that bring you joy.

8. Ask help – say no
Stress occurs when we feel the task is too big to handle, it is something we have never done before (uncertainty, unfamiliarity) or we simply lack the training or experience to execute the task properly (we doubt our abilities.)

Give yourself permission to ask for help. Be willing to admit that you need support. Above all, be open to saying “No” even if it disappoints others. Begin to put yourself first by listening to your heart and intuition.

The key to reducing all stress is to seek balance and inner peace. Establish your values and priorities in life and let them lead you.

You can find a wealth of help and information here about how to overcome stress including a link to some of my free audio programs designed to neutralize stress: Click here.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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7 replies
  1. Avatar
    Libby from Melbourne says:

    Thanks Patrick for this great article. I sometimes wake at exactly 3.30 am and toss and turn, when I really don’t have any overwhelming thoughts, however in this day of constant technology I am guilty of information overload. I listen to non fiction audio books as I walk, I am on the computer most of the day checking emails, researching and trading currencies. Unbelievable how it is 3.30 am and not any other time. All the best from downunder !!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Libby,
      I am glad that my article is helpful to you.
      If you are waking up at 3:30 AM and don’t have any overwhelming thoughts, consider if you have other strong emotions such as sadness, grief or sorrow. You might be busy but do you feel fulfilled? Also, simply become aware as soon as you do wake up at that time as to the thoughts and emotions you are feeling/experiencing at that moment. And yes, reduce and limit your computer time; you will notice that it along with all the gadgets are most likely controlling you! Replace them with fun activities and I guaranteed you will sleep better. Let me know how you do.
      All the best,

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