How to overcome overwhelm!

When the world literally feels like it’s crashing down on you; when your thoughts and feelings are jumping from one place to another and it’s impossible to make sense of any of them – what do you do?

We all know the feeling of overwhelm and how debilitating it can make you feel.  It happens to all of us at some point; you feel lost in the emotions, it’s impossible to think straight and make any clear decision in that moment. There are many ways you might show you are overwhelmed as well; from stress to anxiety, to worry and doubt.

Whether you are feeling overwhelmed by your never ending ‘to- dos’, anxious about how you will get everything done or dealing with overwhelm from personal issues – managing your overwhelm is the same.  The reality is that most people don’t manage it at all and everything and everyone around them is negatively affected.

What you need to do is bring your emotions and thoughts back to a place of clarity so you can then make a more informed decision of what you want to do.


Here’s what I’ve learnt about feeling overwhelmed and my 4 Do’s and Don’ts  to manage it.


  1. DO – Allow yourself to feel the emotions; the overwhelm and frustration. I’d even go as far as to say – let it all out – cry, scream, whatever it takes, but get all that energy and emotion out of you!

DON’T try to block or stop your emotions. Your body needs to release them and your mind. You can’t move forward with built up emotion – get it out!!


  1. DO Always remind yourself that this is temporary and will pass. When we are overwhelmed we have a sense of something bad lurking around the corner or we think of the worst case scenarios. Calm your subconscious down and remind yourself that it is temporary and you will find the right solutions and it will turn out ok. Reaffirming this to yourself immediately diminishes the overwhelm.

DON’T say things to yourself like – I’m never going to manage this – I’ll never get everything done! Why me….You are setting yourself up for panic!! You are what you think.


  1. DO – Take time to identify the overwhelm. Take out a piece of paper and write down the different things that are happening that are making you feel overwhelmed. Separate your thoughts, number the different things that are making you feel this way and list them individually.

DON’T keep everything in your head and think you can clarify all your thoughts and feelings from there.

If you have a million things to do, write down why it’s overwhelming you. You should be working with a plan – so it’s probably something about the way you are planning that’s not working or a lack of plan all together!!!

Understand what is contributing to your overwhelm so you can deal with each contributor individually.


  1. DOEmpower yourself to manage all the contributing factors. Looking at your list – you will probably either need to come up with an action of what you must do to resolve or start to fix the ‘problem’  Or perhaps…after reflecting on the contributors, you might need to change how you are viewing what’s happening and you will feel different about it.

DON’T  ignore the situation and just think it will resolve itself in the future.

If you have a huge list of things you need to get through; say to yourself; ‘I will get through this all and what’s the best way?’ Or ask yourself; ‘What do I need to do to get everything done?’

Ask yourself more empowering questions like…

  • Whats the best way to solve this?
  • How can I feel in control again?
  • What will work? What needs to happen?


Learning to manage your emotions effectively and taking the steps to overcome your overwhelm, will support you in taking the better action in the moment; that will you will benefit from more than letting your emotions hijack you.

Remember that life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once, as Paulo Coelho said.

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how to deal with it.

To your Success

Kirstin ODonovan

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