25 Bold Ways to Avoid the Trap of Overwhelm


“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” ~ Gandhi

There seems to be an outbreak of overwhelm on the planet. Everyone seems to think they need to always be on the internet or on the go. 

When you feel overwhelmed, stop and listen to what you’re telling yourself about your work, your time and your life.  In order to change your feelings, you have to change your thoughts. You could say overwhelm is all in your head!

We forget that life is in the moment. Nothing else exists. We only have to live in the now and do one thing at a time. 

Overwhelm is a story we tell ourselves. It offers us an excuse to get out of what we don’t want to do or don’t feel we can do. Overwhelm is an illusion.

We decide how to live our lives one choice at a time. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, you might find the following tips helpful.

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Begin your day by doing your most difficult task. Set your timer for 15 minutes and begin. Usually that’s all it takes to get going.  Work until it’s finished. You’ll feel less fear. You’ll have completion.

2. Clear your clutter. Get organized. Take 15 minutes at the end of your day to clear off your desk and list your three most important tasks for the following day. 

3. Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is an energy giver. Just do it. When you are under pressure, don’t skip meals. Choose food that is good for you. Don’t give up sleep to get more done. Sleep gives clarity and focus.

4. Sit still. Listen for guidance. We avoid getting quiet because we fear what we might learn. We prefer to keep busy, rush or be distracted. It’s less painful than admitting we might need to do something different or change.

5. Share the load. Give up perfection. Learn to delegate. If you can’t afford to hire someone, find a way to barter. Release your burden and allow others to feel needed.

6. Appreciate what you have now. Having is about the present moment. Appreciate where you are and how much you have. Wanting is about the future. Your focus is on what you don’t have now but what will make you happy in the future.

7. Breathe. If you’re feeling anxious or fearful about the future, still your mind and concentrate on your breath. Center yourself and be in the present moment. It’s the only time you have. 

8. Eliminate the need for perfection. Stop over-analyzing and over-thinking everything. Do your best and let the rest go. Too many inventions and products never come to fruition because they’re never good enough. Perfection doesn’t exist. 

9. Take regular breaks, get-aways and vacations. You can’t love life if it’s only filled with to-do lists and work. Don’t wait until someday. Schedule your free time and then take it.

10. Get a new perspective. Step outside. Take a walk. Move to another room. Sit in a different chair.  A different location brings clarity and a different perspective. Just move!

11. Make a list. Write down the thoughts that are filling your head. Write down what you need to do, want to do and should do. Write down good ideas and distracting thoughts. Go back to it later and cross out anything that’s not important or necessary.

12. Pamper yourself. When you meet your own needs with love, you’re less likely to feel run down and worn out. Make self-care a priority. You’ll feel good, look good and do good.

13. Make Sunday a fun day. Give yourself a full day for play and laughter. Recharge, rest and relax. Turn off your electronics.  Spend time with the people you care about. Give them your undivided attention.

14. Take one day at a time. Do what you can and forget the rest. Whatever it is that you’re struggling with, remember: this too shall pass. 

15. Get over feeling like everything is so important. When you stop overextending yourself, you feel less overwhelm. Give up control and go with the flow. 

16. Be mindful.  Notice when you are distracted. Let those things float out of your awareness like a passing cloud. Continue to focus on the task at hand.  Repeat, “There is nothing to fear.”

17. Believe in yourself. Keep a success journal. Note what you got right. Celebrate what goes right. Create a feeling of success. Visualize the end result that you want to see.

18. Manage your energy. Do your most difficult tasks when you have the most energy. Do the easiest when you have the lowest amount. 

19. Change your thoughts. Do these sound familiar?  I’ll never get everything finished. I’m not capable. What else can go wrong? I have too much on my plate. Change your self-defeating thoughts: I’ll finish one thing at a time. I’m good at this. Tomorrow is another day. Overwhelm comes from your thinking. Manage your thoughts and your feelings will change.

20. Don’t judge yourself. Let yourself off the hook. You’re only human. Don’t compare yourself to others. You usually don’t win. Own your strengths. Learn to think well of yourself. Tomorrow’s another day.

21. Do what brings you joy. Stop at your favorite coffee shop. Call your best friend. Spend time in nature. Get a massage. Take a long drive. Stop and enjoy life. 

22. Struggle is a choice. We create our lives. We decide what to do and when to do it. We choose to get support or go it alone. We decide when to hang on and when to let go. Overwhelm is an illusion and an addiction. It gives us an excuse.

23. Let go of the need to feel important. We are part of a culture that thrives on busy-ness. We live in a society that chases money and fame. We want to stand out and be noticed. Don’t fall into that rut. Enjoy now.

24. Live a life of gratitude. Appreciate everything about your life. Be grateful for who you are and accept where you are today. Make it a practice to count your blessings every evening. 

25. Find someone to help. Complaining about being overwhelmed is like being a victim. Poor me. It may even give us a sense of false importance. Find someone who is struggling and help them out. Really give of yourself, time and money. You’ll come away with a new perspective. Seriously.

Help me help others by sharing on Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate it. 

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Sandra Pawula March 16, 2014, 11:55 am

    How synchronous, Tess. This topic has so been on my mind as you will see from my blog post below! :) I find the voice of overwhelm can sometimes be and entwined with beliefs planted early in life even though it’s an illusion we create. It can be tricky so I have to stay aware and awake! These 25 tips are perfect for bringing more clarity and balance in to life.

    I especially like the first, doing the most important or hardest task first. When I do this, I feel so much more spacious and free!

    • Tess March 16, 2014, 4:59 pm

      Hi Sandra,
      I’ll be over to check out your article. We’ve always been on the same page, eh?

  • Jeffrey Willius March 16, 2014, 2:21 pm

    Very helpful for me today, Tess. I’m in the middle of tackling the hardest, most worrisome task, but a few more tough ones await…

    • Tess March 16, 2014, 5:00 pm

      Wait…no worries. Just breathe;) You can do this!

  • Martine Joseph March 17, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Tess, I relate to number 2 and 3 especially. Every week or so I like to do my filing and other admin tasks. Suddenly, I’m so much better able to concentrate on what I really want to be doing! Now that Spring is finally approaching, I’ve returned to exercise. What a difference it makes on all levels! Thanks for these reminders.

  • Elle March 17, 2014, 1:26 pm

    #1 is my bete noir Tess. Yet when I do start my day as you say, it feels soooo much better. I like the idea of setting a timer…it might just be enough to fool my mind and as you say, once you get started it’s easy. Great tips.

  • Jackie March 18, 2014, 3:11 pm

    I love your comment about how being quiet brings up fear of what we might learn. I think this is so powerful and true. This fear is not just about our resistances, fears, worries, etc. But also, importantly, about our potential and the internal wisdom asking for our attention.

  • Tess March 18, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Good point. So true. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom!!!

  • Joel March 19, 2014, 3:06 am

    Hey Tess,

    Great post. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed in our age of unremitting connectivity, and feel obligated to constantly produce. My new goal is to unplug and take more time to read, without feeling guilty that I should be working.


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