Feeling overwhelmed can look and feel different for all of us.
Perhaps you don’t know what to do next, because there’s too much to complete. Maybe you’re feeling extra tired or irritable lately. And maybe you feel weighed down by the external expectations everyone else seems to be placing on you.
This is a common challenge for women. We’re taught (usually by watching and learning from our mothers) to take care of everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. And we feel pressured to have an amazing body, a made-up face, the dream career, a perfect husband and kids, and a vibrant social life.
We’ve convinced ourselves it should be a breeze, because she seems to be managing, so why shouldn’t I?
And if we struggle, even for a moment, we feel like we’re failing womanhood.
But this is not what being a woman is about.
It’s not possible to do it all, and be everything everyone wants you to be, all at the same time.
This realisation may initially feel like failure; but what it really is is a gentle nudge from the universe to create a shift.
To say no more often, or to ask for help when you need it. To let go of other people’s expectations, and start putting your own needs and wants first.
Feeling overwhelmed can actually be a beautiful gift, because it invites us to pause, reflect, and see where we’re out of harmony in our lives.
And it’s a chance to change things. To do things differently; maybe even better than you did before.
Here’s what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and over it.
1. Allow yourself to feel how you feel
We’ve come to view certain feelings as good, and others as bad, but our feelings are just a reflection of what’s going on within. They offer us insight into where we may be lacking or pushing in our lives, so that we can then find our way back to harmony.
So allow yourself to feel all your feelings. Don’t rush to “fix” them, or make yourself instantly feel better. Nobody feels amazing or on top of the world all the time. That’s not natural.
If you’re in a negative head space, then think about where those feelings stem from. Next, ask yourself what you can do to move yourself into a more positive space?
2. Ask yourself: what do I need right now?
Forget what you think you should do, or what other people want you to do for a moment. Because usually, that’s what leaves us feeling overwhelmed in the first place.
Find some stillness, and ask yourself, what do I need right now?
Maybe you need a cup of tea, and five minutes away from your computer. Maybe you need to lie down for ten minutes while your partner takes care of the kids. Or maybe you need a change of scenery, and some fresh air.
Think about what you need in this moment, and give that gift to yourself.
3. Take a break
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s usually because you’ve been working too hard, or you’re trying to spin too many plates at once. And it’s not your fault.
We live in this toxic hustle culture, where we’re expected to work like machines until our eyes bleed, which can lead us to neglect all other areas of our lives.
And I get it. I understand the conflict many of us feel between wanting to be successful and achieve all our goals, but also wanting to feel good. It’s really challenging to find balance, especially if you run your own business like I do; or you’re juggling work and kids.
But feeling overwhelmed is a sign to slow down, and take a break. Even if it’s just ten minutes sitting peacefully on the sofa.
4. Breathe and/or meditate
These are essentially the same thing, but I know the word meditation makes some people uncomfortable, so please take whichever word feels better to you.
Most of us spend our whole day breathing shallow breaths, and not filling up our body with vital fresh air. When you’re in a state of stress or overwhelm, breathing deeply can help calm your nervous system, and regain a sense of peace.
There are so many meditation apps available at your fingertips, which offer guided meditations and breathwork techniques to help you with this.
5. Get out of your head and into your body
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, changing your state can work wonders.
What do I mean by that?
I mean radically changing whatever it is you’re doing right now, in this moment, because whatever it is you’re doing is not working for you.
So, if you’re sat at your desk, get up and do some yoga. If you’re feeling down or unmotivated, get dressed and go for a walk or run.
Usually we spend way too much time in our head, over-thinking everything; and not enough time in our body. And you’re the only one in control of this.
I love technology. It has enabled me to quit my job, make a living as a writer, work while simultaneously travelling the world, and start this company, She Rose Revolution.
But am I guilty of spending far too much time than is healthy on my laptop and phone?
Absolutely. And there’s a good chance you are too.
It’s tough, especially if your work requires you to be plugged in all the time. But this is contributing to our feelings of overwhelm. Because we’re not giving ourselves time to switch off, and just be present in the moment with our thoughts.
Try an unplug whenever you can. Switch your phone off when you get home after work. Set a curfew for technology in your home. Or even have a weekend where you don’t turn anything on.
Trust me, it feels really good giving yourself this time out.
7. Start a morning ritual
I begin each morning by sitting to meditate for at least ten minutes, then making myself a cup of lemon green tea. Sometimes I journal, and then think of all that I’m grateful for. I may even do an oracle card reading, and some morning yoga. Then I sit down at my desk to begin writing.
This ritual changes depending on what I need on a particular day, and how my feelings change over time. What you need tomorrow morning may be completely different to what you need next week, or next month. So keep on checking in with yourself.
If you need some inspiration for creating your own morning ritual, click here. And remember, it can be as short as ten minutes, or as long as two hours—work with what you have.
8. Switch your focus
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves each day to tick everything off our to-do list, and feel like we’ve “achieved” something. But there are only so many hours in the day, and only so many hours that you will actually be productive.
If overwhelm is creeping in, then maybe you forget about whatever it is you’re doing right now (if it’s not urgent), and go and do something else.
If you’re on your computer, maybe you could get up and go do that laundry pile that has been staring at you for a week. And if you’ve been on your feet all day, maybe take a seat and write a shopping list.
This is a really helpful tip for when you’re struggling to focus on the task in hand, or it’s particularly challenging. It can be counter-productive to try and struggle through it, so when it feels that way, give yourself permission to stop.
9. Connect with someone you love
Sit down and chat with your partner over a cup of tea, or give your best friend a call.
Sometimes we just need to connect with someone we love; whether it’s to let off some steam, laugh until our belly hurts, or bounce an idea off. This is especially true if you work from home, or you’re a full time mum, because this can be isolating.
And be mindful of who you’re surrounding yourself with. Because other people’s energy effects our own. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s best to connect with someone who has a calm and cantered vibration; instead of your anxious, constantly stressed friend.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then it’s highly likely you’re not having much fun. And a day without any joy is a day wasted.
So think about what brings you joy. What can you do to have fun today, and weave a sense of play and magic into your life?
Maybe you have an arts and crafts session, or you dance to a playlist of your favourite songs. Or you bake a rainbow layered cake, or watch a comedy set.
We’re all different, so think about what brings you the most joy, and begin there.
Find five minutes to play each day, because life is meant to be enjoyed.
Many of us take on far too much responsibility than is manageable each day; whether it’s at work or home, or even in our communities and social life.
But you don’t have to struggle through everything by yourself.
It’s time to learn the art of delegating. This can be challenging if you’re a perfectionist or someone who likes to control everything (like me!), but start small.
Ask a friend or a colleague for help with something. You can always return the favour later down the line. That’s team work.
Journaling is a beautiful way to process your emotions, and release anything that has been building up within you.
I’ve always loved writing about my feelings, and writing is a powerful tool for us as women in particular.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, grab a notebook and pen and five minutes of quiet, and let it all out. Try and not stop until you feel done.
And if you don’t know what to write to begin with because this practice feels strange, that’s okay. Start by writing that you feel silly and you don’t know what to write. See where you go next.
And if you need a little bit of inspiration, check out these journal prompts to get you started.
It sounds so simple, but how many of us are getting enough good sleep each night? And how many of us are over-doing it when we’re awake, depleting our energy, then not replenishing it?
There will always be more to do, and an endless list of things you want to get done. But it’s time we started taking proper care of ourselves; self-care should be at the top of all our to-do lists.
When you know you need rest, and it’s practical to take it (i.e. you’re not in an office full of other people), take it. Have a 15 minute nap, or simply close your eyes for a little while.
You deserve rest. You deserve time to rejuvenate. Plus, you’ll be much more productive when you wake up.
14. Say no (and don’t feel guilty)
It’s okay to take a rain check on plans every once in a while, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and in need of alone time.
Try not to completely disconnect from your loved ones, because relationships do require attention to thrive, but find a healthy balance that supports you instead of draining you.
Practice saying no, to things you don’t want to do, or don’t feel aligned for you. And don’t feel guilty about it. This is your life, so stop trying to please everybody else.
15. Practice gratitude
Overwhelm is often triggered from trying to reach for or pull something towards us. We’re trying to do more, achieve more, and have more.
But when was the last time you stopped and appreciated all you already have?
Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to shift into a positive state, and remember all the wonderful things you’re blessed with.
Wherever you are now, think of three things you’re grateful for. Chances are, you’ll find many more.
16. Remember: You are not alone
There are countless people who struggle with stress and overwhelm. This doesn’t make you weak, or incapable. You’re human.
And remember that you will overcome how you’re feeling today. Let other people’s stories be a reminder of this when you’re struggling to see the light.
You’re far stronger than you probably give yourself credit for, or even know.
Today you feeling overwhelmed. Tomorrow those feelings may still be there. But at some point, they won’t be. They will pass, like clouds overhead. This is just a season.