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14 ways to deal with overwhelm

Overwhelm is that horrible feeling when you are so stressed you are numb. You’re forgetful, you can’t concentrate, you don’t feel connected to anyone or yourself. You snap. You cry. But you feel like you can’t do anything about it either. Sometimes you know why you’re overwhelmed, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it is just everything all built up together that is overwhelming you.

Trust me, I’ve been there. More than once – it’s what inspired me to set up my own business three years ago and I’ve been on a journey of self-belief boosting ever since.

What is stressful to one person may completely un-phase another. Take an argument for example, one person may ruminate over every detail worrying about it, and someone else may just shrug it off and believe it will work itself out. There’s no right way of dealing with it but there are lots of ways you can manage stress, boost your self-belief and develop coping strategies. I’ll be covering these each week in my blogs.

If you’re stressed out and overwhelmed right now you’ve come to the right place. You can get back in control of how you feel and you can manage your stress so it doesn’t happen again. Here’s a checklist you can follow immediately to help you, and keep an eye on my future blogs for ideas to keep your emotional health in tip top condition.

  1. Stop – Do whatever you need to do to create some space. Get a babysitter, take a sick day, clear your diary, send the kids on a play date… Stop what you are doing. You are going in circles and this will create a pause and allow space to reset.
  2. Check in – become aware of how you feel, of what your body is telling you and then give it what it needs. Need sleep? Sleep. Need to cry? Cry. Need to run? Run. Need cake? Eat cake.
  3. Know its ok – Stress is ok, we need stress to survive. You are already reading this and therefore already acknowledging you’d like to change something. You’ve already jumped the first hurdle. Know it is ok to feel stress and know it is ok because you are now helping yourself deal with it.
  4. Be kind to yourself – Do whatever you need to do to boost your self-love. This can be anything from yoga to a hot bath, a spa day to a pyjama night in. Be around people who give you what you need, not those who put more pressure on you.
  5. Breathe – Download a mindfulness meditation, focus on your breath or do an activity that requires you to regulate your breath – yoga is great for this, as is running or even something like painting. Breathing brings more oxygen to our brain and allows our blood pressure and heart rate to regulate.
  6. Take time out – Forcing ourselves to work through just makes things worse. The best thing you can actually do is to take some time off to rest and recuperate. Even an hour will allow you a bit of headspace. Factoring this in to your weekly routine is even better.
  7. Try to understand the underlying cause – Are you overworked? Do you have unrealistic deadlines? Is your mind-set or self-confidence getting in the way? Are you having relationship troubles? Is your desk cluttered? Is it all of the above?! Working out some of the causes gives us a good starting point to try and tackle them.
  8. Take action – After you’ve rested and listened to your body, do one thing every day to make your life easier. Could it be clearing your desk, could it be deleting 10 emails, unsubscribing from junk mail, asking for help with chores, batch making dinner? Do something to be more productive.
  9. Social interaction – Ensure you have people around you who make you feel good. Call an old friend who makes your laugh, go for coffee with your sister, chat to your online buddies. Make sure you are interacting with people and having a good time. We are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
  10. Brain dump – Get everything out. Grab a pen and some paper and just empty your brain. List everything on your mind, everything you need to do and get it out of your head. This prevents you from needing to remember it but means it’s still there if you do need it.
  11. Prioritise – Work out what ONE thing do you need to do each day. Do that one thing each day and then anything else is a bonus. You’ll feel like you are achieving things but not panicking with details.
  12. Ditch, Delegate, Do. – Something a business coach taught me. Look at your brain dump list. Categorise them into these three categories and then LET GO!
  13. Go outside – this will always be on my list. As an Ecotherapist I can tell you that there are so many reasons you should go outside if you feel overwhelmed. You’ll give yourself head space, blow out the cobwebs, get your circulation moving and bring your attention to the present moment. You can read more on why nature is good for us in my Huffington Post blog here.
  14. Be kind to yourself (again) – this is the most important one. Do something, anything, to boost your self-love – you may want to start with my free Valentine’s Day masterclass.

The trick with all of this is preventing it happening again. We need stress, some stress is healthy but too much stress can lead to burn out (and lots of other health problems). We can learn to improve our wellbeing in lots of ways but the most important is to start looking after ourselves. Burn out is so often caused by putting everyone and everything else first and neglecting yourself. You can’t help everyone else if you are burnt out so make a commitment right now to start looking after yourself.

Get in touch if you’re committed to making a difference to your emotional health, one to one coaching could help get you on that path to living a life you love.

2 Responsesso far.

  1. Sarah Shay says:

    Thanks so much for this Hayley. Great coping strategies and I just love your analogy I have heard you use in the past which is “put your own oxygen mask on first”. Self care can actually be scheduled into our lives – you have taught me that! I feel so much more aware now of what is causing me stress and what I really need to do to sort out overwhelm. Thanks for the great tips. xx

    • Hayley Gillard says:

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Sarah. Yep – it’s so true, we can’t possibly be the best mum, partner, friend, colleague, business owner if we are burnt out and exhausted. PUT YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST!! Thank you so much for your support. xxx

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