Overcoming overwhelm

When we’re overwhelmed, it feels like we’re struggling to cope or deal with our current situation. This might feel for you like being buried, swamped, overloaded, overpowered, or defeated, to name a few. It might even feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

It’s a common feeling given the instant world that we live in. Emails ping across countries, news travels across nations, food can be delivered in minutes, so it feels like we should be able to do the same with our personal lives – wishing them away or living in fast-forward to try and get everything done.

When overwhelm hits, it’s often a sign that we’re overcommitting our energy, our time, or our personal resources to something and need to step back. It’s not a sign of failure to feel overwhelmed. You don’t judge a physical candle for burning to the bottom, so you shouldn’t judge yourself for feeling that emptiness and stress. What you can do though, is recognise you’ve hit a bit of a bump or a wall, and need to make an adjustment. You can’t run on empty, after all. The following tips are based in positive psychology and holistic health to try and help you in that moment overcome some of that overwhelm and press the pause button, so that you can navigate what you need to do next.


Breathe in for as long as it takes for you to read this sentence.

Breathe out for as long as it takes for you to read this sentence.

Breathing slowly like this in through your nose and out through your mouth can help bring your awareness back to yourself rather than on what was making you feel overwhelmed. It can also break the thoughts running through your mind and offer you some clarity.

Ground yourself in the present moment

Look around you; what can you see, smell, hear, taste, feel? Could you take some long deep breaths to help return to your body? Bringing yourself out of your head and into the moment will help you realise what is in and out of your control right now

Three good things

‘Three good things’ is a positive psychological practice which can help you train your brain to notice life’s positives. Each day for one week, write down three good things that went well for you. For each item, write about either why you think it happened, what it means to you, or how you could have it happen again in the future. Not only does this help you feel positive during a stressful period but it can also help you identify what brings joy and happiness into your life. These are things that we want to prioritise when feeling overwhelmed!


Journaling is a great tool to help us take our thoughts out of our mind and begin to unravel and make sense of them. When they stay in our heads they tend to feel like these huge overwhelming beasts, but when you break it down through journaling, we often realise they’re a bit smaller and more manageable than we thought. Use the prompts below to either write, list out in bullets, or even draw.

  1. What’s on your mind today?

  2. Write a list of relaxing activities that you can do for yourself when feeling overwhelmed or anxious

  3. What are three things you are grateful for this week?

  4. What’s one thing you could do to simplify your life and bring in a sense of calm?

  5. What is one thing that you could prioritise and do for yourself this week?

The purpose of these activities is to help you slow down, take time for yourself, so that you can positively navigate what you’re going through and identify what needs to change. By doing this and prioritising yourself, you’ll have a lot more clarity and energy to be able to put a boundary in place, say no to something, or postpone something to free up some space and time.

If you’d like any support with making this work for you, feel free to book a one off coaching call with myself here. I’d love to chat with you and show you how possible it is to overcome the overwhelm you’re currently facing.

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