How to Deal with Overwhelm

Do you ever feel like you have a million thoughts rushing round your head at once? There’s so much to do and everything just seems like it’s too much. Moments like these are sign of overwhelm. You feel like life is getting on top of you. You don’t where to start or how to break free of the stress that all those thoughts cause. Overwhelm is very common, and is something that I have had to learn to overcome, and sometimes it still creeps up on me. When I do start to enter that overwhelmed bubble though, there are some things which I always do deal with overwhelm and get on top of it.

Free-flow journaling

Never underestimate the power of journaling. It is an incredibly powerful tool and one not to knock until you have tried it. There are different kinds of journaling, from structured to free-flow writing. In journal therapy, you can use questions and prompts to explore your thoughts and develop further understanding as to why you might be feeling a certain way. Free-flow writing does not have any form of structure or guidance as such. However it is a way to just get out whatever is in your mind onto paper. You can write whatever you want to, however you want to.

Free-flow journaling, or diary writing, is one of the first things I do when I need to deal with overwhelm. It’s like having a brain dump. Anything and everything that is taking up space in your mind goes onto the paper. Just knowing that you have put all of those thoughts elsewhere is incredibly freeing and creates more mental space.

Taking a step back

It may seem strange, but taking a step back from the to-do list and all the things you think you have to do, can actually bring better perspective and help your manage your thoughts more effectively. We spend so much time living ‘in’ our lives, when it’s also important to remove yourself from your everyday hustle for a moment. Take a quiet moment, just to breathe, to find a sense of calm. Giving yourself some time to switch off in your daily routine allows your mind a chance to rest and manage overwhelm in a healthier way.

Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.

Doe zantamata

Prioritise tasks

A lot of time overwhelm arrives at your doorstep because of a feeling that you need to get multiple things done by a certain deadline, We live in a world full of productivity, motivation, and to-do lists. This ‘work, work, work’ culture and sense of obligation to be really busy all the time has only increased in recent years.

Of course, when you have a job, you can’t just shun everything. But what you can do is be more mindful over your to-do list. Is there something on there that is unnecessary or could be done more efficiently to save you time and energy?

Living with a chronic illness, I have days when my energy levels are limited and I need to be sensible about how I allocate my time. I like to have 3 tasks a day that I know are genuinely achievable on that day and that I can tick off by the end of the day. Setting yourself unrealistic goals will only add to your stress and overwhelm. Prioritise and don’t do anything that isn’t serving you.

Fresh air

There’s something about fresh air and nature that is so calming. Eco-therapy is now an established form of therapeutic treatment. Getting outside where possible and becoming more at one with nature has been proven to reduce stress levels and improve mental wellbeing in general.

Have you ever experienced overwhelm? If so, how have you learnt to deal with your overwhelm or is it something you still need support with?