Even on a good day, you may feel overwhelmed by life. Phone notifications, work obligations, family needs, to-do lists, email overload, expectations, illness, invitations and the list goes on for the things that occupy our time. On top of that there are all of the day-to-day decisions and stressors. What’s for dinner, what to wear, which bills to pay and other questions and decisions can weigh us down.
When you feel overwhelmed by life and all it seems to throw at you, it’s time to think about what’s within your control. What are the tiny steps and small shifts. Otherwise the attempt to feel better feels overwhelming too.
If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed it’s hard to make decisions or have clarity on next steps. This is the time (even if it seems impossible) to ask for help. You deserve relief from the heaviness so you can recover. When you begin to feel better, make it a priority to protect your time, energy, space and health.
Before we jump into the reminder that can help you move from feeling overwhelmed with life to being at peace in your own life, consider this. When your feelings are all over the place and you aren’t sure if it’s sadness, anger, confusion or something else, look around you. What’s going on? If it’s too much, you may be overwhelmed. Removing the weight of overwhelm may resolve some of the other feelings too. I’m not a therapist or professional in this arena, but that has been my experience.
12 Things to Remember When You are Feeling Overwhelmed With Life
So what do we do? How can move through life with less stress and overwhelm? How can we enjoy our lives in the midst of the chaos? Let’s figure this out because we can’t bring our best to ourselves or each other if we are always overwhelmed with life. I discovered after years of experimenting and eliminating things like clutter, debt, alcohol and busyness that it is possible to create a more peaceful environment.
It does take time to change your environment though. It’s worth doing no matter how long it takes, but for some immediate relief when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and consider these reminders.
1. Don’t let worry keep you up at night.
Note to self and anyone who is is worried: How something ends up never depends on how much you worry about it.
When you can’t stop worrying, escape the worry trap and …
- Write it all down. Promise to worry about it later.
- Listen to podcasts, an audiobook or music (change the station).
- Be present. Notice the things around you.
- Go outside. Walk it off.
- Turn your phone off.
- Help someone else.
- Live with less. Hold on to what matters. Let go of the rest.
These coping strategies can stop you from spiraling when you worry. This is really important during stressful situations.
2. You don’t have to do it alone.
We don’t have to do it all, carry it all, prove ourselves by how strong we are or say yes when we want to say no. Put it down, ask for help, and resist the urge to keep taking on more. Doing more things won’t make you a better person. It will make you a tired person. Do less, take care of you.
If the guilt, exhaustion or general emotions you carry drains you, it’s time to put them down. Turn to self-care, prioritize your mental health and ask for help. It’s not easy to ask for help but dealing with anxiety, depression and fatigue is harder.
3. Focus on the stuff within your control.
Take a deep breath. If you are having feelings of overwhelm, negative thoughts or a change in mood, instead of focusing on the things that are out of your control, simplify the things that are within it. Ease tension and overwhelming thoughts by creating a little space. Declutter a drawer or a whole room if you have the energy.
4. It’s probably time to put yourself first.
When you feel overwhelmed with life, how do you prioritize yourself? Maybe it doesn’t have to be that hard. In fact, if it is hard, make it soft. Usually that means making it smaller. For instance, instead of emailing your entire family and telling them you won’t be available for them anymore, try drinking a glass of water or curling up with a good book.
Or, instead of quitting your job and telling your horrible boss off, declutter your junk drawer or read a good novel. Those other things may happen in time but right now, the first step in prioritizing you is a gentle step. What is a small, soft, gentle way you can give to yourself today?
5. Set boundaries to reduce overwhelm.
If you need to set boundaries for your own mental and or physical wellbeing, do it. Don’t worry about who might get upset. That part isn’t up to you. Holding your boundaries will lower your stress levels, improve relationship issues and help you protect your peace.
6. Make small changes every day.
Move away from stress and overwhelm towards peace and ease by making small changes every day. If small changes feel too big, make them tiny.
7. Focus on what’s within you.
When I feel hurried, anxious or chaotic, I ask myself, “Is this within me or around me?” It’s usually around me and I can remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to absorb the rush or the chaos. Things can be calm within me even when it’s chaotic around me.
8. You don’t have to push through feeling overwhelmed.
We are hard enough on ourselves and somehow become even tougher when going through something challenging like a job change, grief, a breakup or breakdown or not feeling well. Somewhere we started believing that pushing through was our only choice. It’s not.
We don’t have to effort through everything. We can ease through and rest through. We might not get through faster but we will get through healthier and happier.
Next time (or right now), be gentle instead. Trade pushing, forcing and controlling for resting, relaxing and resetting.
9. Take care of you.
So often we apologize or make excuses for the way we take care of ourselves. From saying no to going to bed early, not drinking or eating certain things, taking solo trips … let’s stop apologizing for giving ourselves what we need to feel well, be present, get creative and love our people. Bye guilt.
10. Protect your time.
Just because you have time or availability for something doesn’t mean you have to say yes. You are the only one who can protect your time. Don’t create space so you can do more things (especially things you don’t want to do).
Create space for more life, for more being you.
11. Be picky about what gets your time and attention.
Sometimes it seems like the only option is to take in everything which usually leads to your daily to-do list becoming longer than your day, headaches, burnout and lack of sleep. It all feels important and urgent but it really can’t all matter at the same time. Simplify anything and everything. Be picky about what gets your energy and attention. When everything is important, nothing is.
12. Be gentle when you are feeling overwhelmed.
We get so overwhelmed because things are overwhelming AND because we push back, go harder, get through and toughen up to prove our strength and resilience. Despite how we feel, we keep trying to catch up, climb the ladders, stay in control, jump through the hoops, take care of all the things and do it all.
Whew. Too too much. Let’s slow down and be gentle instead. Let’s give our insides a break. That stuff on the outside is always going to be out of hand, overwhelming and hard to handle. The stuff on the inside though, that’s our home. We can take it back by being gentle with ourselves.
Pay attention to how you are feeling.
Feeling overwhelmed is a sign. It’s a signal to shift something; from your mindset to your schedule. You have the power to cancel something or to say no thank you. You are brave enough to make a small change that will ease your overwhelm. You have the option of deciding what matters to you and making room for whatever that is.
I know it’s not easy (but being overwhelmed with life isn’t easy either). Notice when you are feeling overwhelmed and choose to pause and remind yourself that you can turn things around — inch by inch, step by step, and thought by thought.
Tell me …
Which “reminder” above resonates with you the most right now and why? You can find more reminders and inspiration to simplify and feel better here on Instagram.