A Holistic Approach to Navigating Overwhelm

A Holistic Approach to Navigating Overwhelm 

We all have times in our lives when everything hits us at once.  Perhaps when the bomb of overwhelm is dropped we are already not at our best, maybe our battery is out of charge, or perhaps we just don’t deal with overwhelm that well.  Whatever it is, you are human.  We all have an overwhelm limit and when that limit is reached or has flooded over, it can turn our life into turmoil and we can become emotionally, mentally and spiritually imbalanced.  It is hard to focus on any job in hand.  It can be a natural default to lose your magic, your mojo and your motivation. 

Well, you are not alone.  There is no shame, but it is important to recognise there are ways it can be managed optimally to help you get through your current challenges and come out the other side intact. 


So, here are a few tips that might just help you, or provide you with some ideas on how to manage overwhelm in the future. 



Yes I did seriously say breathe!  When you are boiling over with stress, take a moment.  Maybe sit down for a second privately.  I know your inner voice is shouting “but I just don’t have time for this”.  Ignore it for a moment and just do this anyway.  You will feel better.   

Simply take a long, deep and slow inhale through the nose, pause for a moment and then breathe out slowly through the mouth, as if you are blowing out a candle.  Repeat, repeat, repeat until you feel at peace.  This will:- 

  • Slow your heart rate and over time return your blood pressure to “your normal” which may have altered with all those nasty stress hormones buzzing around.   
  • By breathing this way, you will swap the messages your body is receiving.  Your new breath work will start to send out the calmer and friendlier hormones into the body, with the important message of reducing stress.  You will soon start to feel some delicious calm filter in. 
  • Oxygenate you by breathing deeply and properly.  Kicking shallow breathing’s butt. This will help your thinking process and your brain function – something you seriously need at this time! 
  • You are giving yourself a moment to pause.  There is power in a pause.  |t will provide you with a space to reflect and decide what you need to do next.   Pause is also clarity.  From here you will be making better decisions. 


Get Talking 

When you are up to your eyes in endless responsibilities, the last thing you might think could be helpful is talking to someone.  But talking to a really grounded and resourceful friend or family member that knows you and ideally is a great listener, could be just the thing that you need.  When you talk, you hear your problems and by listening intently to yourself you often find your own solutions.  Sometimes someone else can give you a different perspective and come up with a great idea.  A problem shared, can be a problem halved with the right confidant. The impossible, suddenly becomes possible with a different outlook or approach. 

If you do not have someone in your friendship group or family you feel can assist your plight, consider having a session or two with a recommended counsellor, therapist or coach.  It is often easier for them to see the solutions from “the outside”, as they are not emotionally involved. 


Get A “To Do” Book 

When we feel fragmented with all we are juggling, our thoughts can get more and more scattered.  Things might have escalated to a stage where we are not remembering everything and a few plates that were spinning have been dropped.  So your “to do” book is your magic helper. 

  • Start by creating a margin and then listing down outside of your margin everything that needs to be done. Get it out of your head and onto paper. 
  • In the margin, “star” the priorities for the day and then number them in the order you want to get them done.  Start with the “thing” you have been putting off the most.  This will increase your productivity enormously.   
  • Cross out the items as you complete. 
  • At the end of the day, remind yourself when you see jobs crossed out that you have triumphed with every single task completed.  Focus on the triumphs, not on the incomplete tasks.  Oh and pat yourself on the back.  Great job! 
  • Every few days review your list.  Rewrite it again when many tasks are crossed out, otherwise the list looks really extensive when it is actually reducing.  A big list in itself can be scary!  This will keep your mindset positive and your moral high.  You will also feel more in control and organised. 
  • Remember you are not a robot.  Ask yourself what can wait and be honest with yourself on the answer. Are you setting your goals too high or being a perfectionist?  Be kind to you. 


Ask For Help 

It is common when we are feeling overwhelmed to try and do everything ourselves.  We do not want to bother anyone else with our issues or be a pain.  Have you thought that perhaps someone else in your life might actually like to help you?  They might actually gain a feeling of empowerment simply by stepping up and creating a solution for you.  By doing everything ourselves, we can potentially disempower others.  Perhaps this is food for thought for you just now? 

  • Consider any jobs, no matter how small that could be re-allocated and reallocate. 
  • Is there anything you can afford to “farm out” or get done by a professional ie. cleaning, gardening, odd job man, a VA for your business (you can limit hours), book-keeper etc.  If you are in paid employment, could you seek help to adjust your workload? 
  • Can you look at your tasks at home and assess if they are reasonably allocated.  Could you consider holding a family meeting and creating a redistribution of tasks to be reviewed monthly or whatever works for your family? 


Activate Your Overwhelm Filing Shelf 

We have become a society that expects so much of us.  But you know, we really do not have to carry that pressure.  We actually do not have to do everything highly efficiently or at break-neck speed.  Consider each task created as a baby step towards less overwhelm.  Change your mindset and belief system to be one of: “I am doing my best”.   

So, you can of course continue to motor on until you break, crack or make yourself sick.  Or, you could consider creating an imaginary overwhelm shelf for yourself.  When you spot the signs that you could potentially start to lose your battery charge, or you have competed some major tasks that day, decide when enough is enough. When you have, press stop on the tasks.  File them in your imaginary file.  Place them on the imaginary shelf and get them down the next day, or whenever you have allocated another mission of task reduction.   

You have the right to rest and recharge.  If it is good enough for your phone, it is good enough for you! 

Create a Wellbeing Relief Tool 

So in this energy of lots to do, masses of responsibilities, most people tend to drop the things that make them feel great.  This is the very time you need to incorporate wellbeing tools for you.  This “me time”, no matter how brief, is essential to your health in every way.  If you feel good, you work effectively and you are happier.  It really is that simple, yet we often ignore this and carry on, “rabbit in the headlights”.  So how about considering creating a line in the sand today?  What could you incorporate into your day or your life that would give you a lift, make you feel good and provide you with a bit of mental and emotional processing time? 

Some ideas here could help you:- 

  • A daily walk ideally in nature, but anywhere is better than nothing.  If you are employed, could you take your trainers to work and go out for 15 minutes every day in your break?  A colleague might equally like to join you?  You could then keep each other motivated and create a new habit. 
  • Incorporate the gym, some gym classes/yoga, swimming or something similar.  There is always a way. Getting up early to swim, in your lunch break or after work.  Weekends only if the week is not possible at this time.  Consider exercising at home online.  Create a new regime I dare you!  You will also be hitting your “feel good hormones” and getting fitter physically too.  Whoop! 
  • Bring in meditation, mindfulness or something similar to enhance your life.  There are free apps out there too.  Perhaps a guided meditation every night to help you sleep and empower you to let go of all the mental “monkey talk” that goes on.  We all need a “brain dump” and to feel lighter.  Find a way to let it all go. 
  • Have a treatment such as a massage, facial, Reiki session etc.  If you cannot find the funds at this time, is there a therapist who is happy to do a skills swap with you?  There is always a way.  I have received photography in return for a course of treatment from one of my clients.  Be open to opportunity.  Be creative in your thinking.   
  • Is there something you love doing that makes you feel really relaxed that could be incorporated into your everyday life?   It might be something as simple as a night-time bath with lavender oil.  Whatever it is, bring it on.  You matter! 
  • Build into your diary days off, so that you have recharge times.  Make it your non-negotiable. 

So signing off in the energy of shifting old patterns and bringing in the new.  We are meant to reflect, grow and evolve.  You now have a perfect opportunity to do exactly that. 


By Colleen Young

By Colleen Young


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