Overwhelmed? You’re Not the Only One

Deb Bergeron

Do you wake up each morning with your mind racing, worrying about how much you have to accomplish during the day?

Do you feel exhausted, over-burdened, inundated or swamped?

Do you rarely have time for yourself or feel that you’re last on your list?

One of the biggest problems people face today is overwhelm. More and more, people are trying to do too many things and as a result spreading themselves thin. There never seems to be enough time to do everything planned, and it’s never more apparent than during the holiday season.

Typically, we let the “urgent” rule our lives and put off the “important” until tomorrow. But tomorrow is filled with more urgent, and we often never get around to the important things in our lives. Recognizing when the line between being busy and being overwhelmed is close to being crossed is crucial to overcoming that anxious feeling of being under pressure and crunched for time.

Personally, I know a sense of overwhelm is coming when I recognize in myself that I haven’t been taking the time to be present and listen to my inner voice. I find myself ruminating about the same things over and over, being compulsive about things that don’t really matter, while losing focus of priorities and tasks that do.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.”
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, PH.D

Through my work, observations and firsthand experience, I see that people today are becoming tired of the fast-paced, frenzied lifestyle that consumes them and are interested in finding a higher quality of life in which they have more time for themselves and their relationships, and more energy to invest in their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s important to remember that the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, instead of trying to do as much as you can as quickly as you can, slow down and re-connect with the meaning behind your actions.

Ask yourself these three questions:

1) Is it time to simplify? If you feel that simplifying your life would be a good thing, this is the first step in overcoming overwhelm.

2) What is most important to you? What do you love to do? The answer is different to each and every person. For me, it’s simple: I love my family, I love spending time with friends, walking the beach and dancing. And, I love the work I do. For others, it may be hiking, mountain biking, creating music or art, or anything that gives you joy.

3) What can you eliminate to make more space for what is really important? Saying yes when you really want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and totally overwhelmed. Examine your commitments and ask yourself if they’re really important. Do they give you value for your time and give you energy, or do they drain you?

Now that you understand the basic process of simplifying, what will decreasing overwhelm do for you? In a nutshell, more than you can imagine. Decreasing the overwhelm in your life will help you reduce stress, give you more energy, improve your efficiency, and allow you more time to devote to the truly important things in your life.

Nine Steps to Overcome Overwhelm:

  • Practice extreme self-care. Have “me” time and put yourself at the top of the list.
  • Accept your limitations. You can only do so much. If you demand too much of yourself, you will try to do everything by yourself. Delegate responsibilities to others, even if there’s no way on earth that they could ever do them as well as you. 🙂
  • Setting priorities. This is probably one of the most effective tools you can use to reduce overwhelm in your life. Make a list of what’s really important and tackle them with gusto!
  • Breathe: As often as possible, stop for a moment and take several relaxing breaths. This will help restore and calm balance in as little as a minute.
  • Block out time for fun: When you are consumed by work, you often lose contact with what’s meaningful in life, which is why it’s important to block out time for fun. Make rejuvenation just as important as work – your overall well-being depends on it.
  • Learn to say No! By setting healthy, flexible boundaries, you set yourself up for sustainable results and take a significant step towards more inner peace.
  • Move into the present moment: It’s easy to get lost in the past or worry about the future, or even scatter one’s energy in several activities at once. This type of behavior often leaves people feeling overwhelmed and stressed. To instantly feel more peaceful, move back into the present and relish the moment.
  • Develop a daily relaxation practice: Quiet reflection, prayer and journaling can help clear your mind and heart, which will alleviate stress and overwhelm.
  • Set up a support system and ask for help: It’s critical to involve other people to provide you with support, and to help you identify your blind spots. Talk to friends, loved ones or hire a coach.


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