5 Simple Things You Can Do to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

Youíve probably got a lot of things on your mental to-do list, and maybe no time at all to take a minute so you can write it all down. When everything starts piling up, itís not all that uncommon to feel like your mind is slowly being crushed by all your responsibilities and expectations.

Overwhelm isnít just unpleasant ó it can cause your body to suffer from other negative responses too, including stress, anxiety, and even depression. The key is to identify it when you feel it, and take action right away so it doesnít worsen.

So, what should you do? Drop everything and hide under your bed sheets until it all goes away?

There are easier ways to deal with overwhelm than by getting emotional or giving up all together. Try some of the following simple tips to help clear your head, reposition your focus and get you back on track toward getting whatever it is you need to get done.

1. Go for a walk outside.

Too many people try to power through their day trying to get everything done as fast as possible, and their idea of ďrelaxingĒ is planting their butts on the couch in front of the TV, computer, or their smartphone. All that stimulation can actually make you feel worse.

Try going for a walk instead. Thereís significant evidence that walking actually boosts brainpower and may even work better than antidepressants.

If you can get out into a park or wooded area, thatís even better. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that people who live within close proximity to green space actually suffer less from mental illness.

2. Get clear about your most important priorities, and then write them down.

Most people start to feel overwhelmed when they realize they donít have the time or resources to get everything done. If youíre feeling like this, you should take it as a sign that you need to slow down and start shaving down your list of things to get done.

Pull out a piece of paper and list the things that absolutely must get done today. Writing your tasks down helps you get clear and realistic about what you need to do.

Remember to be as honest as you can with your list. Everything else can wait.

3. Focus on completing one task at a time.

When overwhelm starts to set in, lots of people feel naturally driven to start multitasking. According to researchers at Stanford University, multitasking is actually counterproductive.

Trying to do two or more things at once, then switching to something else, then switching back to the thing you were originally trying to complete only confuses your brain and makes you slower. You may actually be contributing to your overwhelm rather than fixing it.

The right way to stop overwhelm in its tracks is to follow your list, focus on one task at a time, and never move on until itís completed.

4. Delegate anything that doesnít have to be done by you.

Nobody said you have to do everything yourself. Thatís a sure-fire way to feed the feeling of overwhelm.

To lift the burden off your shoulders a little, work off your list to see what you can ask other people to take care of, or totally outsource to someone who specializes in it. Asking your husband to pick the kids up from soccer this week or making the decision to hire a housekeeper can really make all the difference.

5. Take short but frequent breaks.

Finally, if youíre not taking breaks often, then this a bad habit you need to change ASAP. Some people just keep going and going and going as if theyíve got superhuman powers, never taking any amount of time to break out of fear that everything will fall apart or precious time will be lost.

A University of Illinois study found that frequent breaks actually help to improve focus and creativity. They donít need to be long, but itís not healthy nor is it productive to go for hours and hours without letting your mind and body rest for a bit.

Try taking a break for 2 to 5 minutes every 25 to 45 minutes or so. Just by simply standing up, moving around, and taking your mind off of what youíre doing for a couple minutes is enough to recharge yourself, get back at it, and never feel defeated by all the tasks you set out to do.

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Photo Credit: Peter Alfred Hess


Sierra B.
Sierra B3 years ago

I'm always forever feeling overwhelmed becuase I tend to over achieve

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Eric Lees
Eric Lees3 years ago

Good tips, Thanks.

I'm trying to get out for a walk a couple times each week on my lunch break to reduce stress at work.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago


Richard T.
Richard T3 years ago

Thank You!

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Yola S.
.3 years ago

Thank you.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago


Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you for reminding Elise :)

Muff-Anne York-Haley

I like just observing my thoughts as they come!