When life feels overwhelming it’s so hard to even just make it through each day, let alone enjoy it.
I reckon that with so many of us feeling constantly overwhelmed these days, it’s almost become a normal state of being.
For those of us who are struggling with depression, this sense of everything being too much is particularly troubling. Just the mere thought of taking a shower and preparing breakfast, perhaps looking after your children can be so utterly overwhelming when you’re feeling low.
So as it happens to be National Stress Awareness Day here in the UK today, let’s talk about overwhelm. In particular, let’s talk about how to try and overcome it so you no longer feel like you’re drowning and not being on top of things.
5 things to try when life feels overwhelming
Consider who and what is giving you all your tasks
Spend a few moments reflecting on the importance of your tasks.
Which ones do you really need to do in order to survive? What are the things that absolutely have to get done each day and each week? Because sure enough, there’s often no way around doing certain things. Your employer needs you to do certain tasks, and your kids need to be fed and cared for. Whatever your situation, you will know that particular to-do items on your list are non-negotiable.
But what about those tasks that you have set yourself? The ones that aren’t strictly necessary but are instead nice bonuses?
See whether you put yourself under unnecessary pressure because of certain expectations you have of yourself. Ask yourself whether not doing a certain thing will matter at the end of your life.
Reflecting on what is truly important to me always helps when say my house is never as clean and tidy as I’d like it to be. And that’s pretty much every day…
So tip one, consider the importance of your tasks and learn to let go a little.
Start and end your days with intention
No doubt we’ve now all heard of morning and evening routines. The difference they can make to your entire day is incredible.
Starting your day with intention sets you up for what is to come. It makes you feel good about yourself and increases your resilience towards stress as well.
Likewise, ending your day purposefully wraps the day’s events all up, and you’re preparing yourself for a restful sleep and the new day ahead.
But changing your habits can be so hard…! Morning and evening routines is still a big area of development for myself. And if you’re currently feeling low, then this might be particularly hard to do. The mornings can fill you with dread and it’s so hard to get out of bed. In the evenings, you feel like numbing yourself with mindless TV or scrolling through your social media feeds. Who doesn’t know this? Depressed or not depressed.
But if feeling less overwhelmed is a priority for you right now, then starting and/or ending your day with intention can make a real difference here.
The nice thing is that you get to choose how you’d like to do it. Yes, you can do breathing exercises and stretch your body, or make that cup of hot water with lemon. You can end your day with journaling and meditation. Or you can do whatever feels best for you.
Turn that phone off
Having lost my phone charger whilst on holiday last week, I have noticed just how much my phone drains my mental energy. I felt so much better when I knew I wasn’t able to check my emails, messages and Instagram feed anyway. I just left the phone behind – it was heaven.
Would I want to live without a phone? No. It’s so useful and I do truly love being able to connect with others through it.
But constantly checking your phone for any updates is keeping you in busy mode. All the time. And when life feels overwhelming, it’s the last thing you need.
We never evolved to have this much constant input. Particularly with social media, it feels like there’s this whole other reality that we need to pay attention to. We’ve got everything that’s going on in our “real” lives and then we also feel sucked into checking constant updates in our “virtual” lives as well. It never used to be this way.
So if you want to feel less overwhelmed, turn your phone off when you can. As others say as well, evenings are probably best for that.
Slow down, and then some more
Tying in with turning your phone off, if you want to feel less overwhelmed, I really believe it’s good to slow down. No one us can stay constantly revved up. We all need that balance of fast and busy versus slow and restorative.
And again, slowing down can look different for each of us.
It can include things like taking a moment to reflect on what is working well in your life and practicing gratitude. It can include a day or an evening of intentionally doing things for leisure that require concentration and time. For example, knitting, drawing, playing an instrument, yoga, taking a long bath, reading a novel or painting your nails. Whatever works for you and slows down the pace at which we often need to live.
Write a list
Lastly, there’s always writing a list if you want to feel less overwhelmed.
So write a list of all the essential things you need to do so that you’ve got it down in black and white. That way you won’t have to worry about remembering everything anymore.
Consider which one task will make the biggest difference to your day or your progress. And if it works for you, block some time in your day or your week to focus on nothing else but that one task.
The nice thing about ticking things of your list is that if you see yourself making progress, you’ll gain more self-efficacy. What’s that? It’s the belief in yourself that you can accomplish tasks. A good one for when life feels overwhelming.
I hope these tips have been useful. If you have any others that are working really well for you, please do feel free to get in touch and share them.
And if you’re currently struggling with your mental health and would like to work together to improve your mood naturally, then take a look at my one-to-one programme here.