Fighting the Overwhelm and 10 Tips for Feeling More In Control

It’s happening again. That rising feeling of panic that keeps on trying to fight it’s way up, that feeling that everywhere I look there are things to do, lists upon lists of urgent issues and tasks that I really should have done, the worry about my relationships, my family, my work, my feelings of frustration and failure. Oh yes, it appears it is time for that wonderful OVERWHELM to rise it’s ugly head again. 

Waves crashing on a stony beach
Feeling overwhelmed at times is normal, but how can you feel more in control again?

Let’s look at it logically. As a mother in a modern world a feeling of overwhelm every so often is entirely natural (it’s probably normal for all people, but I’ll write about what I know). As a woman with children there is a huge amount of pressure on me to fulfil my role as a mother, there is also pressure on me to fulfil my obligations as a “housewife” (to do at least a share of cooking and cleaning), then I need to try and be a good girlfriend and I also have a responsibility to myself to look after my body and my mind. That’s a lot of plates to juggle.


If I didn’t sleep there could be a possibility to achieve them all, but realistically there is only so much I can do in a day. I prioritise based on need and interest and some plates get dropped. So I pick them up and sweep the floor and sometimes it’s fine, but every so often the whole stack of plates gets knocked on the floor and I stand there looking at all the little pieces of responsibility, obligations and needs scattered all around me. I don’t even know where to start and I can’t run away because I have no shoes on and my feet will get cut. Not only would that hurt, but the blood trail would just be one more thing to clean up later. Ok, maybe I am getting a bit too into this imagery, but the point is simple: there is a lot to do as a modern mother and it’s impossible to keep on top of it all so every so often we can expect to feel overwhelmed.

And I haven’t even got to that elephant in the room, or more accurately that crouching tiger that we know is there and could pounce at any time making our every day existence harder and plan making redundant. There is this huge unknown we are having to face. At any time I could receive a call from the school to say my children can’t go back for 2 weeks, a trip to the supermarket to get essentials could be a 5 minute trip or involve an hours queue only to discover that they are out of my non-dairy milk anyway. And Christmas! I’m not sure if I should mention that, but our planned family Christmas feels unlikely to happen. That’s a pretty scary and frustrating tiger to have hanging around on top of everything else.

And yet I’ve been here before and I know I can make it through. I have tried and tested solutions which make me feel more in control. I just need to remember to use them.


10 Ways To Fight That Feeling Of Being Overwhelmed


Breathe. 

Take a couple of slow deep breaths. I’m talking about big yoga breathing where you inhale through your nose, hold for a minute before exhaling slowly through your mouth.

Make a plan. 

Feeling overwhelmed is often caused by feeling everything is out of control so making a plan for what you can control should immediately help. Mine normally take the form of a list of the most important things that need doing. Writing them down stops me worrying I will forget about them and you get to have that feeling of satisfaction as you tick them off.

Ask for help. 

Look down that plan. What can you ask someone else to do? What support do you need to be able to complete tasks? You don’t have to do everything alone.

Have a quick tidy up. 

When I am behind on EVERYTHING, that means my house is a mess too. I hate walking from room to room and seeing the state it’s in and it makes me feel even more out of control. So I pick a room that can be sorted out fairly quickly, give it a bit of a tidy and a vacuum. Every time I walk into that room and see it’s tidy I feel a bit calmer. Even having vacuumed stairs works for me.

Complete the quick wins. 

This is a technique borrowed from my project management experience. Normally on my to do list there are a few tasks that don’t take long to do, urgent admin tasks like booking appointments. Spending a few minutes to get those done makes me feel like I am achieving progress.

Tackle the big ugly bear.

Is there one particularly task that is really stressing you out? Are you putting it off because just the thought of it makes you panicked? Well that’s the next thing you need to focus on. If you get it done it will make everything else much easier to manage. If it is too big or can’t be completed yet then break it down into smaller tasks and have a plan. The plan alone will help, but if you can complete some of the tasks too it again will make you feel more in control.

Exercise. 

The best exercise for me when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to go for a run. I find when I’m really pushing myself and playing loud music I can’t really think about anything else, but if that doesn’t work for you find out what does, it might be just going for a walk in the fresh air helps. 

Get lost in music.

If you can’t get out putting on some music you love and dancing round the room can work well too. Not a dancer? Maybe you prefer to sit with your eyes closed and pretend to play the piano or air guitar. Choose your music and do it your way, but I find playing it loud or wearing headphones to block out everything else works best.

Look in control. 

Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Are you washed? Neat hair? Clean clothes? Wearing make up? If not maybe give it a go. The way you look affects how you feel about yourself and how others treat you. 

Take time to heal. 

Start with a 5 minutes break for a cup of tea, but as you start to fight the feeling of overwhelm make sure you take time for a proper break and treat yourself. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed puts your body under a lot of pressure as well as your mind so you need to give yourself a chance to repair the damage.

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I hope this helps and I would love to hear from you if you have any other tips to share.

10 Ways to... how to fight the feeling of overwhelm


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