All too often when I meet with clients and ask how they’re doing, one of the first things they say is, “I feel overwhelmed.” If you get overwhelmed frequently, you are not alone. Being overwhelmed is exhausting, and when we get overwhelmed it’s so easy to stay overwhelmed since thoughts and feelings tend to snowball out of proportion. Let’s talk about what can be done when we’re feeling overwhelmed. It may feel intimidating, like untangling a huge ball of string lights, so take your time and start as slowly as you need. 

What’s making you feel overwhelmed? 

Sometimes it helps to externalize the thoughts that are causing the overwhelm. How would you like to externalize them? Writing them down in whatever format works for you can be beneficial. You can also find someone you trust and is willing to help you to share your overwhelm with. Seeing or hearing the sources of the overwhelm outside of your own head can be helpful. 

Once you can see/hear all of the things that are causing you overwhelm, how will you prioritize the tasks at hand? Are some more time sensitive than others? Are some more complicated and will take more time? 

Is all or nothing thinking creeping in? Is there some option in the middle that could work? 

How permanent are the things that are causing you overwhelm?  Are they temporary or long term?

What resources and tools are at your disposal to tackle these things that are overwhelming you? 

Are the things that are causing you overwhelm hypothetical or real? What is true or rational and what are assumptions or irrational? 

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being totally overwhelmed, 1 being at peace, where are you? What could you do to bring yourself down a number or even a fraction of a number? 

How do you know when you are feeling overwhelmed? What can be done once you become aware that you are overwhelmed? 

Is there a more helpful change of perspective on any of the things causing you overwhelm that can help you alleviate the negative feelings about it? 

Feeling overwhelmed is totally normal and happens to all of us. You are not alone in your experiences. We may not be able to totally avoid situations that cause overwhelm since life is messy and chaotic, but we can control how we react and feel about the situations, and work through the feelings of overwhelm. 

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