How to not feel overwhelmed

How to Take Care of Yourself When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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By Mental Health First Aid USA on March 17, 2021

Let’s get real: there are times in life when you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Whether it be with work, school, social obligations or just life in general, we all feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed at some point. It’s important to give yourself grace when you have these feelings. Try not to brush them off or push through whatever is causing you to feel anxious – your mental health matters and if you’re feeling the squeeze, understand that you can take a step back.

We understand that recent events along with the COVID-19 pandemic have made things complicated, and it can be difficult to juggle all of your responsibilities at the same time. When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, remember that you can always revisit your self-care plan. Self-care plans are personal, which can be just the thing for when things feel like too much. Try some of these tips when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Take a deep breath and step away. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, a quick way to begin to alleviate those feelings is by doing breathing exercises. If the thing that’s overwhelming you is in front of you, try taking a step away from it to create some separation between you and whatever is making you feel this way. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to promote relaxation and lower your stress response. Need some breathing exercise guidance? We’ve got you covered.
  2. Create a “no” list. Protecting your time and space can help give you a sense of control over your schedule. If you don’t want to do something or have been dreading that virtual happy hour, don’t feel like you have to go. Replace the activities you don’t want to do with something that you’ll enjoy. Healthy boundaries are crucial for your wellbeing!
  3. Be kind to yourself. Remember that feeling overwhelmed is OK, especially now. It also helps to remember that feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to last. Give yourself some grace – if you don’t get to that chore or have to ask for an extension at work, you can. Your mental health should be a top priority.
  4. Ask for help from a loved one. Your social support network is there for you to lean on if you need to vent or talk things through. Reach out to a friend for a virtual chat or pick up the phone and call a family member.
  5. Write it out. Writing down why you feel overwhelmed or anxious is another great way to help alleviate those feelings. It helps to do this unstructured – having a written stream of consciousness allows you to express yourself freely and getting those thoughts out of your head will be a relief.

If you need more inspiration, take a look at this extensive list from Upworthy containing 101 things to try if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Remember that the feelings you’re having are temporary and with the right coping mechanisms and support, you can take care of yourself when things feel overwhelming.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) can also help – here are some blogs to read if you or a loved one is feeling anxious or stressed and needs some support:

  1. How to Help Someone With Anxiety
  2. 4 Self-care Tips for How to Deal with Anxiety
  3. How to Create Your Own Self-Care Plan
  4. Five Ways to Support a Loved One with Anxiety or Depression



Kelly, M. (2021, February 11). 10 easy breathing exercises for anxiety. Verywell Health.

MHFA. (2020). Mental Health First Aid USA for Adults Assisting Adults. Washington, DC: National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Wright, A. (2016, June 20). 101 ways to take care of yourself when the world feels overwhelming. Upworthy.

Get the latest MHFA blogs, news and updates delivered directly to your inbox so you never miss a post.

How to Deal with Feeling Overwhelmed: 9 Tips

Wondering how to deal with feeling overwhelmed? These coping tips can help.

If you find yourself asking “How do I stop feeling overwhelmed?” then trust that you’re not alone.

According to a 2020 survey of over 3,000 U.S. residents, conducted by the American Psychological Association, 60% of participants reported feeling overwhelmed by the number of issues that America is currently facing.

Stress doesn’t discriminate. It impacts everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or location. And it can stem from many personal and systemic factors, some of which we’ll outline below.

So, here’s a friendly reminder: Though it’s not always easy, it is possible to learn skills for coping with overwhelm. Learning the potential root causes and coping tips may help you manage your stress a bit easier, no matter what’s causing it.

There are so many causes of stress and overwhelm, some of which include:

  • work responsibilities
  • relationship stressors
  • traumatic experiences
  • financial worries
  • political issues
  • environmental warnings
  • health concerns
  • living in a global pandemic

Emotional regulation can be extra challenging for highly sensitive people and folks living with mental health conditions, like:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • anxiety disorders
  • autism
  • mood disorders

Each person has different stress level thresholds, and no one handles stress the same way. What overwhelms one person may not bother the next.

But there are certain coping strategies that everyone can try to reduce the amount of overwhelm experienced on a daily basis and in each stressful moment.

Here’s what to do when feeling overwhelmed.

A first important step to overcoming being overwhelmed is to figure out the root cause. The next time you have an overwhelming thought, ask yourself: What’s causing you to feel stressed right now?

Once you locate the source, you’re that much closer to problem solving and feeling better.

Ignoring or denying your overwhelm likely isn’t going to help. It’ll just bubble under the surface until you have no choice but to see and deal with it.

Instead, acknowledge the fact that you feel overwhelmed, and acknowledge any negative thoughts. And try not to judge yourself for what you’re feeling. This nonjudgmental acceptance might help reduce any feelings of shame or guilt associated with your stress, too.

When you have a million things going on, it can be challenging to focus on the here and now. But the present moment is all we truly have.

Tuning into it through mindfulness practices can help to reduce your anxiety over the past and the future.

Some ways to practice mindfulness include:

  • meditation
  • single-tasking, aka the opposite of multitasking
  • movement, like yoga or dance
  • mindfulness apps, like Calm or Headspace

A 2017 study among university students suggests that deep breathing can help reduce stress and improve mood.

And a 2019 study (with a limited sample size) indicates that diaphragmatic breathing can offer physiological and psychological stress relief, too.

When you feel yourself getting easily overwhelmed, try taking a deep breath and focusing on each inhale and exhale that follows until you feel more at ease.

If self-led breathing exercises like this don’t come naturally to you, that’s OK. You can listen to guided meditations as well.

It’s easy to focus on all things out of our control. And doing so has the potential to increase our anxiety.

But what about the things that we do have control over?

The next time you worry about something that’s out of your hands, attempt to redirect your attention to something within your power. This may be easier said than done, but the practice of letting go of the uncontrollable can be worthwhile.

We live in a society that doesn’t exactly prioritize rest or self-care. Most of us work a full day, get home, eat dinner, shower, do chores, and get ready for bed. Then we repeat that process the next day and the next, until we get a slice of relaxation on the weekend (that is, if we’re not busy playing catch-up from the week before).

Intentionally setting time aside to take breaks can reduce the amount of stress you feel from being “on” all the time. Even a 15-minute stretch break during the workday, a 1-minute mindfulness break, or a trip to your favorite spot to watch the sunset can help.

Are you doing enough of what you love? Or are you just grinding through each day trying to cross off all the tasks on your to-do list before the day ends?

Make it a point to set the time aside to bring joy into your life. What brings you pleasure? You might consider:

  • listening to music
  • going for a walk
  • cooking dinner
  • watching the sunset
  • spending time with loved ones

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and if it’s safe to reach out for physical contact, ask a friend, partner, or family member for a hug. A 2017 study study suggests that touch can reduce stress and promote overall well-being as a result.

A 2016 study in Brazil indicated that massage and reiki can also help lower stress and anxiety. So if a loved one isn’t within reach, receiving physical touch through these (or other) options can work, too.

If you’ve tried many coping mechanisms for feeling overwhelmed, and you still need help, consider speaking with a mental health professional.

Therapy can help you identify the root cause of what’s causing your overwhelm and offer personalized coping strategies that will work best for you.

Stress affects all of us differently. Sometimes it comes from personal sources, like relationships or work, and other times it stems from systemic factors, like politics or social justice.

But knowing how to stop feeling overwhelmed and ways to reduce anxiety when those feelings pop up can help to reduce your stress levels. Next time, try any of these coping strategies:

  • figuring out the root cause
  • focusing on your breath with deep breathing exercises
  • practicing mindfulness or meditation
  • speaking with a mental health professional

Most of all, it helps to remember that overwhelm happens to everyone. These feelings are temporary, and they’re going to pass. These tips can help you feel better sooner than later.

What to do to stop feeling overwhelmed

August 10, 2016 Productivity

Do you feel that your strength is at the limit, and the work has not been going well for a long time? Find out why this happens and what to do to correct the situation and enjoy life again.

You have a lot of things to do, but critically little time to complete them. Too many people want you to pay attention to them, but you can't because you're always in a hurry somewhere. You don’t understand how you can do everything on time, and even so that there is time for your personal life. Familiar situation? nine0003

At the dawn of the digital age, we firmly believed that gadgets would make our lives easier and less stressful in many ways. It seems like we've never been so wrong.

We have started working much harder than before and we can't stop even if we really want to: smartphones, Skype, instant messengers and e-mail have become an integral part of modern life. Yes, and colleagues from different time zones who want to be in touch around the clock. We are stuck at work. It is not at all surprising that with such a frantic pace of life, we often feel unwell. nine0003

Reasons why people feel overwhelmed

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to understand what exactly caused your depression. It seems like it all came crashing down at once. But think about this: fatigue is just a feeling that will pass sooner or later, you just need to identify what caused it and eliminate the cause.

Here is a short list of the most common causes of depression.

  • Someone is constantly taking advantage of you, and you don't know how to handle the situation and get rid of unpleasant obligations. nine0022
  • You are very much afraid that you will get into a compromising situation and will not be able to get out of it with dignity.
  • You are too responsible and are afraid to admit to yourself that you are no longer able to deal with the accumulated problems on your own.
  • You do not understand what you are asked to do, but you are afraid to confess, and this weighs on you.

What to do if everything went wrong

When it seems to you that everything in the world is infinitely sad and hopelessly bad, it is quite natural that you begin to feel the same way. Being depressed and tired from time to time is absolutely normal, but if this condition has become your constant companion, then you need to take appropriate measures. nine0003

  • Understand the real reason for your bad condition. What really upsets you? Or who?
  • Think about what you can change. Look at the problem realistically, honestly evaluate whether the situation can be turned around for the better, and do whatever is necessary to do so.
  • Make a plan. Draft a to-do list of several items that will help solve the problem. Commit changes as you go. Feel free to ask for help. nine0022

It also happens that you are simply unable to influence the current situation. Then you just need to accept it. Yes, it is not easy, but it makes a valuable contribution to the treasury of your life experience.

Done with the general advice. Let's move on to specific actions that you need to perform daily in order to feel much better.

1. Delegate

Do only what you are really good at. Sometimes people take on extra tasks just because they're easy enough, done quickly, and don't require a lot of effort. Sometimes - because of distrust of other people or because they believe that no one else is able to cope with them. Sometimes it's just out of habit. nine0003

All these tasks can easily be delegated to someone else so that you no longer feel like a loaded donkey. Ask yourself: Am I really the only person who can do this? In most cases, the answer will be no.

2. Question

Too often we do things just because we have to, or because we always did them. But are they really necessary? It is quite possible that we regularly spend a lot of time on absolutely useless activities. To stop wasting precious minutes, ask yourself two questions: Do I really have to complete this task? Will anything change if I don't do it? If both answers are negative, feel free to cross this item off your to-do list. nine0003

3. Take breaks

Find time to take a break. No matter how busy your schedule is, it is quite possible to allocate at least 15 minutes in it. This time will be enough for your brain to take a break and start working much more efficiently.

Imagine that these 15 minutes are the kind of mini-vacation you miss so much. Close your eyes for a couple of minutes and allow yourself to relax a little. And then, as if from the outside, try to look at the problem that worries you. We assure you, a solution will definitely be found. nine0003

4. Ask for help

When we feel overwhelmed and overwhelmed, we need support more than ever. For her, we turn to friends, family and even colleagues. Complaining about life within reasonable limits is perfectly acceptable, but know the measure: if you start constantly telling everyone about how difficult it is for you, you will achieve exactly the opposite effect. You don't need a reputation as a whiner, do you?

It is often helpful to look at a situation through the eyes of another person. nine0003

Tell someone about your concerns and ask for advice. Ask how your interlocutor would act in a similar situation and what actions he would take. Sometimes a fresh look helps to find rather unexpected ways out of a critical situation. And in general, maybe you are winding yourself up in vain and the problem is not as terrible as it seems?

5. Learn to refuse

Assess your abilities adequately: if you cannot cope with a large amount of work on your own, do not burden yourself with things just because it is inconvenient for you to refuse. Set reasonable boundaries and learn how to finally say the word "no". Every time before agreeing to something, think twice whether you can really cope with the obligations entrusted to you. nine0003

Don't know how to politely refuse? Be diplomatic. If your requester is a boss or an important client, try saying things like, “This is going to be pretty difficult given our current priorities. Let's try to find other ways to solve the problem?

6. Think about the people closest to you

If you can't cope with the growing tension, think about your closest people and how they would support you if they suddenly happened to be nearby. Instead of worrying about what a new colleague or some unfamiliar person will think of you, it’s better to remember those whose opinion you really value. This will give you the strength you need right now. nine0003

How to stop feeling depressed?


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Home / Stress management / How to stop feeling depressed?

In the life of almost every person, there are moments when hands give up, life seems gray and monotonous, and there seems to be no light. At such moments, many things cease to bring pleasure, and some even annoy. Bad thoughts come into my head, nothing works, I’m tired of work, my wife (or husband) always expresses her displeasure, children rush back and forth, I just want to relax, hide from everyone somewhere and not see anyone and maybe drink a bottle - another beer and drag on a cigarette. Of course, everyone experiences a depressive state in their own way, but one thing is clear for sure - it does not bring joy. How to be in such moments of life? In this article, we will talk about ten natural ways to get rid of depression. nine0125

In a depressed, depressed state, we are visited by negative thoughts one after another, it is natural that when you feel depressed it is difficult to think about something good. However, if you continue to listen to them, they will only aggravate your condition, it would be much better for you to take effective measures at this moment to improve your condition. The following tips will help you overcome the tendency to have negative thoughts and ease feelings of depression, and while they may not get rid of the problem completely, they will allow you to take a breather during which it will be easier for you to find a solution. If the problem seems too serious for you, do not hesitate to seek help from professional therapists. nine0003

Ten natural ways to stop feeling depressed.

1. Understanding emotional cycles. Life cannot be only black or white, no matter how much we want to feel good all the time, practice shows that sometimes we have to face a series of failures or a wave of problems. And at such moments it is very important to understand that the feeling of depression that you experience is natural and will certainly pass after some time. The very knowledge that the feeling of depression is temporary makes it less scary. nine0003

2. Spend time with positive people. Nothing affects the way you think and how you feel like the people you interact with. Thoughts are contagious, both positive and negative. If you surround yourself with negative people, you are more likely to start thinking like them. Therefore, to improve your outlook on life, spend more time with positive people. When communicating with them, try to understand how they see the world. The feeling of depression you experience will be greatly relieved by the mere fact of being with positive, fun people. nine0003

3. Reflect on past successes. When you feel depressed, it's hard to think about something good, and it's easy to forget that in the history of your life there are not only failures, but also victories. Take a few minutes to reflect on your past successes. What made you successful back then? What strengths did you show in those cases? How did you feel when you completed your business successfully? Remembering your past achievements will increase your sense of self-confidence, and naturally ease the surging feeling of despondency. nine0003

4. Focus on gratitude. People tend to compare themselves with other people, but more often than not, we compare ourselves with people who have achieved greater success than we do. Sometimes such a comparison allows us to inspire ourselves to great achievements, and sometimes it makes us feel bad about ourselves. If you are experiencing feelings of depression and feeding yourself thoughts of dissatisfaction with the current conditions of your life, think of those people who are less fortunate in life than you. Your problems will seem less significant to you compared to what these people have to endure. Remember, there is always something for which you can be thankful in life, but sometimes you just do not notice it or do not want to notice it. nine0003

5. Change the scenery. Sometimes when we feel down, our environment becomes associated with negative feelings. Objects around us begin to remind us of our problems, and this makes it more difficult to cope with depression. To improve the condition, try a change of scenery. It is not necessary to move furniture or re-paste wallpaper for this, simple changes in the atmosphere of your workspace or room will be enough. Add some light, change curtains or curtains, buy an indoor flower, any, even the smallest but noticeable, changes can have a positive effect on your condition. nine0003

6. Break up the routine. If everything in your life is becoming predictable, if you know exactly to the minute what you will do tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and every day is similar to the previous one, it's time to think about making changes to your schedule. Routine fills a person with dull feelings and thoughts, and this, in turn, complicates the task of ending depression. If you want to ease your depression, make changes to your routine. Take a day off, do something that you never had time for. Take a walk in the city or park, meet friends, go on a picnic, to the cinema, to an amusement park or sit in a cafe. Any positive changes to your schedule will improve your condition. nine0003

7. Go out into nature. Living nature has some kind of invisible, healing energy that has a beneficial effect on the state of the human soul. Just take a walk in the forest, watch the birds, animals living there, the beauty and strength of mighty trees, all these are living beings, almost the same as us, except that they do not have a mind. They care little about the past and the future, they all live in the present and enjoy every day. Listen to the birds singing, the rustle of leaves in the wind, the murmur of the brook, look at the passing clouds and the rays of the sun making their way down through the foliage of the trees. Nature is beautiful and harmonious, being in nature it is difficult not to think about something good. nine0003

8. Get moving. Probably each of you has heard the expression: “Movement is life”, this phrase will never cease to be true. The more physically active you are, the higher your mood level. Why do you think a person needs morning exercises? That's right, in order to recharge your batteries for the whole day. In general, any physical activity contributes to the improvement of your physical and spiritual condition. If you want to get rid of a depressed state, go to the gym, or take a short walk, run in the park, or at least do some exercises at home. nine0003

9. Change your point of view. How big are your problems? If you look at them as insurmountable circumstances, it starts to depress you even more. But why not try to look at them from a different point of view. Imagine how you would look at them five, ten or fifteen years later. How significant is your problem relative to the problems of all mankind? And how significant is your problem on a galactic or universal scale? What will your problem look like after millions of years, when thousands of generations have changed? From this perspective, we appear as tiny blades of grass, blowing up minor problems to the size of an elephant. nine0003

10. Do something. What is the use of your lamentations, accusations against yourself or anyone else? Does your desire to hide from everyone, the bitterness of resentment, guilt or self-pity bring you closer to solving the problem? Start thinking not about the problem as such, but about how to solve it. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important steps you can take to alleviate depression. Think about how you can solve the problem in front of you and take action. Believe me, this is much better than tormenting yourself with thoughts about the problem, about what you could have done so that it did not arise, and possible negative consequences. nine0003

How you deal with your depression determines how and in what time frame you can deal with it. Quite often, depression is fueled by negative thoughts, but thoughts are something you can control, or learn to control. Throw away the thoughts that make you feel negative, distract yourself with something that gives you joy. Most problems are temporary, and most of them you can handle, and if you can't do it yourself, remember that there are people around you, and among them there is someone who can help you. nine0003

© NT

Home / Stress management / How to stop feeling depressed?

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