How to Quit Feeling Overwhelmed

I’m feeling the big “O.” No, not that Big O. Get your mind out of the gutter. The other one. I’m talking about OVERWHELMED. Without going into detail, my life has pretty much been turned upside down these past few months.

OverwhelmedAre you in the same boat?

Do you feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions at once? Does it seem like there is never enough time to get things done? Do you have people that suck the energy right out of you?  Do you feel like you are drowning?

If the answer to any of those question is yes, you are no doubt feeling overwhelmed just like me.

Synonyms for the word “overwhelm” include crushed, defeated, buried, overcome, and flooded. No one wants those negative feelings, but what can you do if you’re feeling this way?

Doing a bit of research on this subject, many of the articles I came across gave advice I’ve previously dispensed in this blog to overcome stress including:

  • Do things that physically calm you like taking a walk, writing in a journal, listening to calm music, or practicing relaxation exercises and deep breathing.
  • Replace negative thoughts with thoughts that are more productive.
  • Learn to accept your feelings without being controlled by them.
  • If you’re stressed about getting something done, often the simple step of taking action can help alleviate some of the anxiety.
  • Delegate responsibilities whenever possible.

All good ideas. What else can you do?

Something in an article, Five Ways to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, written by Marcus Buckingham, author of Find Your Strongest Life, and published on the Best Health Magazine site, struck a chord with me. It’s the simplest thing, really.

“Your feelings of being overwhelmed don’t spring from having too much on your plate, but from having too little of what strengthens you,” he wrote.


That statement led me to examine what strengthens me. Prayer, meditating on the Bible, and attending religious services. My marriage. My children and grandchildren. Making a positive difference in other people’s lives. Exercising and being physically fit. Writing.

The article suggests listing the activities you love and look forward to the most and make sure they are at the top of your list of things to do. Then celebrate the activities afterwards.

This made sense to me. Although we don’t have the freedom to travel now, my husband and I were fortunate to have traveled extensively in the past. These trips gave us something to look forward to for weeks or months. Then, after we got home and sorted through all the photos, we relived all the great moments. In fact, the vacation provided wonderful memories for years to come.

Why not apply that to smaller activities that give you joy and strength? Look forward to, celebrate, and cherish the memories of special moments such as a night out with a loved one, making someone smile, a day at the park with the grandchildren, a hug from a friend, or a beautiful sunset.

As the article so aptly put: “Cradling these activities will give you strength and resilience to get through everything else.”

Image courtesy of marcolm at


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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2 Responses

  1. Excellent advice Julie. The two most soothing activities are reading and taking a walk – and I make sure I do both of those every day. In fact my dog Lucy makes sure I get outside with her several times a day – I could just let her out but it’s so much nicer to walk around with her and throw the ball a few minutes and then I’m refreshed and ready to get back to work. This would be one of the BIG perks of working at home. 🙂

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