Strategies for managing overwhelming feelings

31st January 2021

At some point, we all experience that tipping point moment when things just seem to feel ‘too much.’ It’s like your laptop with too many tabs open at the same time. We’re stopped in our tracks. The brain’s overloaded and even though we can see what needs to be done, we’re paralysed by indecision.

Sound familiar?

In that moment when we’re stuck and it all begins to feel too much, it’s our emotional brain that’s sensing a potential threat. It sees the threat of failing, or of letting others down or of reinforcing that what we do isn’t good enough. Unconsciously we react to these threats in the same way that we do with other threats. It’s the good old fight, flight or freeze response that’s been triggered. Our rational front brain is offline and we’re at the mercy of the back brain – and although it may sound silly, the back brain is telling the rest of the body “this IS a matter of life or death!”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck with more than you can handle, here are 4 things you can do to get through it:

  1. Get tough with prioritising.

Dump anything that doesn’t need to get done RIGHT NOW. You’ll need to be ruthless and be completely honest with yourself about what REALLY IS important!

2. Work in short, sharp bursts

Set yourself a timer, of no more than say 45 minutes and go for it! When the time’s up give yourself a little break. It doesn’t have to be long, even a micro break of minutes will give you a wee boost. There’s lots of evidence that illustrates how regular breaks actually increase our productivity rather than reduce it! Here’s an interesting article if you’d like to find out more about that!

3. Do something, no matter how small – even one small step is a step forward!

Overwhelm recedes when we start to take action – things change when we start to do something, no matter how small. Find a place to start and give yourself a gentle nudge to get going. Even 10 minutes on that thing you’ve been putting off is better than nothing – and maybe that will give you the incentive to keep going. 

And finally….

Remember you’re doing the best that you can and no matter what, be kind to yourself. The last thing you need is to be beating up on yourself about what’s not getting done or what’s not perfect!!