How To Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed & Increase Your Confidence
Overwhelm is a very familiar feeling for me.
There have definitely been times in my life when I felt so overwhelmed that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to change it or where I would even start.
So I didn’t do anything.
That started an ugly cycle of feelings that were very damaging to my confidence. If you never start something because you feel overwhelmed, then you never make progress towards your goals.
Remember, a thought plus a feeling equal a belief. And, I believed that I was incapable and unworthy of seeing any success or joy in my life.
Thankfully, I learned how to deal with feeling overwhelmed and what to do when those feelings crept in.
Why do we feel overwhelmed?
Identifying your feelings is a great first step toward how to deal with feeling overwhelmed. It’s more than likely that the feelings of overwhelm have to do with the pressures that you’re putting on yourself.
There are a few very common reasons why you might be feeling overwhelmed.
Your expectations are unrealistic
If you have said yes to everything that’s been asked of you, that is probably contributing to your feelings of overwhelm. Did you know that it’s okay to say “I’m sorry, but no, I can’t.” I am giving you permission to do that in this very moment. I am giving you permission to say no.
As a business owner, this was a difficult one for me to learn and to implement because every opportunity that comes my way could be the big one.
But at the end of the day, if I’m saying yes to everything, I’m only capable of doing each of those things a little bit and that’s not fair to anyone. Not to my clients, my family, and most of all, not to me.
So pushing back and saying, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t volunteer to give out popcorn at the basketball game tonight” and not feeling guilty, is perfectly fine and healthy.
Setting those boundaries and pushing back and saying no helps you better manage the tasks on your list each day.
If you have set some goals for yourself, those goals and the tasks that go along with them should be your top priorities. If you are getting emails and push notifications and text messages and Slack notification and Instagram DMs about things other than your goals, you need to shut down all of that noise.
When you give those things focus, you’re conditioning yourself to value every one of those notifications. And it’s not that they’re not valuable or important, but they don’t need your attention right this minute.
You can schedule a time to go and look at your email or schedule a time to go and look at your Instagram DMs.
You don’t need to see all of them right this minute if they are not related to your goals.
If one of your goals is to go to the gym every day or take a walk every day, the only notification you really need is the alarm on your phone that tells you it’s time to go to the gym or it’s time to take a walk.
You don’t need to have Facebook or Instagram notification showing up on your phone so that you end up in a scroll hole and suddenly your time block for the gym has passed by because you’ve been sidetracked on social media.
You’re not prioritizing self-care
In my opinion, every difficult thing about midlife and beyond can be remedied by practicing daily self-care. And self-care doesn’t have to be things like going to get a massage or a pedicure or something indulgent.
You can just put together a daily self-care kit that includes things like meditation or hypnosis, affirmations, yoga and journaling. If you’re not practicing daily self-care, you are jeopardizing your mental and emotional health.
And, you are most definitely making it more difficult to learn how to deal with feeling overwhelmed.
It is crucial that you make time for self-care daily.
Your cup is empty
We all have the same number of hours in a given day. So how is it that some people are able to get so much more done than other people?
In my opinion, this has a lot to do with the way that you treat and care for your physical and mental health.
Eating well, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep are essential to maintaining your physical health. Optimum physical and emotional health can make you way more capable of how to deal with feeling overwhelmed.
But if you are trying to pour from an empty cup, you’re going to hit a wall. You’re going to start feeling the symptoms of overwhelm and you are going to burn out.
You’re striving for perfection.
If you are practicing living an authentic life, you know that it is an ongoing process. You’ve accepted your strengths and your weaknesses and you recognize that vulnerability is a beautiful gift that gives you the opportunity to grow your creativity and your compassion.
You also know that progress is perfection.
Embrace the idea that consistent daily progress compounds into major life-changing shifts. Progress is perfection. You will not achieve perfection in the sense that you are defining it.
Liberate yourself from expectation
The thing about overwhelm is that it can creep up on you. Unfortunately, most of us don’t pay attention to the fact that we’re overwhelmed until we start to have serious physical symptoms.
I lived with anxiety for 30 years and never really connected it with my lack of daily stress management. But, it turns out there were red flags all over the place that I wasn’t paying attention to. My body was trying to tell me to figure out how to deal with feeling overwhelmed.
But, I didn’t pay attention and ended up burnt out and broken down.
The symptoms of overwhelm include things like;
- trouble focusing
- only seeing the negative in situations
- having anxious thoughts or constant racing mind
- always worrying and wondering “what if”
- trouble remembering things
- depersonalization or disassociation
- being angry or irritable or moody
- feeling lonely and isolated
- having digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea
- getting dizzy or nauseous
- having a suppressed immune system and getting colds and the flu
- having an achy body and headaches
- sleeping too little or too much
- not wanting to be around peopl
- self-medicating with alcohol or drugs
If you have any of the symptoms on this list, then it’s definitely time for you to listen to your body figure out how to deal with feeling overwhelmed.
How to let go of overwhelm
Once accept that your physical symptoms are connected to overwhelm, then it’s important to begin learning how to deal with feeling overwhelmed. I unconsciously lived in a state of constant pain, fatigue and anxiety because of not dealing with overwhelm.
But, I finally got to a point where I knew that I could not live the next 40 years of my life, the way that I had my first 40 years.
And that sent me down a path of self-discovery.
I was able to learn many different ways to manage my stress and to let go of my overwhelm.
Take a beat
I used to tease that I was a freight train and when I had a destination in mind, I was heading towards that destination with no stops.
The problem was being a freight train with racing thoughts, negative self-talk, not enough sleep, poor nutrition, and unrealistic expectations left me at the hot mess express station.
I had to learn to have the courage to take a beat, to just stop, take five deep breaths and center myself.
Things like running late, canceled plans, kids, and work all create stress on a daily basis. So, if you have to spend Sunday afternoon on the couch for five hours reading to recharge your batteries, so be it.
And trust me, I’m 40 years old and my youngest child is five so I completely understand the guilt that comes with taking five hours to yourself.
But you have to realize that those five hours on a Sunday to read a book and recuperate are much easier for your family to work around than you ending up in the hospital having a nervous breakdown.
It’s okay to set those boundaries and take a beat to say, I need a break.
Let go of the things that are not essential
When you have set goals for yourself, there are going to be other things in your life that you don’t have to do. For instance, my daughter is 13 years old.
She is more than capable of making her own lunch in the morning while I take 15 minutes to have a cup of tea and listen to my hypnosis.
It’s just a little thing, but it makes a huge difference. There are things that you are doing that you don’t need to do. And, you can let go of those things in favor of making your goals and your own self-care a priority.
Learn to say no
This is something that we have talked about several times, but it’s so important. One major change that I made in my life is grocery delivery. I decided that going to the grocery store was something that I did not like doing.
Walking all around the grocery store, coming home, packing the groceries into the house, going to several grocery stores to get all of the things that I need for a family of five. So I have started having our groceries delivered to the front door and it was a complete game changer.
I also started having the kids ride the bus home from school rather than going to pick them up. It’s a very simple thing. They absolutely love it. It’s safe. They get home a little bit sooner than they would if I went to pick them all up and it gives me a little bit of extra time in the afternoon before homework.
There are things that you can say no to set your boundaries.
Identify your values
You don’t have to live your life based on the values that you were taught while you were growing up. Unless those values feel like they’re in alignment with you.
Set your priorities based on your values and your goals. How do you want your life to be? Make choices based on your values and your goals and your priorities.
If something is not going to help you further your goals, then it’s not a priority and you don’t have to do it. Instead, eliminate the chaos and simplify.
I heard a quote somewhere and I can’t remember where, but it said “Your mind is for having ideas not for holding them”.
I love that quote because it gives me a really clear visual of all that I am holding in my mind that doesn’t need to be taking up space.
Focus on your self-esteem
If you are constantly feeling a need to perform or prove something to the world you’re going to end up overwhelmed and burnt out.
If you are living your authentic life, being true to yourself, and you have a good amount of self-esteem, then you make decisions based on what you know is good for you.
When you’re not concerned with how things will come across to other people, you are liberated and relieved of anxiety.
How to love yourself and your goals when you’re overwhelmed.
If you’ve gotten to a place of overwhelm, then you’ve probably felt weak or inept. Maybe you’ve even felt so overwhelmed that you couldn’t even start.
All of these things lead to losing faith in yourself, especially when it comes to trying to reach goals. So once you have connected with the symptoms of overwhelm and you’ve implemented some steps for letting go of overwhelm, it’s important to love yourself again and to be recommitted and connected to your goals.
There are a few simple ways to do that.
Start writing down or telling yourself what you love about yourself, whether it’s standing in front of the mirror or writing a list in your journal every day.
It’s important for you to stay connected with the things about yourself that you love. These can be things that are superficial, like your nose or your freckles.
And they can be deeper like the way that you treat people or a way that you are very thoughtful. Things that are personality traits.
You know that it feels good to tell other people what you love about them. So why not tell yourself those things too!?
Practice ways to live an authentic life
Living authentically means being true to who you are on a daily basis. And in order to be true to who you are, you have to learn who you are.
And that whole process helps to relieve so much overwhelm because you have to accept what is, you have to accept your strengths and weaknesses.
You have to accept your natural style and personality without judgment. And the whole process helps to relieve overwhelm because, in order to be authentic, you can’t be living with the worry of what other people are gonna think.
You just come to a place of authenticity without the worry of judgment. And that’s very freeing.
If there are people in your life who bring you down or who make you feel like you’re less than, then set boundaries and spend less time with those people. Instead, surround yourself with people who are accepting and loving of you.
Let go of the past
Walking through your day with feelings of guilt, regret or resentment is only going to get you the same thing that you’ve always gotten. If you want to change who you are, you have to change what you do.
So, let go of those feelings of guilt, resentment, and regret. You are a superhuman, but you are not superhuman. Forgive yourself.
Good people make bad choices. Mistakes happen. They’re an opportunity to learn, move forward,
Show gratitude for what you have right now
It took me some time to learn that showing gratitude is not the same as settling. There are many areas of my life that I want to improve, grow, and expand.
But, there are also many areas of my life that I am very thankful for. I can be thankful and show gratitude for how far I’ve come while at the same time, setting goals and striving for bigger and better and more.
Showing gratitude for what you have right now is a great way to celebrate your wins and to keep you on track for the next set of goals.
Feel happy every day
Living a good life and loving yourself means making good decisions and participating in activities that inspire you.
Things like self-care, hobbies, and passions are all energizing and will help you to feel that love and connection with your spirit.
Trust yourself and your abilities
This process that you’re going through is intense. But, if you trust yourself and your ability to come out on the other side with greater understanding and deeper connection, you will make it through.
Acknowledging the overwhelm in your life, recognizing the symptoms that it’s causing, implementing ways to let go of the overwhelm and then loving yourself and reconnecting with your goals.
It’s all a huge process, but it’s so worth it and you will 100% come out the other side. Thankful that you’ve gone through it. You’ve gone through each day of the last 40 years with a certain level of anxiety and stress and overthinking.
It’s time to shift all of that and move into a mindset of calm, acceptance and self-love.