9 Activities to Stop Overwhelm Right Now

holistic organizer, meditation, overwhelm, priorities5 Comments

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Mindful-1When I participated in the Escape Your Prison Telesummit the beginning of 2013, one of my colleagues, Erika Salloux, mentioned something in her talk that has continued to stay with me: When you’re in overwhelm, that really just means that you body and your mind aren’t in the same place at the same time.

How many times do you feel your brain is racing ten steps ahead of where you are right now? Interestingly, what can end overwhelm may be exactly the opposite of what you think it might be. Instead of doing more, try doing less. Quite simply, ending overwhelm is usually achieved by being present in the moment, right here, right now.

Here are nine activities you can try to end overwhelm right now:

1. Go for a hike or a walk. If you can get out in nature and away from all the noise, opt for that, but if not, get out there and get the blood flowing. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and let go of all those things you’re “supposed” to be doing. Notice the vegetation, the animals, how your body feels, and whatever else is present in the moment.

2. Do yoga. Yoga poses are hard for a reason, they force you to be present right here right now. If you’re a seasoned yogi, go for the poses that are the most challenging. If you’re new to yoga, take a beginners class or check out a video that’s right for your fitness level. Not only is yoga good for the physical body, it’s good for the mind as well.

3. Practice four-count breathing. Focus on your breath and give each side of your breath an four equal counts – breathe in for four counts, hold your breath in for four counts, exhale for four counts, hold your exhale out for four counts. Do several rounds of this until you feel centered again. (This is also a great practice to do right before bed if you have trouble sleeping).

4. Make a list of your priorities. When I start to feel overwhelmed I know it’s because I’m forgetting what my priorities really are. You can ask yourself daily, “If I could only get one thing done today, what would be the most important for me to accomplish?” When you know your priorities, overwhelm starts to slip away.

5. Ask yourself, what is the payoff? Our society values a go, go, go attitude. It values a supermom who can get it all done. Are you buying into this? Does being so busy make your feel important or satisfied? Does having so much to do make you feel like you’re accomplishing more? Make a list of the payoffs you get from being in overwhelm – remember “payoff” doesn’t mean it’s a positive thing, only that you receive some type of benefit.

6. Put time for self care in your calendar FIRST. Are you overwhelmed because there’s never any time to take care of yourself? Schedule time for your favorite self care activities before saying “yes” to others.

7. Learn how to say NO. Many times we say “yes” when we really mean “no”, which can lead to resentment and feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff on our calendars. When you say “no” to others, you’re saying “yes” to yourself and your peace of mind.

8. Sit down and meditate. Try focusing on just your breath. If your mind slips into your overwhelm, just let it go and come back to your breath. As counterintuitive as it sounds, sometimes thinking about “nothing” is when we can accomplish the most. Part of the reason for this is because when we come back to our work, we’re more focused, centered and grounded.

9. Be mindful in everything you do. If you’re washing the dishes, really pay attention to how it feels to wash the dishes. If your making dinner, notice everything about the meal you’re making. When you’re present in the current moment, overwhelm can’t come in because your mind and your body are in the same place at the same time. Nothing else matters except this moment.

How do you deal with overwhelm? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the blog comments!


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  • TrudyScottNutritionist

    What great tips! I’m so pleased to see you mention saying NO! It can be
    tough for so many of us. I’d like to add an 10th one…low serotonin
    can also contribute to a busy brain with ruminating thoughts, worry and
    overwhelm, plus negative self-talk. I find tryptophan supplementation
    to be very helpful with my clients, in conjunction with all the tips you

    Trudy Scott, author of “The Antianxiety Food Solution”

  • TracyKPierce

    Thanks, Trudy! In my own experience there are a lot of chemical imbalances, sometimes caused by toxins and other build ups in the body that can also contribute to overwhelm. One Wellness client I worked with decided to do a Conscious Cleanse and then has continued to eliminate processed foods from his diet – this has helped reduce his feelings of anxiety and overwhelm tremendously. I also saw significant changes in my own issues with anxiety and overwhelm after working with a Nutrition Response Testing (NRT) practitioner and doing several months of supplementation to eliminate toxins from my body in addition to using the 9 Activities above. I would suggest that if people aren’t experiencing reduced levels of overwhelm by using some of the techniques in the article that they consider working with a qualified nutritionist or holistic wellness practitioner to see if there might be other underlying factors that need to be addressed.

  • TrudyScottNutritionist

    I agree, toxins can wreak havoc on the body and addressing these and other underlying factors is the way to go. It’s really great to hear you saw reduction of anxiety and overwhelm!

  • This kind of goes along with tip #4, but I make a point of entering all the thoughts from my head into my task management system. Knowing it’s been recorded means I can stop thinking about it until it’s time to actually take action.

  • TracyKPierce

    I totally agree with you, Janet! And making sure all those to-do’s get recorded in one place instead of a few different places has helped me as well.