13 Tips for When You Feel Overwhelmed

Since hitting my mid-late thirties I began experiencing an intense level of zen in day to day life. I think it comes from my row across the Atlantic Ocean. When things didn’t go to plan and we just had to deal with situations in a calm and rational manner. A truly life-changing experience!

But the last few days has got me feeling anxious. On edge. Things are getting the better of me. Overwhelmed!

Within the next week I am:
– packing up everything I own and moving house
– doing my practical commercial drone test
– packing and preparing for an ultra marathon
– flying to Sri Lanka to run the ultra marathon (250km over 5 days)
– Not knowing if the ultra marathon is going to get cancelled due to the Corona virus

It’s all left me feeling a bit peculiar.

As usual, when I feel like this, I think, “what can I do to make myself feel better? How have I managed this feeling in the past?”
I started writing some tips for myself and it turned into a blog.
I like writing because it helps me at that moment but also in the future when I can read things like this back. I’m hoping this also provides value to others.

Here are my tips for when things get too much.

Do any kind of exercise whether it be a walk, run, yoga, exercise class or whatever else you enjoy.

This works in several ways. Firstly, it gets your endorphins going, the feel-good hormones. It’s also likely to take you away from the overwhelming environment and give your brain a rest from thinking about whatever is stressing you out.

You may not feel like exercising (like me the other day, I just wanted to hide under the duvet) but even 15 minutes might help.
(I did end up going to the gym, even though I didn’t feel like it and I did feel better. As a result, I ended up writing this blog).

Following on from the previous point, get outside in the fresh air – take a walk, even if it’s to the shop or around the block.

I know, this seems like the answer to everything, but it works!
Even if you only have time to take 10 deep, slow, conscious breaths, it will provide your brain and body with much needed oxygen AND give them a small break from the chaos.
Focus on each inward and outward breath.

Hopefully, once you’ve done 10, thoughts will be a little clearer.
You could also incorporate this into the tip above when taking a walk.

Remember you are in control of how you feel and how you manage your feelings.
You may not be in control of the situation that’s making you feel overwhelmed, but you are capable of controlling how it’s making you feel.

In some cases, you can change the situation that is making you feel overwhelmed – you can cancel a meeting, reschedule an appointment, chose to take extra rest and not scroll through social media (SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT A FORM OF RELAXATION!).

Ask yourself “what is making me feel overwhelmed” and “what can I do to ease that feeling?”
It might be uncomfortable cancelling a meeting or telling your boss you can’t do something, but most people are understanding.
Explain how you feel. You might be surprised by what you get back from it.

I know this can’t be done is some cases (I can’t cancel or reschedule moving house), but what I can do is take regular breaks from packing.

Separate yourself from the overwhelming situation, even if it’s for 15 minutes.

In a world of ‘say yes to opportunity,’ it’s ok to say no.
You can say no to your friends. You can say no to your boss (although you might want to word it differently) and you can say no to yourself.
You can even say no although you’ve already said yes. It’s ok to change your mind.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, chances are you have too much going on.
It’s time to start cancelling some things, getting some time back and easing the pressure.

This is one of my favourite sayings.
Know that this overwhelming feeling will pass. It won’t last forever.
Most of the time there are things YOU CAN DO to make yourself feel better, such as the points in this blog.

Take one day at a time.
You can’t do more than one thing at a time and be in more than one place.
Don’t think too far in the future and about all the things you need to do. Deal with one thing at a time.

With so many things to do over the next few days, it’s easy for me to feel stressed out. “How am I going to get everything done!?” But I realise I have 5 days and I’ll do each task in a calm and methodical manner, one at a time.

Share with a friend, family member, colleague or superior about how you feel or what is rushing around your brain.
Many people these days put on a brave face and pretend everything is ok when it’s not.
It’s ok to admit you are overwhelmed and have too much on.

Speak to a friend and get advice about what they would do.
Speak to your boss and explain you have too many tasks to do.
You never know what will come of a conversation – most likely what will happen is you will come away feeling better!

It’s ok to ask for help – whether that be physical or emotional.

I am very fortunate to have a friend who is helping me decorate and build furniture in my new pad. I was going to do it alone because I didn’t want to bother anyone.
Then a friend offered to help and it got me thinking, “why didn’t I ask for help? I should have just asked.”

If you need support, ask for it!

I got this one from Ross Edgley when he swam around Great Britain, 1,780 miles over 157 days!
The Science of a Smile (blog coming soon)…..
I’m always fascinated that a smile, whether be a natural one or forced, makes me feel better. I do it when I run. If I’m having a bit of a horrible time, I crack a smile and it makes me feel better.
There’s actual science behind it where it has a positive physiological effect on how we feel.

I realise if you are feeling overwhelmed and a bit pants, one of the last things you want to do is fake a smile, but give it a go. Take control of how you feel and manage it.
Crack a smile, I dare you!

I realise this can’t be applied to all cases, but it can be applied to some.
When I reread the list of things I am doing this week, I realise they are really exciting.
I’m moving in with a super cool fitness friend, into a lovely house in an awesome part of London. This a good thing!
I am preparing to travel to Sri Lanka to take part in an incredible event. This a good thing!
If the event gets cancelled (due to COVID-19) I can transfer my entry to next year and focus on creating more videos and blogs. This is a good thing!

I realise doing the steps above won’t be a magical solution to how you feel but it’s a good start.
As with most of my posts, it’s about a management, not a miracle cure.

If you can do all of the above things then great! But if not, just one will help. Even if it doesn’t get rid of the feeling, it can help manage it and prevent it from getting worse.

We are in charge of our actions, thoughts and feelings. Take control.

I’d love to know if you found this blog useful. I know it was really useful in helping me understand my feelings and find a solution to making me feel better.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on being overwhelmed or if you found this helpful, head over to Twitter and let me know.

Thank you for reading.

Edit: The day after writing this post, my ultra marathon was cancelled due to the Coronavirus.
I rescheduled my rental van and changed the day I am moving by 2 days. Everyone involved was cool with the decision. In fact, it suited them more.
I wrote this here to demonstrate that sometimes circumstances can change which can instantly ease pressure within a situation.