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11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

11 Things To Do When You Are OverwhelmedHave you ever wished that you have 36 hours a day and superhuman power because you are overwhelmed by all the tasks(of all sizes) that are raining upon you? You are working on deadlines, you kids birthday in a week, projects need rescuing, a business making losses, financial commitment to fulfill and the last thing you need is to forget your anniversary(and deal with the aftermath that follows).

If you are groaning over something similar as you read this, then you probably have the feeling like being drowned in big tidal waves. Before you continue your stressful struggle against what seems like juggling the impossible, I want you to carve a smile on your face. And no, you didn’t get me wrong. Smile. Force it if you have to. Just do it.

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Because when you smile, it triggers some of your emotional memory and draws positive energy from within you. Getting all stressed up doesn’t solve all your problems and tasks in hand. Working on it on a positive level gives you a fresh and wider perspective. Your choice.

Now that you are at least trying to be positive instead of moping on all your problems, let’s get down to some practical things to do when you are overwhelmed. Here’s what to do when you are overwhelmed :

1. Stay Calm

11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

It is easy to crumble under pressure and lost your cool when you have things stacking up against you. Don’t let it happen. Take a deep breathe. Keep your cool and stay calm. Here’s where your mind is playing all tricks on you, telling how things would get worse (and it often did IF you fall prey to your negative thoughts) . In most cases, things are not as bad as it seems.

Even if you are trying to hit multiple deadlines and or your business is in the red, chances are there are solutions that you have overlooked because you are all over your head on what else could go wrong. Be calm and believe that you have the answer. It is easier this way.

2. Prioritize

Stop listening to your lies that you have to solve all the problems or finish all the tasks at once. Figure out what is more important to you. Missing your kid’s concert or cancelling a meeting with your client? Choices like this do put extra stress to you. But when you have a list of the issues that need your attention according to their importance, you find it easier to negotiate or compromise on those that are of less importance.

Make the people you love a top priority, always”  that’s what Marc Chernoff said on prioritizing your life for happiness in his post here. I’ll always attend to the problems of my loved one first. How about you?

3. Focus

11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed
If you have listed over 20 items on your “things-to-do-else-life-gets-crazy” list, then you will be tempted to tackle all of them at once. Or you would be trying to fix the first one and barely make headway into it, you move on to the next one. Before the day ended, you have tried to fix every single item on your list but making little progress after all.

Don’t try to multitask. In fact, multitasking is bad for your brain. It even adds on more stress to what you already have. It feels good to multitask, but you are not really productive at all. Here’s an article by Travis Bradberry  that shows you how it kills your brain and may even lower your performance.

4. Get Support

Sometimes being overwhelmed will put you into a defensive mode. Call it ego or a stubborn streak. You will want to get it all done by your own. Maybe it’s some pride issue. You wanted to feel worthy by being able to handle all the issues with your own effort.

Here’s what I say. This is pure foolishness. And selfish too.

If you are a programmer getting stuck at some lines of code, get help from others.Talk to someone who has done it, if you are struggling to scale your business. Or if you are troubled by how to save your money the right way, then do something like The Six Jars system. Get help. You don’t have to do it on your own.

5. Delegate

11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

There are times people get overwhelmed because they do not know how to delegate. There are only 24 hours a day. How you use every single minute determine how well you are going to manage your ever growing to-do list. Go through your checklist, does every single task need you to be on hand?

If not, you can hire someone to do it. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork are a good place to outsource work related tasks. Or you can trade favours with your friends to get them help you out this time. The saying that “Two heads are better than one” is very true in this case.

6. Drop Certain Things Off

Check your schedule again. Are you on a community project every Sunday? Do you go to a dancing class every week? I mean, these are good things. I’m always a big fan of learning and giving back to the society. But you need to learn how to be flexible and to adapt to your situation.

If it calls for more time on your kids, business or your career that’s not going on too well, maybe it’s time to put some of the hobbies or charitable efforts on hold? At least till you got things under control.

7. Exercise

11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

You may want to put all your time into sorting things out and leave none for your well-being. Don’t do that. Once you neglect your health, you will be operating much less than your optimum productivity.

I know you want to cut off those time driving to your favourite gym. But there’s some workout routine from ACE Fitness (25 routines) that you can do at home to keep your health in good condition. A 30-minutes of workout each day would give you the extra boost of energy to stay on top of things.

8. Get enough rest

Sleeping a couple of hour less does not equal additional two productive hours. If you think this is a good way to clear your overwhelming list of pending issues, you are wrong. In fact, being deprived of sleep will affect your focus and decision making, according to an article on

If you really can’t manage to get enough sleep, try catching power naps in between your day hour. You will find it refreshing, energized and enable you to tackle your task in a more efficient manner. I’d rather have a 2 productive hours with quality rest time in between than a continuous 8 hours operating at 50% efficiency.

9. Keep Your Mindset Positive

11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

With so many things occupying your mind, it is easy to feel negative. “When would I see any light in the tunnel? “ you would ask as you labourously work through every issue that needs your attention. Remind yourself that things will not be the same in 3 months time, and so does your feelings and emotion at this very moment.

Subscribe to your favourite inspirational quotes. Find time to listen to great motivational speakers like Nick Vujicic and Tony Robbins to get your spirit up. Make it a priority to start your day off on a positive note.

You may also want to surround yourself with positive people and keep negative acquaintance away (you know who they are when you are constantly feeling drained around them). Energy is contagious. You want to be positive all the time.

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10. Practice Gratitude

Instead of blaming your circumstances with thoughts like “Why am I going through all these?“, chose to be grateful for the little things you have in your life. As long as you are in the cycle of negative thoughts of anger,blaming or excuses, you are inviting more problems or issues to what you already have in hand.

Call it Law Of Attraction or maybe it’s just life giving you a lesson in management. The thing is once you are at peace with your situation, you will find things would start to change. Just like a grip that has loosen slightly. And it all starts with gratitude.

11. Meditate

11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

If you find sleep hard to come by when you are overwhelmed, it’s a sign that your mind is in a flux of emotions.  You need quality deep sleep to replenish your energy. Here are some tips to get quality sleep.

If you have practiced meditation before, it’s time to bring it back into your routine. If you are new to meditation, then you may try guided meditation that helps to calm your mind. A program like Clear-Mind may help.

Or at the very least, you can listen to some binaural relaxation music to bring some peace into your mind. Check out my favourite relaxation music here.

If you are stressed and overwhelmed with family duties, career, business, financial or any other obligations, I hope some of my suggestion helps. If you think I have missed out any brilliant ways to get out of an overwhelming scenario, please let me know in the comment section below. 

Kenny Lee

I struggled with social anxiety for at least 15 years, without really knowing what I was going through. Eventually, I defeated my social phobia and conquered the fear of public speaking.

51 thoughts to “11 Things To Do When You Are Overwhelmed”

  1. Your points really helped me just now. Was feeling overwhelmed this morning. Not unusual, and your words and steps made me realize that it’s not just me failing, it’s just normal and I can work through this and find solutions and get help. Thank you.

    1. Hi Alan,

      We do get overwhelmed at times. I’m sure you will get through it. Situations are impermanence and problems only get smaller as we faced them head on.
      Thanks for reading.


  2. Hi Kenny, thanks for the great tips. I do get overwhelmed, and it seems to get worse as I get older (!) Maybe because my brain’s slowing down, I can’t seem to take as much as I used to be able to.

    Every single one of these 11 things seems to be important, it’s great to know. I think the most difficult part for me would be to “delegate” because it involves someone else…whereas all others I can “practice” myself. Asking someone else to do can be very difficult, depending on what it is, of course…
    Thanks again for the advice!

    1. Ray,

      I don’t really think it’s the brain slowing down. As we get older we have more responsibilities and each takes up different part of us.

      As for delegation, I understand why it feels hard for you. It involves trust. I think setting up a framework and goal will do. You can check up progress at stipulated time instead of doing everything by your own. Just my opinion.

      Thanks for reading.


  3. Beautiful. I really resonate with every point you brought out here and as a student-homeopath, this post is actually something that I would love to recommend my (future) clients to check out. I personally use most of all of these steps and honestly sometimes just stepping back from things for a bit clears things up. Bravo!

    1. Hi Ariel,

      I agree that you have to take a step back occasionally. It’s like pulling your head out of the water, so that you can see the ocean as a whole. Gives you clarity and focus.

      Thanks for reading.


  4. Thank you universe for giving me exactly what i needed. A smile. 🙂
    You included some really great suggestions and I needed to be reminded today… So thank you!

    I’m a big fan of meditation and find that no matter what is going on in my life, and all the excuses I can come up with… I just feel better when I do it! So it’s a priority for me.

    Also, have you heard of Yoga Nidra? It’s a yogic sleep and my go to stress-buster. I recommend Marc Halpern’s version. You can find it on Amazon. Thanks for your post!

    1. Hi Jackie.

      Thank you for reading. I’ve never heard of Yoga Nidra. I shall google on it. Meditation is an underused tool to fight stress in my opinion. I think more people need to learn meditation.


  5. It’s actually extremely easy to feel overwhelmed, I just realized as I was reading your post! As I look back on my life as a stay at home mum I can see myself not doing some of the things here and leading me to feel overwhelmed time and again. I was just thinking about making a clean house my priority when I stumbled upon this post. Thanks for reminding me to pray and to put my loved ones first!

    1. Hi Regina,

      Sometimes we got carried away. It doesn’t matter if we are a housewife, manager or a business owner. We just have to sort things one one at a time. Thanks for reading.


  6. Great article. I like how you mentioned how important family is. I’m finding in my own life I really need to set aside time for family and relationships and be flexible when it doesn’t fit into my artificial bounds. They really are so important. No one gets to the end of their life and wishes they worked more and spent less time with family. I also have found that praying is a great way to lower my anxiety. Giving my worries to God helps me to realize things may be bigger than me, but He’s still in control. Thanks for a great post!

  7. I have been dealing with anxiety and getting overwhelmed easily for years now. I have read many tips to combat this. Some work and some don’t.

    Every once in a while I check to see if there are any new ideas or tips out there.

    I really like your tip about focusing and not multi tasking. I am always trying to accomplish 10 things at once and that adds to my anxiety because in the end I haven’t really accomplished much of anything. I am going to really try to focus more on what is important and get those things done first.

    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Simone,

      We are just like the nature of our mind. Which is basically a lively ball of energy that bounces around. Takes some effort and practice to focus. I’m guilty of this too but working to be more focus. And let me tell you, it really take the stress level down. Because you actually make progress when you focus.


  8. My girlfriend has bad moments of anxiety sometimes. She gets upset, cusses up a storm, is angry at everyone, and sometimes can’t control her emotions. I should show this article. Maybe she can get a bit of insight as to how best to handle the various moment of anxiety. Great Read

  9. This is a very nice article. I have tried several things here such as staying calm, exercising, meditation, and they all really help me get over with my overwhelming time. I can’t do anything if I keep getting panic and overwhelmed. Thanks for sharing!

  10. You have just described my life! Often I feel overwhelmed-especially working, raising a toddler, and getting a business off the ground. Never feels like there is enough time.

    This was a very practical down to earth article on tips to manage overwhelm. One of the big things I really resonated with here is letting go of the feeling that I need to multi task. Lately I have just been putting a sticky note on my desk of the top three things I need to do in relation to my business and even if I don’t get them done by the end of the day, I will leave it up there until all of them are done. Only after all of them are complete I will write down what the next top three things will be.This has helped me feel a little calmer and balanced.

    Thanks for the reminders!

    1. Hi Liz,

      I have to say I too practice listing only 3 items to do each day. By finishing off the 3 things, you will feel more accomplished and take some of the stress away. It doesn’t mean you only do the 3 things though but those are like the big rocks you need to lift each day, if you get what i mean.


  11. This is very sound advice. I know all about being overwhelmed. I felt it year after year in university. I think the main skill I learned from university was how to manage the stress of feeling overwhelmed. Now I use the techniques mentioned in this article all the time. Thanks for putting it out there for others to learn from. Every university student should read this!

    1. HI Jason,

      It’s good to pick up stress management skill early on. Feel free to share along to your university mates.



  12. I had to chuckle your #1 thing to do on the list, stay calm. Sometimes when I am really stressed out, that just seems impossible to do lol. For me the best things to do is think of all the positives in my life, get busy doing something…anything to keep my mind off what is stressing me and then just to try and relax.

    1. Hi,

      The natural response is to panic, or to drown ourselves in countless task. That’s a form of denial to keep stress away. I used to do that previously but I found keeping calm is the better option.

      Thanks for reading.


  13. Kenny, until now I always wondered what is the reason behind smiling if you don’t feel like it at all… It is just a fake smile, what the use of it. But you are saying that by faking a smile positive emotions of the past are somehow triggered. How does it work? I would love to read an article on this. Here is the idea for the headline: “Fake smile creates real positive emotions” or something along these lines.


    1. Hi Margarita,

      Once, I thought people who smile when they don’t feeling so are hypocritical. But I’ve learned a lot since then.

      I did touch on this in one of my previous post When Life Gets Crazy, Do This One Thing but I guess this deserve a post by its own. I’ve had friend trying out and they too found it works.

      I’ll let you know when I have the post up. Thanks for the headline.


  14. Kenny, this is a great comprehensive list here. I love that you start it all off though with asking people to smile. Like you said, there is something about smiling (even a forced one) that helps us get into a positive mode.

    Using these steps as guidelines in your life are certainly a good thing. The one you mentioned last though I think is of the utmost importance. Meditating has a way of helping all of the other things fall in line with where they should be and helps you to organize your thoughts in your head in a constructive manner.

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment. You are right that many people don’t realise the true power of meditation and what it does for our mind. We may not realise when meditation has strengthen our mind, but we definitely will feel the difference if we stop meditating.


  15. Hey there Kenny, you have some great suggestions here for eliminating that overwhelmed feeling, that I’m sure we all get from time to time.
    I think the first thing you mentioned about smiling is a number one in my book. I find that if I start getting angry or upset because I’m getting behind on something I’ll try and smile. And when I do smile it somehow changes my overall look on things, putting me a much better mood.
    And as you stated once you have that smile on you have a much more positive outlook to tackle some of the practical things in our everyday lives.
    Great article,

    1. Hi Kim

      I’m going to start another post on how a forced smile could invoke real positive feeling. Can I quote your comment on that?

      Thanks for reading.


      1. You bet Kenny, you have my permission to quote me on that. I think that would be an awesome article for you to write. I look forward to reading it when your done.

  16. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this great information. I have to say that the two things here that really stood out for me are Delegate and Exercise.

    I often make excuses for why I don’t exercise as much as I should and often the excuse is that I’m too tired. The ironic thing is that when I actually exercise it gives me more energy throughout the day.

    Also delegating certain tasks can free up a lot of time and stress. If you can afford it there are a lot of good freelance websites that can take care of a lot of little things for you.

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Robert,

      I think you are not the only one who’s guilty of skipping exercise. I too would neglect my health once in a while. Not a good thing though as it decreases our physical and mental stamina.

      Do you have more freelance websites to recommend other than Fiverr/Upwork?


  17. Great post, even reading this helped calmed me down from being overwhelmed. I do have trouble keeping a positive mindset sometimes. What is your all time favorite inspirational quote?

    One of my favorites is “A silent worker allows success to be their noise”

    I definitely need to exercise as well, sometimes all I do is just try to power through work I forget all about exercising. Definitely will check out some of those routines.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      There are times when I go through a spell of work, work and work without time for exercise. It took a toll on my health.

      I don’t have any particular favourite but I do keep a list of them at my Pinterest Board here. My Positive Quotes Board. Feel free to check it out.


  18. Hi Kenny

    These are fantastic ways to relieve overwhelming situations. You know, life has an uncanny way of surprising us with unwanted events in our lives. Sometimes we need to just take a break and analyze the circumstances for what they really are – impermanent!

    I personally love excercise followed by meditation when things are getting overwhelming. I’ve bookmarked your site for future referencing. Excellent reading!

    Kind Regards


    1. Hi Michelle,

      Exercising followed my meditation is gives a boost to our body and our brain. It’s a perfect combination. That’s why yoga is very popular.

      There is a saying that “The only constant is change”. Whatever that overwhelmed us, shall pass eventually.

      Thanks for reading.


  19. Absolutely incredible post.

    Every single “thing” you have listed in this post is a gem if you put it into practice!

    Meditating, creating a gratitude list, keeping calm, exercising, being positive are just some of the things I do to stop overwhelm.

    Do one thing at a time and focus on one thing at a time << I think that is a Zen saying.

    I just love websites like this because we are pretty much in the same field =)

    Have a good day!

  20. Hi Kenny

    More than ever we need balance in our lives. We have become so much materialistic in our life that we forgot that we can live simple lives. Your post is a very good reminder. All the points your mention are important and if we use it daily we will have a far better outlook on the world both mentally and emotionally. Keep putting that word out there. The world needs word of encouragement
    Great post

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment. The most precious treasures in our life are often made of simple little moments that has nothing to do with money.


  21. Hi Kenny,
    Thank you for such an useful post.
    I really feel overwhelm sometimes with kids and work, and the house…
    Your suggestions are great. I really need this kind of mind exercises to relax myself.
    I’m going to try this stuff and I will get back to you!
    Thank you

  22. I loved the cartoon of the king painting a yellow line.

    If I don’t feel overwhelmed at least once a day, I don’t feel like I’m getting anything done. Your 11 things to do when feeling overwhelmed are very helpful.

    The trick is to remember to look at the list. Since I work at home, I usually lie down on my bed when I’m overwhelmed. After I’ve rested and regained some composure, I’ll remember to how to manage the situation.

    Guided meditation also helps.

    Do you think it’s okay to just ignore some of the stuff that needs to get done?

    1. Hi Gary,

      Seems like you love your work really well. I don’t think you should ignore things especially those important ones. You can postpone, delegate or work it out some other way. Ignoring is like escaping from problems. Not a good solution in my opinion.

      Thanks for reading.


  23. Excellent article on 11 things to do when you are overwhelmed.
    Becoming overwhelmed is unfortunately becoming more of an issue these days with our busy lifestyle, and you have given people some very good practical advice advice here, such as exercising, which I find very useful.
    Also methods such as practicing gratitude and meditation, really has enormous benefits in the long run, and are strategies that I find very helpful!
    Great job, this will help many people with the feeling of overwhelm! 🙂

    1. Hi John,

      I’m glad you like what you read. Indeed we have more to do and our responsibilities get heavier. It’s good to meditate to get some peace amidst the chaos.


  24. Hello here, thanks for tips how to stay in a good shape and not to lose sanity.
    Nowadays I read that there thousands of people who use depressants. I wonder why? Of course people had problems at any age but stay constantly on medication is not the answer.
    You article is a great source to find answers regarding relaxation and escaping from the vicious cycle of daily routine.
    For me meditation and exercise are great helpers. It is enough to meditate just five minutes at least, but daily. When it becomes a habit, individuals see benefits such as calm and clear mind, ability to focus and find ways how to solve problems.
    All the best, be healthy and wealthy, Nemira.

    1. Hi Nemira,

      I’m always against medication. Most of them only suppressed at symptom level. And you get addicted to them. Training and building our own mind is better for the long run.

      Thanks for reading.


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