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5 Tried & True Steps for Overcoming Overwhelm

Some days I wake up and I could swear Eye of the Tiger is playing in the background. I go on my morning walk, get my coffee, throw my hair in a messy bun and get stuff DONE. I tackle my inbox like a BOSS, edit two shoots for the blog, film a webinar, and even take time to dream BIG for what’s next. On those days, nothing can shake me. “Rising up, straight to the top. Had the guts, got the glory.”

And then there are the other days.

Ohhhh you know those other days. Those days where you wake up and immediately want to just stay in bed. Those days where even the smallest steps forward seem like too daunting of a task- too much of a demand on your already empty tank- so you just sit on the couch and binge watch Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the reboot this November. And think how much simpler life would be in Stars Hollow.

Owning your own business is no joke y’all.

You guys know that. We all have millions of things fighting for our attention. A to do list that grows at an alarming rate, almost Gremlin-esque in its ability to multiply. Whatever you do, just please don’t feed it after midnight. And a whole host of requests and demands on our time and attention that need to be done, like, yesterday. It’s a LOT. And on those days when I’ve pushed too hard for too long and the to do list gets out of control, I find myself at the bottom of the tank.. and I land with a thud.

There are a lot of different names for the thud. You can call it overwhelmed, burnt out, in need of a time out, or my personal favorite, “Stress Paralyzed” (Mom’s Night Out anybody?) But they really all boil down to one thing: you have WAY too much to do, NO idea where to start, you feel DEFEATED before you even begin, and so you waste another precious day falling further behind when you could be getting caught up.

I’ve been there, believe me I have. And over time, I have come up with a 5 Step Tried & True Process for Overcoming Overwhelm, Shaking off the Funk, and Getting Back to the Hard Work Still to be Done!  Here it is:


1. Do Something Fun. The number one trigger for me for days like this is just feeling like my tank is empty and I never have time to be a regular human anymore. So the first thing I have to do before I can even think about shaking off that funk is to do something for me that’s fun without rushing. I take a walk, listen to some music, sip some coffee, have a dance party in my living room. Whatever it is, it should be something that’s FUN and doesn’t ask a lot of me.

2. Now that I’m in a slightly better mood…do just one thing. It’s amazing how strong of a hold that overwhelmed feeling can have. It can literally gobble up entire days (and entire seasons on Netflix) if you let it. But just like it only takes one match to make an explosion, I have also found that it only takes the tiniest of accomplishments to start dismantling the stress bomb from the inside out. This is kind of like Dave Ramsey’s “snow ball” approach, but for your to do list. One little win energizes you to tackle the next thing and that rolls into the next thing and so on.

3. Make a list of everything you need to do. Note that this step is listed AFTER the accomplish one little thing step. That’s because I know from experience that listing everything out while you’re still feeling defeated….will just make you feel MORE defeated. Accomplish something first. Ride that high. Then let’s sit down and deal with everything else that has to happen. Write it all out. Look at it from a bird’s eye view. Now ask yourself three questions: 1) What are the things that you normally do but don’t actually have to happen? Things that you can take off the list while you’re getting caught up (kind of like “low battery mode” on your phone…just power the essentials for right now), 2) What can you ask somebody else to help you with? A friend, a freelancer, an outsourcing company. Who can help take things off your plate? 3) Now start to prioritize. What are the things that need to be done first?

4. Get One Thing to Zero. There is an amazing clarity & energizing feeling that comes from creating order in one area of your life. It tends to spill over in to the next thing and the next. So pick one of your “umbrellas”…maybe it’s your inbox…and work on that until it’s totally done. The inbox is a constant source of overwhelm, but what would happen if you took this afternoon and got it all the way to zero? Two things: 1) First, it is SO much easier to keep an inbox at zero once you start at zero, so that will be one less overwhelming area of your life and 2) That success will give you the energy and the win to tackle another area….maybe your blogging or social media scheduling.

5. Give Yourself Grace. Some days you try all these tricks and you still just aren’t feeling it. On those days, give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can. And… You are doing just FINE. On those days, that “stress paralyzed” feeling is probably just your body’s way of saying, “Hey lady, I need some rest. Take a day off why don’t you.” And on those days, that’s exactly what I do. I eat the ice cream and watch the Gilmore Girls and go on walks, and cuddle two very fluffy golden retrievers and I kiss my husband. And I don’t feel bad about it.

Because the truth is we are all just human. And tomorrow is another day.

Go rock it out (even if all you’re rocking is a nap!) You’ve got this!

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