How to Overcome: Feeling Overwhelmed

The month of December is always a stressful time, especially for me. It’s something about those last 31 days of the year that create a false deadline in our minds. Whether you’re getting ready to host a holiday party or you’re spending time away from your routine, the end of the year can cause so much anxiety! It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed during this time of year. Even more so, it’s harder not to get caught up in the stressful moments when everything around you seems to be extra volatile right now. But here’s the thing - you don’t have to let it get to you! I know, I know. Easier said than done, right? Well, no! These few tips and tricks have helped me prevent the looming feeling of being overwhelmed!

“Only do what you can do.”

Give yourself some grace. I wrote a post about this recently (see: “On Giving Yourself Grace”) and it has never struck me more true than recently. Even more so, during this trying end-of-year time, it’s important to give yourself permission to take a step back. No one can do it all. Let me say it again for those in the back. No one can do it all. Even though you might want to, sometimes we are simply limited by the hours in the day. And that is okay! This feeling of falling behind—of not being able to get everything done— leads up to feeling overwhelmed and unhappy.

Related: On Giving Yourself Grace

Why do we allow ourselves to feel this way? What is it about the end of the year that causes this amped anxiety? Focus on what you can do. Yes, there might be a lot of things that get left by the wayside. Yes, there might be things that you can’t do. But, if you’re willing to give yourself some grace during this trying time, you’ll find that you might be able to self-soothe your own anxiety.

Focus on the task at hand

Let go of the multi-tasking mindset. Make a list and focus on one thing at a time. This constant multi-tasking forces us into thinking that everything has to be done at once. And, if you’re unable to complete it in a timely fashion, that you are somehow inferior. Cut the negative mindset. Start by creating an orderly list. Organize the items from the most important to least important. If there’s a time component, start with what needs to be completed first. Don’t focus on how much is on your list, focus on how you can attack each single component. This allows you to channel your energy into productivity without being cluttered.

Change your negative thought patterns

This brings me to my next point. Cut the negative self-talk. Honestly, what does it do for you? If you just created a list like I suggested above, take a second to look at it. Instead of thinking, “I have so much to do,” change that mindset into “I can accomplish this.” Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the idea of so many to-do items, congratulate yourself on accomplishing each small task as you finish. Not only will you feel better about each item that you check off, being successful at itemizing your list will lead to less feelings of being overwhelmed.

Take time to think

This might seem counterintuitive, but taking a moment to gather your thoughts will help you destress. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to yourself. You could use this time to make a list, listen to a podcast, or even do yoga to help clear your mind. Even better - take those 10-15 minutes in the morning. Instead of grabbing your phone and immediately checking your email or the news, grab a journal instead. Take a few minutes to wake up for you, focusing on whatever is on your mind. I’m a big fan of gratitude journaling - taking time to think of the things each day that make me thankful helps to alleviate stress and calms me down.

Related: How A Gratitude Journal Made a Huge Change In My Life 


Just say no

Stop it. Stop it right now. One of the biggest things that we can do to prevent feeling overwhelmed is simply saying “no.” Ask yourself honestly - do you have the time to take on this additional task? Do you want to take on this task? If you did, would it be rewarding? Taxing? Exhausting? If you can’t conjure up a positive reason to do something, likely it’s an excellent opportunity to say “no.”

Related: Learning How to Say “No” - 5 Simple Ways to Saying What You Really Mean

What helps you alleviate that feeling of being overwhelmed?