How to cope with feeling overwhelmed

How to cope with feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. If you are feeling this way right now, know that you are not alone. I have been there many times during the course of my career. Each time it can feel incredibly painful, but there are steps you can take to move out of that feeling, and make progress at the same time.

I recorded a podcast to talk about strategies that you can take right now to help with this feeling, and there is a worksheet for you to use to accompany the podcast, that you can get below.

You can listen to it here:

Steps you can take

First of all know that most people will feel this way at some point in their career or business venture. If overwhelm is allowed to spiral it can lead to burn out, stress, sickness and even choosing to walk away from everything you are trying to build. I don’t want this to happen to you.

  1. Acknowledge that you are feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Ask for help with the projects you have on your list, if appropriate.
  3. Have someone you can talk to about it- even if they are part of an online group, and you aren’t meeting in person.
  4. Look at the list of priorities you have to finish by the end of the week. (Ones with real deadlines, not ones that you would like to achieve). Are there some that you can delegate to someone else?
  5. What can you take off your to-do-list today?

Clearing some space from your to-do-list will give you a moment to breathe. We aren’t talking about ditching everything that you are working on, we are talking about looking at what the priorities are right now, and what are the things you would like to achieve, but aren’t able to at the moment.

Goal setting with overwhelm

It is easy to want to get everything finished on your list, or aiming for huge goals in the future. But the problem with overwhelm is that it can stop you in your tracks and stop you from achieving anything. You find yourself overthinking, or misjudging how long things will take to complete. Then fear creeps in and you find yourself unable to ask for help.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Part of the feeling stems from having too much to do, or a fear of not achieving your goals. I’ve been there. I get stuck in the research phase, and then are too overwhelmed to take action.

  1. Start by thinking about the goal you want to achieve.
  2. Have you given yourself enough time to achieve it in? We over estimate how much can be done in a day or week, but under estimate how much we can get done in a month.
  3. Break the goal down into manageable tasks that can be worked on every day.
  4. Grouping tasks into topics like marketing, emails, making, social media etc, will allow you to designate a day or half a day to each topic. Jumping from topic to topic wastes time, and it is hard to focus. I talk more about this in my book The Business Of Creativity.

The final piece

Look at what you can do right now. You might be like me, and overthinking it. You might be listing a million reasons why you can’t take the next step- “It might not be the right step”, “It isn’t the next thing to do on my to-do-list”, “I need X before I can take the next step”…Any of these sound familiar?

If we are really honest with ourselves, we can see that many of the blocks are actually coming from us. Yes, they might be rooted in fear, or your 3D printer has broken and you need it to prototype. But sometimes a lack of resources can make us more creative. Maybe you need to draw or go back to paper and straw prototyping- it might show you something surprising.

Or maybe there is a person that you would love to connect with the help your project/profile, but you don’t know how to reach them. Your next step could be sending an email to your closest circle to see if anyone has a connection to them. They call it 6 degrees of separation, so by asking 6 people, one of them should know that person or a person close to them. Microsoft did a test to prove that this was correct. You can read it here.

Next steps don’t have to be massive, they only have to give you some traction to move forwards. Overwhelm can freeze us to the spot, but we do have the power to push through and start to move again.

I’d love to hear from you. If you are feeling this way, mentoring might help you work through the blocks. You can find out more here: Mentoring


These other articles might help you come up with solutions to take your next step. 

How to successfully pivot your idea

How to hire freelancers to help your business grow

Value your creativity

Get some support, tell people that you are feeling overwhelm, ask for help. It might feel scary in the moment, but people usually want to support you. And if you need more support you can join the Creative Women International group online.

If you’ve enjoyed this free content and workbook, I’d love to raise my coffee cup to you.

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