How I Overcame Being Overwhelmed

Overwhelm. To submerge. To overpower

When I was a little girl I was scared of having too many blankets in my bed. What if they swallowed me up and I couldn’t get out? We all know what it feels like to be swamped. We have all had a time where you can’t see the light of day. 

We all have a fear of being trapped. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally imprisoned. Have you ever thought about why this is the case? We like our freedom. We need our freedom to fully be ourselves. If you met someone for the first time while they were stuck in quicksand, I guarantee they aren’t quite acting themselves. 

This is the same in various areas of life. Depression, an abusive relationship, spiritual or mental fog and so much more. Whether it’s physical or not, being trapped is never something you want. The unknown is not a very comfortable place. We sometimes return to being trapped out of the need to be somewhere we know. We aren’t truly ourselves but we are willing to give up our freedom to be “safe”.

This is why being overwhelmed is a larger problem than people let on. 

An overwhelmed human is rarely productive. I have often allowed myself to be overwhelmed. When the path ahead is foggy, it’s easier to curl up in a ball and think about how trapped you feel. It’s harder to actually take the steps into the fog. 

The state of being overwhelmed is not a desirable state. We all wish to work toward a goal. We desire to be unstuck.

How do you overcome being overwhelmed? Here are the steps I have learned to take whenever I am overwhelmed:

Ask yourself why

I’ve gone to an intense Vacation Bible School type of teacher training called Christian Youth In Action. When you are there, you have a lot on your plate. People want to help you in every way they can but a lot is on your shoulders. I remember ending a study session one afternoon and staying longer while the rest of my team left for break. I attempted to study further but ended up bursting into tears. 

The only way I can explain my state of being overwhelmed is fog. You can’t get yourself to do anything productive. You can only think of all that you need to do. You break down at the fact that you are incapable of completing any of it. 

I could barely focus for the rest of the day. I got nothing done. I was just floating around and just wanted the day to end. I was hoping that the next day would be better. Looking back, I see a problem with how I dealt with being overwhelmed. I just beat myself up for being overwhelmed. I attempted to ignore the fact that I was overwhelmed. 

I never asked why I was overwhelmed. A crucial part of solving a problem is identifying the problem. If I had asked why, I would have found out that my confusion over how to best memorize was the reason for my fog. It wasn’t the amount of work or pressure. Understanding why you are overwhelmed is a key to overcoming it. 

Once you figure out exactly what is causing you to feel overwhelmed, then you can work towards defeating it. Tackle the source rather than the symptoms. 

How can you overcome it?

You’ve figured out what is stressing you out. Now what? How have I learned to overcome this obstacle? It took being the most overwhelmed I have ever been with a pinch of the drive to push through it. 

In January of 2021, I started this program called Praxis. It’s a rigorous career development program that I’m going through. They do an incredible job at walking you through the steps and breaking down how to get things done. 

Nonetheless, I still manage to get overwhelmed. 

My go-getter mindset has been determined to figure out how to deal with the fog. After a particularly slow day (due to me procrastinating and allowing myself to be easily distracted), I wondered why I was procrastinating. I was overwhelmed. This is when I figured it out. After dealing with it for so long, I have finally found out how to strategically destroy the feeling of being stuck. 

  1. After identifying the things that are overwhelming you, you need to lay them out for yourself. Write them down on a list. Give yourself an outlet so the task isn’t just bouncing around in your head.
  2. Write down the steps you need to take to complete that task. A task is intimidating you but what about it? Is it the part you don’t quite understand? The step with the most risk?
  3. Trust yourself and go for it. Give yourself a deadline or someone to keep you accountable.

Now, I may need to further explain that last point. Going back to my fog example, the unknown is what keeps us from moving forward. Except, it’s not the only thing. 

We keep ourselves from moving forward. We allow ourselves to be scared and intimidated by the unknown because we don’t trust ourselves. We don’t trust ourselves to take on the hard things. We want the fruit but we don’t want to put in the work to nourish the tree it grows on.

That’s what I have finally realized and wish to share with you. I know that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I am the only one who can limit myself. I’m the only one who can allow myself to be stuck. I’m the only one who can get myself to take the steps. Other people can push me in one direction or the other but I am the only one who can choose which path I’ll take. 

Robert Tew once said, “If you are going to trust one person, let it be yourself.”

Trust yourself to get the project done. Trust that you have what it takes to go into the unknown. You know that afterward, it would have all been worth it. Even if you fail at your current project, the job you want to apply for, or that interview you are scared to death of, remember that it will still be worth it. You will never regret trusting yourself to overcome being overwhelmed.

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