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What to Do When It All Feels Too Much

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Sometimes, things just feel too overwhelming. We pile things on top of our busy schedules, rarely stopping to notice the mountain of things adding up. And regardless of how well we think we’re coping, we sometimes just need a breather from it all. And a moment to acknowledge the pressure that was building up.

If you feel overwhelmed lately with all the tasks you need to do, here are some tips to let you feel calmer and more in control:

Understand the root cause of your stressors

It’s common for our brains to operate at 100 miles per hour without really stopping to acknowledge our growing commands or to-do list. But if you’re suddenly starting to feel like it’s all too much to handle, note down all the things that are on your to-list.

Once you’ve made a list, begin to tune into your thoughts and acknowledge what about them is causing you to feel overwhelmed.

Categorise your complaints

We simply can’t control the outcome of everything in our lives. But we usually torment ourselves by making these things an important part of our lists.

After you write down your ever-growing list and the thoughts you have about the things on there, start to categorise them. Life is so much simpler when we acknowledge it’s pointless worrying about the things we have no control over.

Order your list into:

  • Things you have total control over
  • Things you have partial control over
  • Things you have zero control over

For the things you can completely or partially control, note down some productive actions you can take to reduce the overwhelm. And for the things on your list that you have zero control over, allow yourself to trust that there’s nothing you can do but let go of them and accept them for what they are.

Change your narrative

Writing down our stressors and deciding the actions we can and will take, allows us to realistically organise the things that we have no control over against the ones we do. When we realise something is out of our control, we understand that it’s usually only the thoughts and stories we make up in our heads that lead to our unhappiness, stress and overwhelm.

Tune into the stories you are telling yourself and decide whether or not you want to live by them. What you make of your situation affects the experience you’ll have.

Stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself

Telling ourselves we ‘should’ be doing something dangerously implies that we’re behaving wrong in some way, or could be doing more than we are. And as a result, it increases the disappointment we feel when we aren’t doing that.

Reduce unnecessary stress by changing your inner self-talk to something more empowering. Swap out the ‘shoulds’ to ‘musts’ instead and notice how instantly calmer and controlled you feel.

Remember your feelings are temporary

As soon as we feel our situation is permanent, we tend to feel more overwhelmed. Our inner stories include ‘I can’t cope with this forever’ or ‘How could I possibly have the strength to battle through this every day?’ But we tend to only have these thoughts at our worst.

Instead, note down whether there are certain triggers or situations that make you feel worse. Tuning into these will allow you to remember everything is temporary and there are some things you can control.


Anxiety will push you from behind and then hide in the shadows. By strengthening the brain to filter out distractions and by being more in control of feelings, you can make decisions that will be more enriching for you. 
A lot of our worries stem from our thoughts and beliefs about the situation. But when we start to tune into and organise these, we allow ourselves to feel more in control of our situations, and less overwhelmed. 

Sammy Taylor is the founder of Beauty in the Brain, who launched it in 2019 while preparing for brain surgery.

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