I could ask, “have you ever felt overwhelmed,” but that’s pretty ridiculous. A more accurate question would be “when was the last time you felt overwhelmed” because everybody has that feeling multiple times.

Dictionary.com defines overwhelmed this way: 1) to overcome completely in mind or feeling: 2) to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush: 3) to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge: 4) to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything

In a recent post, I cracked the joke “everyone says they are overwhelmed. I want to see someone speak up when they are whelmed.” That’s one of the ways I combat the feeling. I’ve assembled a list of some mental and physical steps to take when that “overwhelmed” sensation is starting to take over.


Laugh – Laughter really is a universal language. Get on any social media platform and you will quickly cross paths with a video of someone doing something crazy. These happen everywhere, in all kinds of countries with people speaking all kinds of languages. Notice that no matter what language is spoken, when the crowd starts laughing, they sound exactly like the people who speak your language sound when laughing. When life is piling stuff on your head and you think the entire solar system is going to explode, find something to laugh at or about. On Twitter, I follow the accounts Hold My Beer and Dumb Drunk People. They are every bit as ridiculous as they sound. I may search those phrases on YouTube every now and then. I can also fire up my Amazon Music app and listen to one of about 50 comedy albums I have in the My Music file. When all else fails, I can ask my wife a stupid question and wait for the reaction – it’s almost guaranteed to have me actually Rolling On The Floor Laughing (ROTFL). If you can find something to make you laugh, that will bring the stress level down quite a bit.

Move – You can hit the gym, go for a swim, take a walk around the block, anything that gets you moving. It could be for an hour or as little as 10 minutes. With my arthritic knees, it’s going to be closer to 10 minutes than 60 most of the time. But it still helps. When I have to go out to run errands, I put on the ol’ headphones and fire up one of about a dozen podcasts I subscribe to. Some are fun, some about business, some about faith. They all accomplish the goal of getting my mind off whatever is stressing me out.

Volunteer – First, let me clarify something. If someone you know tells you they are in a state of misery, the absolute WORST thing you can possibly say is. “Well, (insert person or group here) has it much worse and would gladly trade places with you.” That does not help. While saying a homeless person would gladly trade places with a project manager that is facing an impossible deadline is factually accurate, it does nothing for the latter. It just tells that person that they are wrong for feeling overwhelmed. If you’re going to go that route, try saying, “I’m sorry things are tough. Why don’t we go volunteer at the homeless shelter this weekend for a few hours?” It’s not just a Bible verse to say it’s better to give than receive. Giving of yourself will greatly enhance your emotional well-being. Wherever you live, there are probably dozens (if not hundreds) of causes that are short on manpower. Spend just a few hours helping them out and you will feel better – acts of service can be very therapeutic. 

Drink – Hey, why was your first thought about alcohol, you bunch of demons? 🙂 I was talking about water. Or something similar. Plain water bores the crap out of me, so I always have a couple of pitchers of Crystal Light (OK, Great Value, the Walmart version of Crystal Light) in the refrigerator. Only 5 calories a glass and some flavor.


Pray – Something we all need to do more. And don’t just pray about your current struggle. Remember the other people in your life who are facing major struggles (disease, their own emotional situations, etc.) and pray for them. You don’t do the prayer thing? Then meditate – just about everyone, even non-religious folks, make some attempt to connect to some higher power. Whichever one you wish to connect with, spend a few minutes connecting.

Encourage – by this I mean encourage yourself. Be kind to yourself. I tell people I have pretty thick skin, that I don’t worry about whether or not everyone likes me, and that I can handle criticism. Why is that? Because there is nothing in this universe you can say to criticize me that I haven’t already said to myself. There’s not a dirty word you can call me that I haven’t already called myself. That’s my default reaction when something goes awry – to verbally and emotionally beat the crap out of myself. While it does give you the tough exterior to handle any outside criticism, it is destructive to your emotional well-being. No matter how bad things are now, you haven’t done everything in your life poorly. Think on some successes. Read some Bible or inspirational quotes. Encourage yourself.

Delegate – You don’t have to do it all. Enlist some help. “Dude, I’m not a manager, so I can’t delegate.” Yes you can. You can ask friends, family or colleagues to help with some small things so that your list is shorter. A shorter list will immediately make you feel more at ease. And of course, if you’re an entrepreneur, you can use a Virtual Assistant to help you shorten that to-do list. (You can Contact Us to see how we can help you do that.)

I could probably go on for hours on this topic. Whether it’s these 7 or any other way you can think of, it is possible to get out of that state of feeling overwhelmed. It will feel wonderful just getting down to feeling whelmed. 🙂