6 tips for reducing a feeling of Overwhelm

Overwhelm, Brain Fog or emotional clutter – call it what you will – we will all encounter a moment in time when we realize we are utterly full!  We find ourselves unable to concentrate on one more thing or cope with one more pressure.

Just like our closets and cupboards, stuff collects and can start to affect our overall mood and sense of well-being.

In my house, I am the counter top girl.  I need to have my counter tops free and clear as a working space and find that when family members engage in pile management on my counter tops, it makes me edgy.   If the counters are covered, I simply find I cannot tackle higher priority projects until that space is clear and pristine.

We all have stuff that bugs us.   One friend of mine believes that everyone who wishes to install a dishwasher should have to take her loading course first.  Another is irritated and distracted by drivers who fail to signal their intent.   Still another gets annoyed by people who run outside in their sock feet and track all that debris throughout the entire house.   I worked with a man once who needed every item on his deck in precise locations – you get the idea.  These are all examples of mental clutter – causing us to feel overwhelmed.

When we’re caught up in our heads, we’re not able to be in the moment, present or clear-headed. And when we’re not clear-headed, we lose the connection to ourselves, our environment, and our lives.  This can put us all at needless risk.  When we are not paying attention, we can get hurt – physically and emotionally.  (And yes, forget to signal our intent).

Just think about all those moments when you have tripped over a cracked sidewalk or a parking block or bounced your hip off a non moving object.  Bruises are a fact of life for those of us with too much going on in our heads to be alert.  And sometimes those bruises lead to bruised egos and huge misunderstandings.

Mental clutter pulls us off center, disrupting our balance.  Intentional de-cluttering can help to re stabilize us and shift where we place our attention.

Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Make time for Gratitude.

It is easy to get caught up in worrisome thoughts.  Fretting about incoming expenses or relationships that can seem rich with conflicts.  However, gratitude is a habit that can help combat those pesky mental wanderings.  It is an activity that deliberately focuses on appreciating what you have – big or small. It’s about developing a habit of positive focus.  Take time every day to consider your blessings and it will help bring balance to your life.   Spend five minutes at the end or beginning of every day to note at least five things you’re grateful for. Some ideas: time with a friend, your seat belt, your breath, the colors in the park, and even the nourishing beauty of a humid summer day.



Laughter has been proven to be the best medicine for relieving stress. It eases defensiveness, lightens your emotional load, and lifts stress off your shoulders. It brings balance to your psyche because laughter is presence.  Practice not taking yourself so seriously and laugh more often. Really laugh. A deep, hearty, belly laugh. Watch comedies, hang out with funny friends, go to a comedy club, read funny jokes, or play with your kids or your dog. With so many options, stress doesn’t stand a chance.

Zone Out

Let your mind shut off from having to process, apply, or interpret information. This means no TV, no conversation, and no problem solving.  Take a break from the chores, from the duties of the day. Let the breath come and go naturally, and the eyes roam wherever they want.  Look at the trees sway, the clouds float, the stars shimmer. Afterward, when it comes time to work, you’ll find focus more easily than before your mini-retreat.


Move. Sweat. Stretch. Get active and get your endorphins going! Exercise helps control your weight, prevent illness, boost energy, and improve your mood. It helps you sleep better, feel better, and focus better.  Find an activity that inspires you to raise your heart rate—dance, yoga, martial arts, running, walking, whatever.

Express Kindness.

The late Zig Ziglar said, “You’ll get everything you want if you help others get what they want.” Whatever we feel is lacking in a situation is something we’re not giving. And anytime we feel lack or longing, we’re out of balance.

Sounds counter intuitive, but if you want to see more of something in your life, start giving that thing away—be it love, money, or attention.  Make it a point every day to be kind with your actions, your words, and especially your thoughts.  Assume good intent in others behaviours.

If you don’t feel genuinely moved to lend a helping hand or pass along a compliment, simply smile instead. That act alone is enough to improve your mood and clear the mental blockage between you and compassion

Let go.

Since when does worrying get you anywhere? Release those useless, negative thoughts of worry. When we do this regularly, we drastically reduce the amount of “stuff” that needs our attention and depletes our energy.

Drawers and cabinets are not the only areas that need tidying. Our minds are full of thoughts in the form of judgments, expectations, and fears that blind us from the truth. Try monitoring your mind and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. You’ll soon notice a change in your entire outlook on life.

“Life is as simple or complicated as we make it.”

Life’s full of surprises. We all have the power to control how we respond to them, and the best way to strike a balance is to roll with the punches and go with the flow. Life’s unpredictable course is our opportunity to meet surprises with acceptance and grace.

It helps to practice having an open mind.