overwhelmed woman sitting at table

Overcome Overwhelm in the Midst of Hard Times

Is there something in the day, week or month ahead that’s causing a feeling of dread or overwhelm? What are you thinking about? Are you focused on what you know to be true, the facts and what part you have to play? Or are you just plain feeling overpowered and helpless?

If we aren’t careful our thoughts can trail off into a negative, fearful direction very quickly.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

In this post, we will discuss how to overcome overwhelm in the difficult times of your life.

Where Does Overwhelm Originate?

Where does overwhelm come from?

Feelings of overwhelm come when we evaluate something as too challenging to manage and overcome. It can make us feel like we are drowning and have no life preserver to reach for.

Feeling overwhelmed or burdened usually comes from focusing on what is outside your ability to control. It means you are carrying burdens or worries that produce feelings of helplessness. Sometimes it comes down to how we are thinking about it that creates a sense of “it’s too big or too hard”. Procrastination and avoidance follows. Those feelings create anxiety and irritation.

Unmanaged stress does awful things to our brains and bodies. In fact, it’s been shown to literally shrink our brains especially in the areas responsible for learning, memory, regulating your emotions, decision-making, concentration, judgment and social interaction.

Physically, stress can cause high blood pressure, heart issues, poor sleep, digestive difficulties and much more. Stress must be taken seriously.

Steps to Overcome Overwhelm in the Midst of Hard Times

How can you tackle overwhelm, especially in the middle of life’s difficult times?

Here’s the good news: to overcome overwhelm does not mean we have to have it all figured out. All we have is today. We don’t have to figure everything out at once. Start where you are by taking a baby step forward.

The path through overwhelm is one task, one breath, one prayer, one day at a time. Believe you will have what you need when you need it. To overcome overwhelm is not having it all together. Instead,

  1. Breathe. Anxious and worrisome thoughts trigger your physical fight and flight system releasing stress chemicals that make it difficult to think clearly. Taking slow, deep breaths enable you to calm down your nervous system so you can better access the thinking part of your brain.
  2. Do a brain dump. Write down everything on your mind. Get it on paper so you can “see” things more clearly.
  3. Break the big things down into manageable parts. What is one baby step you can take?
  4. Ask yourself: “what is one thing I can do in this moment that will bring in a bit of peace and calm?”
  5. If you need to overcome overwhelm that is connected to the future, bring yourself back to the present, release your fear of the future into God’s hands. Say out loud, “I don’t know the future but You do and you’re already there. Guide me now and help me when I get there. I trust You are my Helper and will give me what I need when I need it.”
  6. Sometimes the pressure builds up inside and the “dam breaks.” It’s okay to cry. Let those tears flow. Even though it feels like you’ll never stop crying, you will. Peace follows.
  7. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Accept what is and know that, like every overwhelming moment you’ve overcome in the past, “this, too, shall pass.”
  8. You are more capable and resourceful than you may be giving yourself credit for. Ask yourself: “what or who do I know that can help me manage this situation?” Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help. It’s ok and healthy to lean on others in challenging times.

God is faithful. He is supplying, providing, guiding, equipping, empowering, holding, comforting and loving you every single step of the way. He is helping you overcome overwhelm! Learn more about God’s peace in this blog post.

So take a few deep breaths, and focus on your next step. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back on all you accomplished.

Let me ask you this question: Do you need some help? If you’re walking through hard times and need some support and encouragement, please click here to schedule a complimentary call with me. We’ll talk through your unique situation and see if one-on-one coaching is the help you need most right now. Are you ready to reach out and accept the help offered here?

January 13, 2023


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By Dr. Richelle Hoekstra-Anderson & Tom Ziglar