Feeling Overwhelmed: How To Navigate Overwhelming Feelings

Medically reviewed by April Brewer , DBH, LPC
Updated November 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Many may experience overwhelm at times—especially in seasons where we are already compromised or otherwise exhausted. 

If this resonates with you, we want to take a moment and encourage you with the thought that t can be possible to live a full and vibrant life, even if you’re experiencing overwhelm right now. This can be especially true with the regular practice of supportive strategies (such as lifestyle changes or online therapy).

Below, we’re exploring the many different appearances that overwhelm can take on, along with useful tips to help you cope with the feeling while minimizing stress. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Experiencing Overwhelm?

What Is Overwhelm? 

Taking the time to recognize that you’re experiencing stress and feeling overwhelmed can help you address these feelings directly.

Overwhelm can present in many different ways across many different people. Many may find that it’s the feeling of having too much to do, and not enough mental energy to do it. So, if you feel like you are failing, devoid of mental energy or are experiencing uncertainty around how to best move forward, you may be experiencing overwhelm.

Understand Why You Feel This Way

There are many reasons why a person may be feeling overwhelmed. Some of the most common for many can include: 

  • Work-related stress

  • Family-related strain 

  • General dissatisfaction 

  • Difficulties related to one’s emotional and physical health 

No matter what the root cause of your overwhelm may be, there are available supportive strategies that can offer some degree of relief. We’ve listed a few below for your consideration: 

1. Defining Your Priorities

When you feel overwhelmed, it can be helpful to take a break and take inventory of any outstanding bodily or emotional needs. You can also use this time to define your current priorities, possibly offering you a more attainable path forward, even in the midst of task saturation. 

2. Managing Your Energy


Many people are willing to work longer hours by sacrificing an hour of sleep—however, if you feel overwhelmed, that may not be helpful. Feeling constantly overwhelmed can affect concentration. When you get enough sleep, however, whatever you are able to do can generally be done to a higher degree of quality and mastery—and you’ll be better able to combat overwhelmed feelings.

3. Maintaining Your Hobbies and Developing New Ones

Overwhelm can be caused by moving from one demand to another without stopping for a breath. Making time for activities that are just for fun and relaxation can be an important a part of a healthy lifestyle, and can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

4. Appreciating Your Unconditional Worth

If you feel overwhelmed, it can be helpful to take time to recognize your intrinsic, inherent value that you bring to the table. If you are performance oriented, you may believe your worth is tied to how much you accomplish and how well you achieve it, for example. This perspective can be unhealthy and inaccurate, and can leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

5. Engaging Your Senses

If you begin to feel overwhelmed, it can be helpful to take a step back, ground yourself in your environment and see what your senses have to say. Not only can using your senses combat the feeling of being overwhelmed, but doing this can also reduce pain and inflammation according to recent research.

6. Making a To-Do List

Some can feel overwhelmed in instances where the mind is “bogged down”—which can happen when the mind is working actively to remember everything that it needs to. Making a to-do list can be a helpful way to release this mental burden.

7. Cleaning

Simple cleaning tasks can help to force your mind to focus on the present, possibly helping you move away from overwhelmed thoughts. Many may use this technique as a form of grounding. 

8. Delegating Tasks

Experiencing Overwhelm?

Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, it can be helpful to delegate tasks to family, friends and coworkers. They can help you to work through your to-do list while keeping you on-track and goal-oriented—possibly reducing stress associated with the state of overwhelm you may be in. 

9. Learning To Say No 

If you feel overwhelmed from having too much to do, it can be helpful to practice saying “no.” Additionally, focusing on tasks and projects that are uniquely designed for your capabilities when you can may prevent you from getting overwhelmed.

10. Stopping The Rush Of Multitasking

Did you know? Scientific study has suggested that the brain can’t really multitask—at least, not well. The quality of your work can greatly decrease if you try to do two things at once, and you can then become overwhelmed. 

Rather than overcommitting and overdoing your efforts, you may consider focusing on one thing at a time. Working in this way can help you to move as efficiently and effectively as possible.

11. Developing A Strong Support System

Many find that finding people whom you can turn to through life’s ups and downs can be helpful, building a sense of community while simultaneously reducing overwhelm. 

Additionally, sometimes talking to an in-person or online counselor can help give us the emotional support needed to deal with being overwhelmed.

BetterHelp Can Help You When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed—Here’s How 

Many people consider online therapy to help them work through overwhelm. It can be more convenient for many, as there is no need to leave the home to make appointments with your counselor of choice. 

Is Online Therapy Worth It? 

Online therapy has grown in popularity over recent years, leaving many wondering—how well does it work compared to other methods? 

Studies have found details that indicates that online therapy can offer comparable benefit for the management of mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder and depression. Many in the experimental group also indicated that it was cost-effective compared to other methods of intervention they had experienced. 


Overwhelm can affect many in many different ways. While lifestyle changes, balance and other techniques can be effective in reducing stress and overwhelm, some may find that extra support from online therapy is needed to truly feel relief. Online therapy has been scientifically suggested to be just as effective as in-person treatment. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.

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