You know that feeling when there’s just too much on your plate, and you are just moving things around trying to see what’s underneath it all? You might recognize overwhelm as your mind being so full of questions that they all tumble around each other, and none of them comes up with an answer, at least not one that’s helpful. 

You can think of it this way. If I asked you to describe a pot of stew, you probably wouldn’t be able to just by looking at it. Instead, you would have to know more about the different ingredients, the seasoning used, and how each was prepared. All of these elements come together to make a whole, delicious stew. If we start with the stew, it can be overwhelming; if we start with the ingredients and take it step by step, a stew is easy to make. 

In the same way, if we focus on all the things we have to do, it can be overwhelming. If we focus on one problem at a time and break that down into each “ingredient” and the “seasoning” (emotions) that’s present, we can make discerning choices about what to do about it. Just like we would put the stew on a simmer to let the ingredients start coming together, –– in the same way, we can gain more clarity over the situation when we start seeing how the different issues and perspectives are working with each other. 

Overwhelm is something we can feel in small moments or for days; for some, it can trigger an anxiety attack, and for most, overwhelm comes from the daily stream of more to do that adds up to chronic stress and a mind that feels like it’s about to boil over.

Most people I talk to feel overwhelmed, if not all the time, some of the time. We are living in a time where technology is increasing the speed of work, and we have still not gotten to the point where it takes over and helps us work less (maybe not less if we are realistic, but at least helps us work differently).

There are a few things that add to the overwhelm; too many different things to get done, too many people involved, too many unknowns, too much pressure to do it faster, and too many things getting added on as you go along… I could keep going, but I’m sure if I do, you will only feel even more overwhelmed.

When overwhelm has built up for a while, we tend to say we need self-care to recover. And we might need to recover if we have pushed hard for a while without the support system of The Self-Care Mindset®, but what if, instead, we could use the tools to cut through the overwhelm better? Now let me make one thing very clear, I’m not suggesting that the tools I teach will work for people who struggle with anxiety and panic disorder, but it might help you deal with the triggers before anxiety or panic takes over, therefore avoiding getting pushed to that edge.

To implement the support system I’ve developed in The Self-Care Mindset, you must step away from the problem, ask better questions, and determine what matters instead of what is urgent.


You need to take a step back to get an overview. This is something we often hear people say to get some space between you and the problem to be able to figure out what to do next. 

Pausing to get space from the problem is helpful because when you let go of thinking for a moment, the neurotransmitters and hormones in your brain change, which can help reset your attention. 

This is the kind of pause where you go for a walk, and the challenge looks different when you get back to it; you might have gotten a good idea, or your perspective has changed.


To help cut through the overwhelm, it’s essential to ask different questions than the ones that are running through the mind when in overwhelm. What the mind does is ask questions; it’s part of how we navigate the world around us, it’s part of our thoughts, and it’s part of how we solve problems. The important point here is: are you asking questions about what’s not working or about how to make it work?

Most of the time, when in overwhelm, we ask questions that make us feel even more overwhelmed, and the inner dialogue goes something like this: I don’t understand why I can’t get this done. Or, I don’t understand why this is so difficult. Or, why can I never seem to get a break?

You might recognize some of this inner dialog, or you might have some of your own. If you were to try to answer any of these questions, you would stay stuck. Instead, when we pause and ask what we need so that we can feel more focused or what we need so that we can keep calm and confident, then we will figure it out. Remember, we always ask for what we are trying to achieve rather than what we want to avoid.


This last part is the essential step to cut through the overwhelm. You probably have to make some choices based on what’s possible to get done in the time you have to do so, or you might have to set some boundaries. You might also have to prioritize based on what matters and what’s urgent—most deal with what’s urgent first, which is a normal stress response. To cut through the noise of the overwhelm, it’s essential to reconnect with our intention, what we care about, and what we are trying to achieve. Focusing on what we care about, what matters, what we are trying to achieve, and why, helps us hone in on the best next step. 

When we try to solve problems without including people and what they need to work at their best, there’s a good chance the whole stew is on our plate, overwhelming us. But when we pause to take a step back, ask what we need and what each individual needs to make things happen, and reevaluate what matters the most to each of us involved, all of the ingredients can come together to make something that works powerfully together. 

When we each pause to reconnect with what we care about, we can make choices that help us know what comes first, then next, and then next. It helps us define boundaries and priorities. It helps us choose where to put our attention and when.