Burnout Nicole van Hattem

Overwhelmed by overwhelm – how to get over it

The word overwhelm has been given a negative wrap. It actually means ‘to have an strong emotional effect on’. That could mean you are overwhelmed by joy and happiness but we tend to use it to describe how we feel with too much on our plate.

Busy is the catchcry of the 21st century with some wearing it like an achievement badge; like the goal is to be busy and if you dare sit down and take a moment for yourself, you are letting the side down.

But being busy all the time is a recipe for disaster. I know. I have suffered three burnouts in my life and they all came from doing too much and not looking after myself. Each burnout has been different and I think three is enough. Now, it is my duty to make sure YOU do not burnout or get overwhelmed by overwhelm.

We get overwhelmed by not having enough time, having too much to do, too many demands from people wanting our time, too many responsibilities and the drive to have, be and do more.

Something has to give.

It could be you. Your health. Your wellbeing. Maybe even your mind.


Let’s do a check on what overwhelm shows up as.

Letting go of overwhelm starts with acknowledging how you feel. Here are the symptoms:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Feeling nervous
  3. Feeling overburdened
  4. Feeling trapped
  5. Unable to breathe
  6. Irritable
  7. Under constant pressure
  8. Not having fun
  9. Always stressed

Sound familiar?

Let it go

Now you know what it looks like …. Let’s let it go.

First things.

Stop what you are doing. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  You are not going to ease the pressure by doing more. Take a few days off and spend time being honest with yourself. Reach out for help. Or you will burnout.

Delegate. Are there things you are doing someone else can do? Yes.  Is the answer you are looking for.

Say no. Stop saying yes to everything. Stop being overly polite. It is ok to say no if you need to. The problem we have as humans is we do not want to offend anyone and we do things so as not to upset others. You are number one. If you don’t want to do it. Don’t.

Keep it simple. Do you really need to be doing all the things you are doing? Are there some things you can drop to give you more time for you? Is it necessary for you to be out every night? Do you need to stay up and watch one more episode on Netflix?

Detox. Your diet. Your viewing habits. Your social media feed. Being on social media in general. Feeling overwhelmed can be made worse by external influences and lead to burnout. If you are eating food lacking in nutrition, your body has to work harder. If you are watching zombies and cop shows you are filling your head with negativity. If you are checking Facebook all the time, it is like feeding your brain drugs – too much stimulation (check out this article from Time).

There is no need to be overwhelmed. It doesn’t serve any purpose but it can be easy to slip into.

Recognise the work style and lifestyle patterns in your life that are making it too easy for you to say yes to too many things that you should say no to, or to be distracted from what is really important to you because you are “busy”.

Ask for help

If you’re ready to let go of the overwhelm and need a little support in making it happen, download the free eBook “Create Your Hot & Healthy Life”. The workbook gives you the steps, tools and templates you need to create some focus and balance, so you can breathe again.



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