What to Do if You are Feeling Overwhelmed

If you are anything like me, you get to this point in December and you start to feel a bit of a panic.  Christmas is just days away and there is still so much to do! Neighbor gifts, shopping, party planning and hosting.  You know that feeling, -the tightness in your chest and throat, the tension in your neck and temples. When overwhelm sets in, it can immobilize us and cause all kinds of stress.

We call overwhelm an indulgent emotion because it really serves no purpose. It’s one of those feelings that just grows worse as we try to push it away.  But here is the interesting thing, overwhelm is never caused by what’s going on in your life or your list of things to do, it’s caused by your thoughts about them.


I know many women who would argue that this is just the circumstance of their life. But how can that be true when someone else might have an even longer list, yet they seem to have it all together, get everything done, and have time and energy to spare? (We all have this friend and try not to hate her right???)

If it were a fact, that ”to do” lists caused overwhelm, our society would be a much different place. Our progress and advancement would be at a much lower level.

So what’s the trick?  

The answer is managing the way that you think about your list.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1.  See it ALL as evidence that your life is amazing.

My dear friend, Heidi Benjaminsen, shared this insight with me yesterday and I’d like to share it with you:

“People without friends or family do not have to do any shopping this weekend.

People without children do not have any toys scattered on the floor, or long holiday recitals to attend.

People without money do not have shopping lists. Or have to wait in long lines. Or have to return items or wrap presents.

People without jobs do not have boring work parties.

People without neighbors do not have yet another cookie exchange.

You’re busy, and it’s all EVIDENCE of your wonderful life.

Be grateful for these beautiful blessings that create your busy-ness.”

  1. Tell yourself a new story.  

Instead of thinking, “There is way too much to do and not enough time.” Try calming your brain by reminding yourself that these things are always true:

     “There is always enough time to get the most important things done.”

     “I am totally capable of doing this.”

     “B- work is fine!”

     “It’s not the end of the world if ___ doesn’t get done.”

  1. Stop telling yourself that you HAVE to do anything.

Own that it’s a choice.  Your choice.

You do not have to feed the kids… do the laundry… deliver neighbor gifts or even have a Christmas tree etc..   There are people in the world who don’t.  

I’m not suggesting that there aren’t natural consequences, but the absolute truth is that you get to choose.

So if you choose to do all the things… acknowledge that you are choosing to do them, because of the way that you want to show up in the world. 

Owning your choices will help you stop blaming everyone and everything else around you, and let you enjoy your amazing capabilities.  Find gratitude for your talents.

I hope these tips are helpful for you. Overwhelm doesn’t have to come with the territory. Rather than letting it shut us down and putting strain our relationships, let’s manage our thinking to create more peace and love… after all, that’s the reason for this beautiful season.