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How to navigate life when you’re overwhelmed

It’s not hard to see that we’re always much harder on ourselves than we are on other people. With comparison to others at an all-time high as we live our lives through an Instagram lens, fighting off overwhelm is more important than ever. So how do you navigate life when you’re overwhelmed?

Feeling overwhelmed

The trouble with overwhelm is that it leads to exhaustion, and when you’re suffering from the classic signs of burnout, it can be tricky to pull yourself out of it. Here are some ways to deal with life when you’re staring overwhelm in the face, that should hopefully keep you from plunging into full-blown burnout.

Check your self talk

As I hinted at earlier, when we begin to feel like life is too much, we very often make things worse by being even harder on ourselves. “You should be able to handle this”, “You’ve had it worse than this – toughen up”, “Lauren has so much more on her plate – how dare you feel this way”…sound familiar?

Changing your inner narrative won’t happen overnight, but learning to listen to what you’re telling yourself is the first step. You want to be talking to yourself like you would a friend who is going through a rough time. Would you say these things to them? Of course not. So why is it okay for you to treat yourself this way? Short answer: it’s not.

Switch off

Exit Instagram, stop scrolling through Pinterest, lock your phone. We’re constantly being bombarded with images and stories of people who appear to not only be doing better than us, but who also look richer, thinner, happier, prettier, more successful, and closer towards chasing their dreams than we are.

I’m not the first person to tell you that it’s all a lie. If we could only see their credit card balances, the rest of their less than tidy houses, and the amount of makeup and clothing and photo editing required for them to show us these images, the world would laugh.

We all know that this content is not going anywhere, though. So we need to be more mindful of how, when, and how often we consume it. And also be cognisant of how we feel when looking at certain apps or accounts. If it makes us feel like we’re not enough, shut it down. Unfollow. Keep scrolling.

Another part of switching off is checking what productivity apps or tools you use. Personally, when life starts to feel a bit much, getting push notifications from my productivity app telling me that doing the laundry is 3 days overdue, my blood pressure rises even further. Perhaps give yourself a due date of when to get back into your routine, so you can recover guilt-free.


If you’re struggling to get through everything in the day, it might be a sign that your to-do list is too long. This does not make you a failure, it simply makes you a human being who is bound to the confines of the 24 hour day.

Take a look at your day, and remove anything that isn’t absolutely vital. Again, this isn’t forever – no one is calling you lazy or a failure – this is just a temporary measure until you are feeling better equipped to handle things.

Will the world end if you don’t unpack the dishwasher tonight? Will you be a public laughing stock if you leave your inbox on unread before you go home? In case you’re wondering: of course not.

Open up

A lot of thoughts and feelings around being overwhelmed get far worse when we keep them to ourselves. We lose perspective on things, and we also tend to do this really dangerous thing where we predict what those around us are thinking and feeling. Maybe your partner won’t even notice if you don’t rearrange the kitchen cupboards tonight. But in your mind, they are rolling their eyes at your ineptitude every time they enter the kitchen.

Open up to your friends and family, and let them know that you’re having a hard time and feeling overwhelmed. Even if you’re managing to cope alone and have put some steps in place, simply sharing your feelings will help you to unpack them and deal with them in a more healthy way.

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