Feeling Overwhelmed? Make a list.

If you’re reading this article, chances are you feel overwhelmed sometimes. Maybe even most of the time. You might even feel overwhelmed right now. If any of these apply, please keep reading. Slowly. A little slower. Now take a deep breath. In for three seconds. Hold it for three seconds. Exhale for three seconds. Repeat a few times if you need to. Breathing feels great doesn’t it.

So here we are. All of us collectively, having felt or feeling a little or a lot overwhelmed at some point in our lives. The first thing to point out is you’re not alone. The fact that this article even exists confirms that. So what to do about it?

Let’s start by thinking about what feeling overwhelmed means. For the purpose of this article, we’re referring to feeling something very intensely and not knowing how to deal with it. Specifically when it comes to stress in our daily lives. 

There are many triggers that can cause feelings of overwhelm, but one of the most common is a feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to do it. Sound familiar? 

One of the best ways to alleviate this overwhelm is to get everything you need to do out of your head and onto paper (or a screen).  In other words, make a list.

Making a list allows us to do a couple different things. First, as was just mentioned, it gets everything out of our heads. Our brains are not wired to process everything, everywhere, all at once (great movie btw). So by getting all our tasks, need-tos, should-dos and absolutely get dones out of our head, we can come up with a plan to actually start chipping away.

The second thing it allows us to do is prioritize. Not everything that is important is urgent, and not everything that is urgent is important. Pick the top priority and do that first. If something isn’t important, drop it to the bottom. If some of those important things are urgent, do them first. The point is to figure out what actually needs to get done sooner than later and put your focus on that thing with the time you have.

The best part about a list is you can come back to it later. If you don’t have time to actually get any of the things done, just making the list and prioritizing it can help with those feelings of overwhelm as you now have a plan on how you’ll actually get all those things done.


Image Credit: Mart Production