Scrabble letters describing how to deal with overwhelm

Dealing with Overwhelm

Overwhelm is not just a day time problem

When you are very busy, with lots of demands coming at you at once, it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed. As you have probably noticed, feelings from the day can surface at night when you want to sleep. Your mind goes back to the day, you lie awake replaying the situation, trying to problem solve. But when your mind cannot find an easy solution, your thoughts get stuck in a loop. Round and round, over and over. Classic overthinking! This blog will give you ideas on how to stop overwhelm, quieten a busy mind and fall asleep.

And overwhelm can quickly start to move into feelings of panic. 

How to deal with feelings of overwhelm

Go somewhere quiet for 5 – 10 minutes – the loo if necessary. 

To start, just breathe in and out through your nose. Slow your breathing down if you can. Then put your attention on your body and notice what overwhelm feels like for you.  

Now describe it:

  • Where do you experience it in your body?   
  • If it had a colour, what colour would it be?  
  • What size and shape is it?  
  • Is it moving or still?
  • Perhaps it feels like a train rushing towards you
  • Or something heavy falling on your shoulders.
  • People experience things in different ways.

Use your arms and breathing to describe how it feels :

  • Try holding your arms at full length and bringing them in fast towards you.
  • Or maybe you feel the pressure coming from above.
  • You feel you are being pushed down by the different demands rushing toward you.
  • Use your arms to show this.

Go back to your nasal breathing for a moment. Notice how you are breathing.

Next, allow your arms to move towards you again but a bit slower and notice how this slight slowing slows down the feeling of overwhelm – just a tiny bit.

Keep slowing it down. Using your hands and breathing, going slower, slower and slower. And allowing all the different tasks and demands to fall to the side. Now, using your intuition, select the one to deal with first and let all the others float off to the side.

Now that the speed has slowed see if the colour, size and shape of the ‘overwhelm’ feelings have changed. You can allow them to move out of your body – perhaps through the soles of your feet.

Notice how you can now begin to see the situation slightly differently. Perhaps you can see it more as a challenge to be cracked rather than a threat?

Finally, follow your breathing for a while. Allow it to slow down, and breathe only through your nose. See if you can breathe silently, perhaps with a pause after each outbreathe.


Try out some of these suggestions when you remember, during your day, and see which works best for you.

Nasal Breathing

As you go through the day, breathe in and out only through your nose – slowly, silently and gently. Did you know that you can influence how others level of calm / stress? First follow their breathing and then slowly, slow your breathing down, one breathe at a time.


Smile whenever you can as it helps switch on your feel-good, parasympathetic nervous system. And makes other people feel appreaciated!

Speak slowly

Talk slower and avoid getting caught up in the whirlwind of busyness. Remember to pause and breathe in through your nose and then talk again.


Put all your attention on what you are doing right now, and avoid trying to multi-task. Things will get done quicker, and the person you are dealing with will feel heard and reassured. Having 100% of someone’s attention – even for a short time, is an incredible experience. 

Alternate Nasal Breathing – The Reset Button!

Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana is an ancient, simple, powerful technique to reset your nervous system, de-stress and relax. Throughout the day – and as you go to bed, spend a few minutes practising Alternate Nasal Breathing.

It’s a great way to hit the reset button and only takes a minute or two to bring you back into balance and improve focus and concentration. This also helps you let go of thoughts and de-stress.   

You use your thumb and index fingers on your right hand to gently close one nostril and then the other. So first breath out and in through the left nostril and then right.  

  1. With your thumb, close your right nostril.
  2. Breath out and then in through your LEFT nostril
  3. Then switch nostrils
  4. Next close your left nostril with your index finger
  5. Breathe out and in through your RIGHT nostril

Just do this breathing technique twelve or fifteen times to start. You can do this at work, at home or even in bed.

If you want more suggestions or some help, do get in touch and remember –

When you’re fed up 

With counting sheep,

Talk to me,

I’ll help you sleep! 

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