Week 3 recap – dealing with overwhelm


I began to feel overwhelmed last week.  Training didn’t go well for a number of reasons (mostly diabetes related), I’ve completely changed the way I train recently, I’d made significant adjustments to my diet in pursuit of my goals, there’s a lot going on at work, and as a family we’ve recently started preparing for baby Simpson number three (due in March).

Historically, I wouldn’t have caught myself until much further down the line.  However, I’ve now begun to recognise the feeling much earlier, and I’ve developed a five-step process for dealing with it which I want to share with you today.  If this can be of help to one person then it will be worth it for me.  So, here we go:

Step 1 – acknowledge

Brene Brown (if you haven’t come across her then read her, she’s amazing) talks about how in her research, across many people, the average number of emotions people say they experience is three – they are either happy, sad or angry.  But to only be able to say you’re in one of three states misses out on the whole continuum of emotions which can be experienced, and you’re probably experiencing but not recognising.  And if you can’t identify what you’re feeling, it will be very difficult to change something.

I am now able to identify signs that I am becoming overwhelmed.  Restlessness, not enjoying things I should be, and even slight paranoia are the three for me.  And I noticed these last week.

So, the first step, was to acknowledge that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed.

Step 2 – identify probable cause(s)

Probable is the key word here.  You may get it wrong initially (see ‘Reassess’ later).  But think about what’s changed recently.  Think about what you have going on.  Think about whether there’s a particular time or activity that makes you feel overwhelmed.  Once you’ve identified probable cause you’ll be ready to take step three, and:

Step 3 – talk about it

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can build a storm in my head.  To blow something out of proportion that, when talked through, becomes smaller and less frightening.

I am fortunate in that I had a couple of people who I was able to turn to and talk through the situation*.  As soon as I’d talked through it the problem seemed less daunting to deal with and also helped me to bounce some ideas around for step four:

Step 4 – experiment

The quickest way to keep feeling the way you do is to keep doing what you’ve been doing.  You probably need to change something in order to feel different.  In this instance, I’ve returned more to the diet that I am familiar with, with a view to purely concentrating on the new training regime at the moment.  The relief that changing something can bring is immense, the pressure release is such a boost.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed then change a behaviour, give it some time – and then move on to step 5:

Step 5 – reassess

Having acknowledged where I was, identified the probable cause, talked it through with people I trust and made an adjustment, this week I’ve asked myself the question, ‘have things changed?’  The answer for me, thankfully, is yes, I’m feeling much better.  But, if the answer is no, then go back to step 2.  If you’ve actually missed the behaviour you changed then reintroduce it and try something else in step four.  If you haven’t missed it, but still feel the same, then try and change something else, and then reassess again.  You may not nail it first time, but you’ll almost certainly learn something anyway from the process, you’ll get there in the end, and taking positive steps will only build your positivity.


I’m sure we all feel overwhelmed at some point in our lives.  But I believe the quicker we can identify this and deal with it the more fulfilled we’ll feel.  Hopefully the process above will help you in your journey, if not today then at some point.  I’d be really interested to hear of other people’s techniques for dealing with overwhelm in the comments.

Lift well,


*If you’re in a similar situation and feel like you don’t have someone you can talk to, then please feel free to get in touch with me.