Since we as a society tend to glorify overworking and are in constant competition over who slept less, it can be very hard to take a break without feeling guilty and overwhelmed. We also have many commitments to others that we must fulfill and so we prioritize those. “Take a break” becomes a joke rather than a health necessity, and the commitments we sacrifice are usually the ones we made to ourselves. So, how do we stop feeling overwhelmed?

1. Create a Checklist 

Keep a checklist but don’t erase tasks when you finish them. This may make you overwhelmed at first, however, use check marks as a reminder that you are making progress, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

2. Schedule your Day 

Include meal times, breaks and hobbies on top of any work-related tasks that need doing. Having clarity on how much time you have in a day will also help you understand what you can realistically accomplish. 

3. Build Breaks into your Day

Filling every waking hour of the day with work is neither effective nor fulfilling and will leave you overwhelmed. It is important to build in time between tasks or appointments to give yourself a stretch, cushion for the unexpected or a mental break. 

4. It’s ok to say “no”

A lot of the time we prioritize others over ourselves, especially since we feel guilty saying no. Overcommitting or overpromising can lead to overwhelm. You are not selfish for saying no or politely declining extra tasks. Sometimes saying no to others is saying yes to you and your success. 

5. Celebrate Successes 

Not necessarily like, eat a whole cake every time you finish a task (no judgment if you do). But whenever you finish something, even just smiling and thinking to yourself, “Go me! I finished that!” can turn your whole way of thinking from guilt over what you didn’t do to pride over what you did. 

Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed: Things to Remember

Taking these small steps can transform your feeling of being overwhelmed into a feeling of accomplishment. Taking control of your time by prioritizing tasks, being realistic with your schedule, building in breaks, being selective with your commitments and celebrating what you do get done can help you achieve more goals without the overwhelm.

“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.”

Karen Salmansohn