15 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

feeling overwhelmed

Why is it that the people we love the most (our kids), can be the most aggravating?!! Well, my kids aggravate me most when I have the least reserves. So if I’m tired, upset, or stressing about something, what normally wouldn’t bother me pushes me over the edge. Like the other day when my son was at full volume at 7 a.m. Normally I could calmly ask him to be a little quieter, but I was tired and so I snapped and whined back to him like a kid myself, “Stop (said in two syllables)! Can’t you be quiet?!”

So, when you’re aggravated and feeling overwhelmed, take a look at our list of 15 things you can do to ease the aggravation.

1. Pray.

Only your heavenly father knows everything you’re facing in a given day and how it’s making you feel. And He cares. Spending a little time each day clearing your heart and mind and talking it out with Him is a sure-fire way to get back on track.

2. Exercise.

The release of endorphins that comes with physical exercise is a great antidote to stress. When you get wound too tight, go break a sweat! It’ll help you sleep better, too.

3. Call a friend.

Sometimes we just need to talk it out, to vent, or to worry out loud for a second. A wise friend can offer a valuable perspective on your situation and can tell you when you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

4. Channel the energy.

Sometimes, when there’s a larger problem looming, the nervous energy created can be put to good use. Try tackling that overstuffed closet or weeding a flower bed. You’ll get something accomplished rather than sitting and stewing.

5. Soak.

There is something positively therapeutic about a hot bath. Even if you think you don’t have time, fill up the tub after you get the kids to bed and just be for half an hour. If you can’t stop the list of responsibilities from rolling through your head the whole time, thumb through a magazine for a diversion.

6. Count the blessings.

Oftentimes, our state of mind is a matter of whether we take a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty approach to life. Sure, the water heater is broken, but you live in a nice warm home where hot water is a regular luxury and will be again once the repairman gets by.

7. Break it down.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When the job (or jobs) facing you seems too big to handle, break it down into smaller tasks or phases, and put them in priority order. Then, focus on the first small task as if the others didn’t exist.

8. Say “no.”

It’s perfectly acceptable to turn down a request to volunteer or serve when you’ve reached your limit. There is an infinite amount of need in the world, but not every need is one that you’re called to meet. This is tricky for capable women, because when people know you’re a “doer,” they’ll pile on the work. We promise you, if you can’t chair the fall carnival at school, someone else will. The world will continue to turn. Trust us.

9. Call in reinforcements.

If you have a particularly crazy week coming up, and your parents or in-laws are willing, let them help you out. In-town relatives or friends would probably be happy to drive carpool or pick your kids up from a couple of activities to give you some breathing room. Sometimes we don’t have simply because we don’t ask.

10. Lean on your better half.

When you’re feeling stretched to the limit, share your heart with your spouse. Together, you may be able to come up with a strategy to redistribute some tasks or eliminate some worries from your life.

11. Check out.

Occasionally, a person just reaches her limit and has to come up for air in the middle of a busy day. Leave your desk to go for a quick walk around the building, or throw your kids in the car and just go for a drive. Sometimes, all you need is a change of scenery.

12. Laugh.

They don’t call it “the best medicine” for nothing. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed simply because we take ourselves and our lives too seriously. Learn to see the “funny” in your situation and chuckle—it’ll help.

13. Get comfy.

Sometimes the clothes that we associate with certain pressures—like a career—seem to carry the tension in their very fibers. Come home and trade those control-top pantyhose for something you can breathe in. Literally.

14. Write it down.

Lots of people find that journaling about their feelings and fears is helpful in that it helps them organize their thoughts and gives an outlet for expression.

15. Turn on the tunes.

Research shows that 30 minutes of classical music has a calming effect similar to taking 10mg of Valium. Find some soothing music to take the edge off and help you relax.

Need more tips? Here are 8 more!

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?


  • Diana Patterson

    Number four hit close to home. I usually clean when I’m upset with my husband. I didn’t realize that I’m actually actively trying to calm down.

    • laura

      I am an advocate of #4. When im upset with mt hubby i take it out on the house

  • Pam Richards Watts

    Great suggestions all! There was a time in my life (little kids, traveling husband) when I knew I couldn’t afford NOT to exercise if I didn’t want my family stuck with “Angry Mom” – it made that much difference. I also find I decompress the quickest when I combine #1 (God time) with #5 (hot bath). Never fails to make me a new woman. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sinea

    Awesome advice! Pinning for future reference 🙂

  • tired mommy

    How do you accomplish any of these “me” things when you have no one to watch your kids? :-/

    • Julia R

      It is hard. I’ve instated “Quiet Time”. When they’re little little, that’s nap time, but when they’re older, they are capable of entertaining themselves in their rooms for an hour. That time is mommy time! If it’s a particularly bad day, we move Quiet Time up. Also, a lot of YMCA’s have good childcare & scholarships that are very easy to apply for and get.

    • Kimberly Lavoie

      1) after they are in bed – maybe you can’t leave the house, but some of these you don’t need to…but make sure you get your rest, too (spoken from experience).
      2) maybe find another mom that needs a break and take turns watching each other’s kids. Even once a week would give you some breather.
      I hear you though…we don’t have family nearby and don’t have $ for a sitter, etc. We get really creative sometimes to find ways to be together as a couple or for me to get some mommy time.

  • Jennifer Cares

    Great for busy moms…. Great for Caregivers! These are the kinds of things I help them with… Love it!

  • overwhemled

    I am really overwhelmed with teaching two Spanish classes, teaching an English class, helping my friends, teaching kids, cleaning the house, making diner, and grading home work. I am not that good with the computer and a lot of times need to ask my husband for help. I feel like he is upset with me and I am just putting my burdens on him. what should I do?

    • Lila

      Is it possible for you to sit out a semester and take a class for yourself? You’ll have a great place to take all of your questions.

  • Pokegirl shilah

    Written by someone who hasn’t experienced what we are struggling thru geeze pray and laugh and soak. Keep these advice Pages to people who have useful advice. Calling bullshit on a pampered mum who thinks she’s got it all worked out and wants to graciously let us in on the secret. Polite boooooo . Anyone with any good advice we don’t get to bath or find time for ourselves and are completely depleted from giving and never receiving loosing self. Etc! Would love to hear ur strength to help us all thru x

    • KristiKayEP

      The strength is your relationship with your heavenly Father and your Savior, Jesus, Who died for you. Choose Him. Persue Him. It has to be your choice.