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15 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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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. It happened the other day when after a long ride, I was rushing the kids out of the car because my bladder was beyond full. My kids would not grab their stuff, so I screamed, “Get out of the car now!” Had I not been ready to pee in my pants, I don’t think I would’ve raised my voice at all, but I was feeling overwhelmed and I let it get the best of me.

The thing is, most of the time when I lose my temper, I could feel that tension rising in me. Sometimes it’s over the course of an hour and sometimes it’s over the course of a week. It feels like a pot of water going from cool, to simmering, to a rolling boil. So when you’re aggravated and feeling overwhelmed, take a look at our list of 15 things you can do to turn down the heat.

1. Pray.

God 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 surefire 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 or shower. 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.

Often, our state of mind depends on whether we see the glass as half empty or half full. 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 after the repairman arrives.

Often, our state of mind depends on whether we see the glass as half empty or half full. Click To Tweet

7. Break it down.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When what you have to do leaves you feeling overwhelmed, 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 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.

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 other 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 mom 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 Spanx 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. Bored with your typical journal, here are 7 ways to journal that every mom has time for.

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 other ideas? Here are 8 more!

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed?


How can you tell when I’m aggravated?

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