5 tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed

I wish I’d handled that situation better this morning. I really wish the kids would stop yelling. How am I meant to get anything done? I’m never going to learn the language. How am I going to get through three more months of this?  

Sound familiar?

Overwhelm affects us at all levels – mind, body, spirit. It’s a feeling or state where our body and brain, and even our soul, are being called upon to do more than they can handle. Headaches, inflammation, anxiety, detachment, frustration. Overwhelm is a problem that creates more problems.

When we feel overwhelmed we’ve essentially lost the ability to discern between what to pay attention to and how to respond. Creating and maintaining extra room in your emotional bucket is what prevents overwhelm from becoming, well, overwhelming.

So how do you create more room in your emotional bucket?


Acknowledge you’re overwhelmed

Stop resisting it and stop telling yourself things should be different. When we’re outside our comfort zone a degree of overwhelm is to be expected. It’s normal. Our emotions are somewhat like a child crying for our attention. The overwhelm just wants to be seen. Acknowledge it. Confront the feeling of overwhelm. Allow it to be there.


Grab a pen & paper. Draw three columns.

Identify and acknowledge the things you can’t change. You can’t change how stressed your host parents are or that the language school hasn’t got back to you yet. So, write them down and give yourself permission to leave them there.

Identify the things you can change.There are always things you can do to lighten the load. You can have an early night. You can stop listening to negative self-talk. You can make more time for things you enjoy. 

Identify the things you choose not to change right now. From the list of things you can change, maybe the language lessons can wait until next month. Perhaps clearing your emails can wait. Transfer these over to the last column. What is really urgent? And what is not? 


Say no if you need to

Sometimes we have to say no to something now so that we can say yes down the track. Learning to prioritise doesn’t always come easily, but a little practice goes a long way. Are you doing things because you feel like you should? Or because you want to?


Look after the basics

Do what you need to do to get a good night’s sleep. Eat wholesome, nourishing foods. Move your body, with exercise and physical activities you enjoy. Get out in nature and, if possible, spend some time in the sun. Even 15 minutes a day in the sunshine helps those feel-good vibes.


Check your connections

Whether it’s a call to the folks back home, joining your local au pair Facebook group or Skyping your bestie, taking time to connect brings big rewards.

It’s good to remember that getting off track is completely normal. Going out of balance is all part of balance. Being overwhelmed isn’t a sign of failure. It’s simply part of refining what is important to you so that you can continue to make choices as your values and goals evolve.

Self-care is a process, not a goal.

You cannot fail.

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