What to do when you feel overwhelmed

feeling overwhelmed

Summary: What do you keep telling yourself when you have no more bandwidth to do one more thing? Overwhelmed is how most business people feel these days. Here are some ideas to help you find a way to be reinvigorated.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

Everything right now seems to make my staff (including me) tense and feel overwhelmed.

As a highachieving business person, I often say to myself, “I can always do just one more thing today.” 

That’s precisely what my senior VP told me two weeks ago. 

Is it best to be first even if you are overwhelmed staying at the top?

He is always taking on, as they say, “more than he can chew.”

And yesterday I got a call from his home office. He wanted to talk about moving forward with some new projects. He claimed he was feeling somewhat better from the headaches and exhaustion that had invaded his body.

No, it wasn’t Covid. He just had a bad cold from the weather changes. No big deal, so he claimed.

His ideas were great. I was thrilled he had moved past that sense of being overwhelmed.  

However, he called me later in the day and said, “I am a jerk. I thought I was invincible. Yes, I feel better now and no longer overwhelmed. On the other hand, I know the headaches will possibly get me again. I just wanted to tell you that you are right. And thanks.” 

Somethimes it takes an illness to reset our thinking.

Before asking him what I was so right about, he said he had to go (he meant that literally). Later, he told me that he was overwhelmed with “the runs.” And, sadly he was constantly running to the bathroom, along with the headaches.  

Today he called again and had more time to put his thoughts together. 

He told me what he had learned in those very long and unpleasant past few weeks. 

To sum up, here is what this great VP said about being overwhelmed:

How can you go from overwhelmed to reinvigorated?

“I want everyone to know that they better prioritize what matters before any illness or that incredibly crazy COVID does it for them. It means to look at more than being a super-achiever. I would listen to people who talked about work-life balance as if they were all wimps. Male and female, they were the ones who would never be the top leaders. 

On the other hand, I always said, “Sure, I can do more, just ask me, and I will do it.

Here is what I learned.

So sad, I had to learn it the hard way. I know you have been encouraging me to look for a better balance. And I figured you were giving me your “be kind, be nice’ “woman talk.

I hope this last comment did not offend you. To be clear, what I said about you as a woman leader, was meant to be a compliment that you are much more in touch with positive emotions than I am.

I saw myself as fierce, kinda the “large and in charge” type of guy. 

To clarify, it’s all bullshit!  

This time of pandemic takes out whoever gets in its path, one way or another.

What are your boundaries to stay healthy and content?

Above all, back to me as the President of our company. I want all of us, our entire organization, to heed what my VP said. I don’t want to have us be overwhelmed.

Would you mind giving some advice to stay out of being in that state of distress? I know the stress can make us sick.

We all need to gain better skills to handle these difficult times.



Prioitize your work day to stay out of overwhelm

Dear Hopeful,

Your VP said it well. When stress is at an all-time high, it is an important time for all of us to change our perspective. Or there will be a constant sense of feeling overwhelmed.

Unless you, and everyone who reads this, learn to prioritize.

In other words, that means to stop barreling, though, because you can. It means stop ignoring the pain, both physical and emotional, that comes from being a super-achiever.

In the same vein, you need to stop and ask, “What the hell am I doing? Even better, why am I running on empty?”

Drive on empty and soon there is no place to go

To clarify, you may never get a second chance. 

Most importantly, consider taking time to think about what matters in the long run. Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Do you want to have a life that is more about sharing and caring? Is that a better route than needing to be the first to get to the top of the hill? 

This era is critical for me to be a more effective human being, not just a more effective leader. 

Tell everyone that life includes work, yet it is not just about that slippery word, success, unless you have it in all areas of your life. 

And there you have it.  

We are all being allowed to look inside ourselves and make some vital decisions.  

When you feel like you have no more bandwidth, I suggest taking a break when overwhelmed. Yes, take a break so you won’t break down or burn out.

Hopefully, the virus will not impact you. Or at least, you will have the stamina to fight it off. 

Live a life that is satisfying and fulfilling. Make a list of what matters. In the words of esteemed psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who did the pioneering work with dying patients, No one ever said to her in their last days, saying, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.”

Find ways to create your balance of work and home. Dance, sing, paint, exercise, and love those around you. Now, that is an excellent definition of success. 

To your success,


PS. I think you would enjoy reading my new book “Invisible STRESS (It’s NOT What YOU Think!)” to help you find ways out of being overwhelmed and move to high energy and even peace.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options