woman crying how to deal with anxiety

9 Tips on how to deal with anxiety when you’re overwhelmed

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed you don’t know what to do? It can be incredibly difficult to know how to deal with anxiety.

Then, rather than doing something productive, you find yourself binge-watching Netflix and eating too many Doritos? If you’re so overwhelmed you can’t figure out how to deal with anxiety, you’re in the right place.

Please tell me it isn’t just me that starts to feel stressed out and overwhelmed when life gets too chaotic. We are running from activity to activity and appointment to appointment and it all just becomes too much.

You want to be one of those put-together Pinterest moms who seems like she has it all together. You want your home to be a well-oiled and productive machine. Everything just seems to happen like clockwork when it’s supposed to. 

But instead, every morning is pure anarchy. Nobody knows where their backpack is or if they did their homework last night. You can’t find the purse to match your shoes and your kids can’t even seem to find matching shoes. Again, just me?

As I muddle through mom-life, I have read more books and blog posts about this subject than I care to admit. And along the way, I have found a few things that always seem to help. So, when life starts to become paralyzing with crippling chaos.

I’ve gathered my tips here in the hopes of helping other moms who are feeling overwhelmed with managing daily life also. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me. Here are the 9 steps I do each time I start to feel paralyzed.

3 Things to do at home to be more productive when feeling overwhelmed

  • Figure out the food

When life gets crazy, the two things I start short-changing are my sleep and eating at home.

I don’t know why these two are the first to go. But they are. And they are the most important, as they are the building blocks to getting and staying productive.

Without them, staying productive and keeping the overwhelm at bay becomes nearly impossible. I have written so much about this subject already, I don’t need to do it again. But you can read more about it here and here.

  • Figure out the money

Whether you need to make some phone calls and figure out who you owe how much, or you simply need to put all your bills on auto-pay, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you figure out the money. 

Budgeting has always been such a four-letter word for me that I never wanted to sit down and figure out my bills. So, it never mattered if I had the money or not, I always missed the due dates for everything. This causes chaos and uncomfortable phone calls. Avoid the mess and figure out your finances today. Stop avoiding this and set up a simple budget you will actually do each month.

  • Schedule family time

In his book, Financial Peace, Dave Ramsey talks about how when we get so focused on attaining certain goals, we forget about some of the basics that make life worth living. The whole point of working so hard to get out of debt and buy that new house is to have time to spend with your family. 

But if you don’t make the time to spend quality time as a family now, it still won’t happen once you achieve your goals. Take the time to put it on your schedule today. It doesn’t have to happen today – or even this week – but if you don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t happen.

3 Decluttering ideas when feeling overwhelmed

  • Clean out your car

I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel overwhelmed it’s because our schedules are in overdrive. Somebody has somewhere they need/want to be all the time. And since you are the mom caring for tiny humans who can’t drive yet, you’re their chauffeur. 

And then something else starts to happen when our schedules are going full speed. We are in the car non-stop. And the car starts to look like a fast-food station and an art studio met in a hurricane and exploded in my car. You know what I’m talking about: crayons and markers are rolling around on the floor along with hamburger wrappers and Happy Meal boxes. Just me?

Head out to your driveway right now with a small trash bag and clean it all out. Then lug your vacuum out there and give it a quick once over. You will be so glad you did. 

  • Get ahold of the laundry situation

Instead of the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I have changed this to a load of laundry a day keeps the overwhelm away.

Do you ever get anxious just looking at the crazy pile of laundry? How do two little people make so much laundry? If this starts to get out of control I can start to feel my anxiety levels increasing with the height of the laundry pile.

So, I will start dividing the pile up into smaller loads and just get started. Sometimes, in order to catch up, I will have to spend an entire evening doing a marathon laundry session. If I have control over the TV I will put on an NCIS marathon, otherwise, I will fire up some of my favorite podcasts and just get started.

Once I have things back to a manageable level and feel a little more in control, I will get back into my routine of a load of laundry a day. This alone might sound overwhelming, and if so, I have written an entire article outlining my process here. 

  • Declutter the mess in your home

Again, I would much rather do small little sessions more often than one large marathon cleaning session. If this isn’t your style, you can check out how to do a marathon cleaning session here, or pick up a copy of Marie Kondo’s book here.

Otherwise, read on for what I like to do.

I got this from FlyLady, of course, and want to give credit where credit is due. I honestly don’t know what my home would look like without her gentle prodding emails each day. But thanks to FlyLady, I have gotten into the habit of decluttering one small space in 15 minutes each day. Don’t take out more than you can do in a short session.

This is only 15 minutes for a reason, you can’t do too much in such a short time. But you also can’t make too much of a mess in such a short time. 

Does this ever happen to you: you have a free Saturday afternoon so you think you will clean out your closet. You take everything out and lay it on your bed. You go through each piece and only put back what you love and wear.

Now you have a huge pile to be donated, but it’s also now 5 PM on a Saturday and you can’t run your huge pile to the rescue mission. So you shove it in a corner and figure you’ll get to it on Monday morning. Of course, Monday morning comes along in all its chaotic glory and the last thing you have time to do is get that huge pile in the corner ready to take to charity.

Now it sits there for a few days (or weeks!). It’s gotten mixed up with some clothes that you know you want to keep. Or worse, you see something and start second-guessing if you want to get rid of it. After all, once you start working out again, it might fit.

Nope, don’t go there.

Instead, you need to get the clothes out immediately. And if you do start working out again, you can treat yourself to new clothes that fit right and are in style. 

In the meantime, instead, what I want you to look for are small 15 minute pockets of time in which you can declutter. Make your three piles: keep, toss, donate, and sort a small section.

You can pick one drawer in the kitchen, or one shelf in the pantry or one night stand in your bedroom. But the key here is to pick a small area you can declutter in only 15 minutes. Once your 15-minute timer is up, immediately walk the trash bag out to the trash can. Take your small donation bag to the trunk of the car, and then put away the keep items.

Now, the next time you are running errands you can quickly and easily pop into your favorite charity and donate that one bag. Keep it simple and it will get done. Otherwise, you run the risk of the previous scenario where you end up with a bigger mess than you started with.

3 ways how to deal with anxiety (and what to do when feeling stressed out)

These last three suggestions will take time. Don’t try to tackle all these tips at once momma. I know you! I know you want it all and you want it all right now! And when it comes to our homes and our families it can be so hard to be patient.

But I promise with these last three suggestions, to get them right, take your time!

  • Create a daily routine

Many times that feeling of not knowing what to do next comes because I have gotten out of our normal routine. I like that relaxed feeling of a lazy summer morning when we don’t have any commitments that day. But we can’t live every day without some sort of structure. 

Creating a daily routine is one of the key components in getting myself out of that overwhelmed and anxious feeling. Those feelings of looking around at the chaos and not being able to figure out where to even start. When those feelings start to take over is when the anxiety really starts kicking in. 

So, I stop and grab a notebook or post-it note and start jotting down some ideas for a rough draft routine. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but adding in some sort of structure to my time gives me a sense of calm.

This will look different for everyone. So grab a hot cup of java (or tea) and a notebook and start thinking of the things that need to happen every day. These are the boring, day in and day out activities. Many times, I actually like to start with my evening routine and then work backward to my morning routine. 

I have talked about creating routines before. But, in a nutshell, it is just a shortlist of 3 or 4 things that I do around the same time each day. So, for my evening routine it might look something like this:

  • Turn off my screens (phone, laptop, Netflix, whatever) one hour before bedtime
  • Check the kitchen and make sure it is semi-cleaned (at least good enough that I can get to the coffee in the morning!) – Ideally, if I have the time and energy get the dishes into the dishwasher and run it.
  • Check the laundry and make sure I at least don’t have anything sitting in the washer, get it into the dryer. Ideally, both the washer and dryer are empty at night, and clothes are put away.
  • Check the calendar, what do we have tomorrow? Do I need to gather any items for the morning? What time do I have to set the alarm? 
  • Quick walk through the house to ensure there aren’t any hot messes that need to be picked up or at least corralled somehow. Check the front door and check the appliances are all off (this is just part of my quirks and what will lead to anxiety if I find myself in bed wondering if these were checked) 

Your evening routine will look different. You might not care if the door is locked. Or someone else in your house is compulsive about those things so you know you don’t have to. Whatever your situation looks like is what will dictate what your evening routine looks like. For more information on my daily routine and to get a free printable you can click here.

  • Declutter the mess on your mind

Outside of routines, the next most common cause for overwhelm in my life is having too many thoughts swirling around in my head. One of my favorite quotes is from David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, who said   

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

Our brains are amazing tools for coming up with brilliant ideas and solving problems. The problem is, we are filling our minds with so much information that we can’t focus when we need to be creative.

When I start to feel overwhelmed with too many thoughts and projects swirling around in my head, I break out a notebook or bullet journal and just start writing. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to this, and there definitely isn’t any right or wrong way. I call this my brain dump

This is a time to dump all the thoughts onto paper. For some reason, just the act of writing it all down is usually enough to calm me down. So, the next time you don’t know how to deal with anxiety, grab some paper, and start getting it all out.

  • Schedule some self care

Lastly, as you’re trying to fight off anxiety and overwhelm, you should focus on some self-care. And yes, a quick bubble bath or a trip to the salon can be great self-care, it doesn’t stop there. Self-care is about listening to your body. 

Are you already tired before your day even begins? Is your schedule so crammed with activities there isn’t any time to sit and be quiet with your feelings once in a while? Are you constantly in go-mode from the time you get up to the time you collapse into bed at night?

Then you need to set some time aside for self-care. Sometimes, this means setting my alarm for 15 minutes before I actually need to get up and get my day started. This way I can make some coffee, have some quiet time, and you know – drink my coffee while it’s still hot!

Other times, I need more than 15 minutes of quiet time. Learning to ask for help has been one of the hardest parts of motherhood for me.

Who do you have in your life that you can ask for help? Do you still live close to your family? Can you ask your sister or mom to come to watch the kids for an hour?

For me, my blood family doesn’t live close, but I have people in my life who are like family. I have one girlfriend in particular who I know if I call or text and say I need some time, she will make time in her schedule to watch the kids for me. If we plan ahead, and try to catch ourselves before we need extreme self-care we will schedule play dates and each takes a turn watching the kids so we each have some away time.

Get creative, who do you have in your life that can help you?

Overcome overwhelm and stop suffering today

Wow, this was a lot of information. And if you stuck with me through the end, thank you!

I truly hope these suggestions help you to crawl out from under the sinking feelings of overwhelm, and how to deal with anxiety, so you can finally take control over your life. 

From your home to your possessions to your schedule and of course, the mess in your mind, the anxiety and overwhelm can be debilitating. 

But not when you focus on what you can control and take these 9 steps. Start with the top and then just slowly work your way down the list. 

You can’t possibly do them all at once. Start with the food. You can’t make any progress on anything if you’re hungry or you’re responsible for feeding little ones. Get that taken care of first. 

Putting together an entire meal plan and a monthly budget doesn’t have to happen today. But you do need to make sure there is food to eat and the lights are going to stay on. 

Then you can move on to creating some intentional family time. Remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place. These are the people you get out of bed for (sometimes earlier than you’d like!).

Keep working your way down the list. When it comes to anxiety and self-care, some people might choose to start with the bubble bath. But I find that when my life and my home are a hot mess, the bubble bath is anything but relaxing.

So start with the rest and end with the self-care. But be sure to make your way to the end, you deserve to be happy and healthy.

If you have any questions about this, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you personally, in a DM or email. This article took on a big subject and sometimes it’s more than I can cover in one article.  But I hope that I was able to cover enough to get you started so you can work your way down the path towards peace and away from anxiety.

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