OVERWHELM…..for me has always been slightly fascinating. The version of ‘me’ before I began my journey into spirituality, would deny ever feeling ‘overwhelmed’!! The need to achieve and push through life meant I had no time to stop and say, hang on, I think I’m feeling a little overwhelmed here!!

Which is why, after a year of much “overwhelm”, I thought I’d and share some experiences that some may resonate with, and also offer some ideas and suggestions as to how to recognise overwhelm, and how we can navigate our way through it, with awareness and hence learn more deeply along the way smoothing our path for the next time it pops up in our lives.

So, what is “overwhelm”? The Oxford dictionary offers the definition in regard to a ‘somebody’ having the following effect; “to have such a strong emotional effect on someone that it is difficult for them to resist or know how to react”. Tellingly, my little word hippo app simply states “To overpower, crush”!! Quite dramatic wording, and as with all feelings, very important to recognise and notice, before the “crushing” builds up to a completed sense of “Crushed”!

So, what if its not a ‘person’ that’s’ triggering this inability to “know how to react”? Quite often it may simply be that we are trying to do too much in the time that we have? OR we are putting so much pressure on ourselves, albeit unwittingly, that we ourselves are the ‘somebody’! In fact, I’d hazard a guess that the pressure of careers, families, relationships and chores, to name but a few, are a bigger source of overwhelm than a specific person for most of us. Yet, like me, we don’t/didn’t acknowledge that pervading sense of overwhelm as we feel like time is running out, or the pressure to succeed at ‘everything’ that ‘we’ as that ‘somebody’, loading onto ourselves. We’re walking round just being busy, life is just hectic and there’s not much I can do about it. And, on a day to day basis we maybe don’t notice it so much, perhaps its a low level daily stress, which is also definitely worth looking at, and the below techniques will still be worth trying…. but what I want to talk about here is “overwhelm” when it comes to trying something new, stepping “outside of our comfort zone”, creating a new helpful way of living, changing old habits etc etc.

My ‘denial’ of experiencing overwhelm was unhelpful in so many ways, but two distinct areas that it really created problems for me was firstly, simply being able to complete tasks to move myself through the creating of a new business, that sense of being “stuck” and secondly, the negative self-talk that this then generated was heightened. Because, for every task on the to do list that wasn’t ticked, was another failure in stepping forwards.

Until I was ready to acknowledge that I was feeling “Overwhelmed”, until I was able to name it, admit it, it just kept building. And so, tip number one – RECOGNISE it, face it, don’t deny, pretend or push down what is happening, that will simply create resistance within ourselves, and compound that sense of “stuckness” even more. This applies to all feelings, they are here to ‘tell’ us something. The more we deny or ignore them, the longer we remain wrestling with the same issue, unable to move through and beyond it. “This too shall pass” as the ancient wisdom goes, and here I was staying stuck!

Now, here’s the thing! Being trained in metaphysical counselling, I KNOW this!!! But, we all have blind spots and this clearly was one for me to learn and navigate through!

So what does “Overwhelm” look like? This was a learning in itself, because overwhelm may be the ‘feeling’, but it plays out in so many different ways eg procrastinating, deliberation, non-action, distraction etc. For me it felt like a little fog hanging around my head that whilst not ‘heavy’, still feels limiting, restricting, almost like soft handcuffs, and with very little idea of what to do about it because I couldn’t put my finger on it, and of course I couldn’t own up to it, as per my conditioning! So I would feel stuck, frustrated, disappointed, I lacked clarity, and in that state it kind of spiral’d, keeping me stuck in procrastination and over-complication, leaving me unable to take useful action on anything. Or, when I did it felt overly hard work. So, the cycle continues, feeling even more frustrated and disappointed with myself. For some of us, it can go in the opposite direction, we’ll start to take loads of unnecessary, directionless or frantic action, jump onto that treadmill feeing of “if I just keep blindly ‘doing’, doing anything, I’ll get through this”.

Looking back in reflection at 2023, from a place now, of moving through and out the other side (for now) I can see how much this sense of ‘Overwhelm’ was holding me back and creating anxiety, at a time I had assumed would be exciting and full of a sense of achievement (!). It was huge, HUGE. I’d have days where I literally felt frozen and unable to do anything effective. Overwhelm can be exhausting, leaves us feeling ‘stuck’ as mentioned already, and leave us unable to identify the correct action to take to navigate a problem, even leave us feeling inadequate. My year involved setting up two new businesses (never done that before), but more importantly I can see that the main driver was the fact that stepping into this “line of work” (for want of a better word), is a very ‘exposing’ experience, a process in and of itself of throwing up SO many more layers of ‘self work’ than you ever expect, only compounding that sense of unworthiness.

I share this, because as a Counsellor, I see that so many of us are feeling overwhelmed simply by our daily lives, even without attempting to create changes, a new business or trying new things. Our society throws evermore distractions and supposed requirements at us to fit in, to do, to stay up to speed with this trend, that trend, buy this, buy that…..no wonder trying to imagine a different way of living can feel so far from reach. If we know we’re not happy with the way our lives look, but feel overwhelmed as to how to go about change, no wonder stress & anxiety levels are rising fast.

Staying in the state of ‘Overwhelm’ leads to tension through mind & body, and for many of us I know its not an easy ‘feeling’ to acknowledge or even recognise. However, there are things we can do about it, and here are some of the ‘tools’ I love and used and perhaps can support you, if this resonates……throughout any of this, use patience, willingness and kindness to yourself, and notice what helps you….


OBSERVE & NOTICE how you experience ‘Overwhelm’…………..A useful thing is to recognise what your ‘behaviour’ traits are, what comes up as a result of feeling overwhelm. What do you do that keeps you in that place of not moving forward, not gaining clarity, not taking the necessary action or inability to focus?

Noticing the various ways that ‘Overwhelm’ plays out for us is a huge step towards working kindly with yourself, through it. Without this, we’re kinda getting bumped around in old thinking and habits, there’s an antagonistic inner talk, likely our inner critic is jumping up and down giving us what for! So, take a moment to ponder what your behaviours tend to be when you feel Overwhelmed? The reason I suggest this is because, once you can recognise your own personal ‘tendencies’ when in this state of mind, you give yourself the chance to address it rather than stay “in battle” with it. You give yourself choice.


PAUSE…..Once you notice yourself ‘procrastinating’ or ‘distracting’ yourself around a task/tasks you’ve become AWARE. You can then work within this awareness, because you’ve created some distance between yourself and the task at hand.

In the meantime, its quite a powerful tool to be able to laugh (kindly) at yourself. Not to berate yourself, or tell yourself off, simply have a little giggle because you ‘noticed’ and then see if you can find a way to sit with it, pause and acknowledge what is causing it and decide how to move forward from that place of intuition and connection. Perfect right action comes from your heart not your head….you gotta feel your way through, not think your way through and that requires the pause, and the ability to find some peace before taking action.


MOVE……..sometimes you just gotta get up and shift the energy. Take a walk, shake it out, go dance in the toilets at work, shake your hands and arms out, whatever is possible. Just move the body, move the energy and go back to it, with fresh eyes and perspective.


GET CURIOUS……we say this so much on a Roam Retreat, even I realise I didn’t fully appreciate & value this little ‘gem’ of a word or in this sense, a mindset…but its so important. A ‘curious’ mind is an ‘open’ mind. This means its open to new ideas, new solutions, inspirations without getting stuck in old anxieties and patterns of behaviour….so ask yourself ‘questions’ around the task, almost like an interview, imagine someone has come to help you with the task, what are they asking to help understand the problem, or the priorities?

Then allow the answers to come to you, they may not show up straight away but if our intention is to truly listen and allow inspiration and ideas to start flowing again…..with patience they will.


CREATE A CONSISTENT DAILY PRACTISE ….Yeah, yeah you might say…..easier said than done……and we agree, but it takes a building up of your daily practise (however that looks) to build that “Spiritual Muscle” that you can flex and tone for these exact moments. We are mind body AND spirit, and a daily practise (however short) is your way of connecting that part of you into your daily living. Your Spirit knows what you need, knows how to move through challenges, your mind is there once you are clear on the right action itself, but your Spirit is where the answers are, if you can just cultivate a willingness and the ability to listen in and hear your intuition. Because of this truth, a daily practise of some kind, is your support mechanism, and we may not always understand how it works, but somehow it does.

Then allow the answers to come to you, they may not show up straight away but if our intention is to truly listen and allow inspiration and ideas to start flowing again…..with patience they will.

Ultimately, my ‘cause’ of intense overwhelm was a combination of many things, old belief systems being challenged, stepping right out of my comfort zone in a ‘big’ way, expecting big results too soon (that was a big one!) are but a few to name. What I’ve learnt looking back this year is that the tools and techniques that I use with my clients, and share with guests on our retreat, they work! I ‘knew’ that already, but this ‘Knowing’ is a deepening that continues to grow. The doubt may still be there, we are all made up of more experiences than we can ever really know, but as the “Knowing” and the trust grows, the doubts & fears reduce, and for me, thats where the ‘ease’ is in life. My experiences only help me to share more authentically, as I continue to learn my own lessons, find the gifts and continue to work through those layers.

So, a little round up of my own specific “reflections” from this last year would be…..

  • understanding with more depth, that‘self love/self care’ is so important to nurture that part of me that isn’t quite up to speed on my new ideas/challenges!
  • “keep it simple”…..one thing at a time. This is clearly something we’ve all heard but try actually applying it and see the wisdom in this.
  • Take small steps each day and honour those….again, I knew this, but I wasn’t applying this to this situation, I was loading up the pressure to achieve big things. Lesson learnt.
  • “CELEBRATE” every damn thing you do do, each day! This is huge….from somebody who was always used to pushing myself in everything I took on, reaching a point where I had to practise this and grow into truly ‘feeling’ it, has been huge. I’d kinda cringe at this a few years back! Yet, how can we enjoy the journey if we aren’t willing to celebrate the small stuff…..you gotta let yourself enjoy it, until you allow yourself to, and release that perfectionist, it’ll always be that treadmill of struggle & pursuit.
  • “It too shall pass”….so true. Recognise the feeling, honour it allowing any resistance to be released, then once you feel ‘clearer’ take one small action to continue to move forward, and begin creating. It passes when we use our awareness to notice, watch it and allow it…only then can inspiration, intuition flow through and inspire us the right action to take.
  • Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable….this may sound like a cliche, but until we really truly allow ourselves to step up, step out and put ourselves outside our comfort zone, we can’t grow, we can’t evolve…..I’ve learnt alot this last year, I’ve grown from this….and now my tools have supported me to navigate it, I know, if the time comes, I can navigate it again if I feel that sense of overwhelm coming up. Because it will come and visit again, life is never a straight line, but with a deepened understanding comes more resilience and courage….more ease in difficult processes.

Finally….like all feelings, they come to everyone in varying degrees, and that will be so very dependant on a huge number of factors such as your experiences, your current support network, your resilience…..the list is endless. This is why kindness to yourself in every moment is so important. Each of us is unique, no two people’s experiences are the same. Similar maybe, but never the same. So, take what resonates and put to the side anything that right now, just dosen’t feel right for you….the above is a list of ideas and suggestions that helped me. They are also a huge part of Roam and how we, Hayley & I, navigate our days and our challenges, and hence what we share on our Retreats and in our writings. So, if you feel like joining us for some self enquiry to grow and nurture your own Awareness then pls do check out the retreats page on this website……..as we always say “everyone has the right to Thrive” and to do so is to find some ease in each and everyday. So, come explore with us?

Louise is a trained Metaphysical Counsellor & Facilitator …get in touch via louise@Roam-Retreats.com to discuss one to one sessions.

Roam Retreats hosts Retreats throughout the year, check out ‘retreats’ page on the website for our latest offerings.

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