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Coping with overwhelm

Updated: Apr 3

There are many things happening in the world at the moment and in our lives that may be causing overwhelm.

We are living through probably the most uncertain economic climate that many will have ever seen. The cost of living crisis is affecting many of us both personally and professionally in terms of the impact on those we serve, while many organisations are still dealing with the impact of the last two years of the pandemic. There is much to feel concerned about.

These feelings of overwhelm can trigger a fight, flight or freeze response. It's important that we recognise that these are understandable responses to what's happening around us, and to remember that you are not on your own. More of us than ever at the moment are struggling with feeling overwhelmed in many areas of our lives.

The authors of this article from Harvard Business Review talk of how feelings of overwhelm are natural when 'the complexity of our world has surpassed our complexity of mind' (described in the book, Immunity to Change, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey).

Learning to cope with complexity and overwhelm and finding strategies to manage it are not just important for our own physical and mental wellbeing, but are also important leadership skills.

So, in addition to the tips shared in the Harvard article, here are a some simple suggestions of things to try if you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment:

  • Talk to someone who will listen, hear what you are saying and help you reflect on the root cause and what you might be able to do to tackle it.

  • Write and commit how you are feeling to paper. The simple act of writing it down can be very powerful - there's a lot of evidence to suggest that expressive writing such as journaling regularly can help us to manage stress and overwhelm in a healthy way.

  • Move - not countries (tempting as it can be)! but move away from 24hr news, social media etc get outside and allow yourself some time each day to move away from things.

Each of these can help to take away the power of overwhelm and help you plan a suitable response.

If we don't deal with overwhelm it can begin to have a very real impact on both our physical and mental health, so it's really important to take steps to deal with these feelings.

No one can do well on their own, and at Do-Well we are always here to provide a listening ear, so please do email me if you'd like to have a chat at

By Ken Perry

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