Understanding the Meaning of Overwhelming: 5 to Finding Clarity in Chaos

by Fransic verso
Published: Updated: 36 comments
Meaning of Overwhelming

At some point in our lives, we have all experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed. Whether it’s due to a never-ending to-do list, a busy schedule, or unexpected life events, the weight of it all can leave us feeling drained and paralyzed. But have you ever stopped to think about the meaning of overwhelming?

It’s more than just a temporary state of mind; it’s a signal that we need to slow down and declutter our lives.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the meaning of overwhelming and explore ways to find clarity amidst the chaos.

Meaning of Overwhelming: A Closer Look

When we think of being overwhelmed, we often associate it with a feeling of being swamped or drowning in responsibilities.

But the meaning of overwhelming goes beyond just a temporary state of mind.

It is a signal that we need to take a closer look at our lives and find ways to declutter and regain clarity.

At its core, the Meaning of Overwhelming refers to a state in which we are faced with an excessive amount of tasks, information, or emotions that we feel unable to handle or process effectively.

It can leave us feeling paralyzed, drained, and disconnected from ourselves and the world around us.

Understanding the meaning of overwhelming is the first step toward finding a solution.

The sheer quantity of tasks

One aspect of overwhelming is the sheer quantity of tasks or responsibilities that we are faced with.

Whether it’s a never-ending to-do list at work or a chaotic household, the sheer volume of things to be done can quickly become overwhelming.

It’s like trying to juggle multiple balls in the air without dropping any.

The weight of these tasks can become a burden that consumes our thoughts and energy, leaving little room for anything else.

Another aspect of overwhelming is the emotional toll it takes on us.

It’s not just about the physical tasks; it’s also about the mental and emotional load that comes with them.

The constant pressure to perform, meet deadlines, and live up to expectations can be incredibly draining.

We may find ourselves constantly worrying, overthinking, and second-guessing ourselves.

This emotional exhaustion only adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Our own mindset

In addition to the external factors that contribute to overwhelm, our own mindset and perspective play a significant role.

Our thoughts and beliefs about our ability to handle stress, manage our time, and cope with challenges can either contribute to or alleviate feelings of overwhelm.

If we have a negative mindset and constantly tell ourselves that we are incapable or overwhelmed, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, if we adopt a growth mindset and believe that we have the ability to learn and adapt.

We can approach overwhelming situations with more resilience and resourcefulness.

Finding clarity

Understanding the meaning of overwhelming is the first step towards finding clarity amidst the chaos.

By recognizing the different aspects of overwhelming, we can begin to address them and take proactive steps towards decluttering our lives.


In the following sections of this blog post, we will explore the psychology of feeling overwhelmed, and practical steps to decluttering our lives.

Building resilience and coping strategies, and the power of self-care in combating overwhelm.

By delving deeper into each of these areas, we will equip ourselves with the tools and knowledge needed to find clarity and regain control over our lives.

So, let’s dive in and begin our journey towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Unpacking the Psychology of Feeling Overwhelmed

person at the offce workng
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

The feeling of overwhelm can be all-consuming. It’s like being lost in a dense fog, where it’s difficult to see a way forward or find any sense of clarity.

To truly understand and overcome overwhelm, we need to delve into the psychology behind this complex emotion.

Our innate need for control

One of the primary reasons why overwhelm occurs is because of our innate need for control.

As humans, we naturally seek order and predictability in our lives. We want to feel like we have a sense of agency over our circumstances.

However, when faced with an excessive amount of tasks, responsibilities, or emotions, that sense of control is shattered.

It’s as if we are drowning in a sea of chaos, unable to regain our footing.

Often exacerbated by our own internal dialogue and beliefs

Furthermore, overwhelm is often exacerbated by our own internal dialogue and beliefs.

We tend to place immense pressure on ourselves to succeed, meet deadlines, and live up to expectations.

This self-imposed pressure can be overwhelming in itself.

Our thoughts become a whirlwind of self-doubt, worry, and anxiety, feeding into the cycle of overwhelm.

We might even start questioning our abilities and doubting our capacity to handle stress.

Mental and emotional well-being

The impact of overwhelm on our mental and emotional well-being cannot be understated. It can lead to feelings of helplessness, exhaustion, and disconnection.

It becomes difficult to focus, make decisions, and prioritize.

Our minds become cluttered with a jumble of thoughts, making it challenging to find any sense of clarity.

We may feel like we’re running on autopilot, going through the motions without any true purpose or direction.

The fear of failure

Another psychological aspect of being overwhelmed is the fear of failure.

Also, We often fear the consequences of not being able to meet our responsibilities or obligations.

We worry about letting others down or falling short of expectations.

This fear of failure can become paralyzing, preventing us from taking any action at all. It’s a vicious cycle that only perpetuates the feeling of overwhelm.

In addition, being overwhelmed can be fueled by our need for perfectionism.

We want everything to be flawless, and when it’s not, we feel like we’ve failed.

This relentless pursuit of perfection leaves no room for error or flexibility.

It’s as if we’re walking on a tightrope, constantly teetering on the edge of collapse.

This constant pressure to be perfect creates a breeding ground for overwhelm.

Shift our perspective

To unravel the psychology of overwhelm, we need to shift our perspective and adopt a more compassionate mindset.

Instead of berating ourselves for feeling overwhelmed, we should recognize it as a natural response to challenging circumstances.

We can choose to let go of the need for control and embrace the uncertainty of life.

By accepting that we cannot do it all and that it’s okay to ask for help, we can alleviate some of the burden of overwhelm.

Practicing self-compassion and self-care

Additionally, practicing self-compassion and self-care is crucial in combating overwhelm.

We need to prioritize our well-being and create space for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Engaging in activities that bring us joy and allow us to recharge can help us regain a sense of balance and perspective.

Steps to Decluttering Your Life When You Feel Overwhelmed

woman stressing in the room
Photo by Aliaksei Lepik

Feeling overwhelmed can be paralyzing, but there are steps you can take to declutter your life and regain a sense of control.

These practical strategies can help you navigate through the chaos and find clarity amidst the overwhelm.

  1. Prioritize and organize:

    Start by making a list of all the tasks and responsibilities that are weighing you down.

    Break them down into smaller, manageable steps and prioritize them based on urgency and importance.

    Creating a to-do list can help you stay organized and focused on what needs to be done.

    Consider using tools such as digital calendars or task management apps to keep track of your tasks and deadlines.
  2. Delegate and ask for help:

    Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or colleagues who can lend a helping hand.

    Delegate tasks that can be done by others, freeing up your time and energy for more critical matters.

    Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness.
  3. Streamline and simplify:

    Take a critical look at your commitments and responsibilities. Are there any that you can eliminate or reduce?

    Are there tasks that can be delegated or outsourced?

    Simplifying your life by removing unnecessary obligations can create space for you to breathe and focus on what truly matters.
  4. Break it down:

    When faced with overwhelming tasks, break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

    Tackling one small task at a time can make the process feel less overwhelming and more achievable.

    Celebrate each small victory, as they will add up and motivate you to keep going.
  5. Set boundaries:

    Learn to say no to commitments that do not align with your priorities or values.

    It’s okay to decline requests that will stretch you too thin or add unnecessary stress to your life.

    Setting boundaries will help you protect your time and energy, allowing you to focus on what truly matters to you.
  6. Practice self-care:

    Taking care of yourself is essential when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

    Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.

    Make time for rest and rejuvenation to recharge your mind and body. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
  7. Practice mindfulness:

    Mindfulness can help you stay present and focused, reducing the impact of overwhelm.

    Take a few moments each day to practice mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, journaling, or mindful meditation.

    These practices can help calm your mind, increase your awareness, and provide clarity in the midst of chaos.
  8. Seek support:

    If overwhelm becomes chronic or significantly impacts your well-being, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

    Reach out to a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support.

    Talking to a professional can help you explore underlying issues and develop strategies to better cope with overwhelm.

Remember, finding clarity in chaos is a journey, not an overnight fix. It’s okay to have moments of overwhelm; it’s a natural part of life.

The key is to recognize it, acknowledge it, and take proactive steps to declutter your life and regain a sense of balance.

Building Resilience and Coping Strategies for Times of Overwhelm

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life, and it’s important to remember that you have the resilience and strength to overcome it.

Building resilience and developing coping strategies can help you navigate through times of overwhelm and come out stronger on the other side.

Cultivating a positive mindset

One essential aspect of building resilience is cultivating a positive mindset.

Instead of focusing on what’s overwhelming you, try to shift your perspective and focus on the things you can control.

Remember that setbacks and challenges are opportunities for growth and learning.

By adopting a growth mindset, you can view overwhelming situations as stepping stones to becoming a more resilient and adaptable person.

Developing effective coping strategies

Another key aspect of building resilience is developing effective coping strategies.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s essential to find healthy and productive ways to manage stress and emotions.

One effective coping strategy is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness techniques.

Such as Deep breathing exercises or mindful meditation, can help you stay present, reduce anxiety, and improve focus.

Taking a few moments each day to engage in mindfulness practices can provide clarity and calm in the midst of chaos.

Healthy outlets for stress and emotions

Additionally, finding healthy outlets for stress and emotions is crucial in building resilience.

Engaging in physical activity, such as exercise or yoga, can help release tension and boost your mood.

Take regular breaks throughout the day to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

Such as reading a book or listening to music, can also help reduce overwhelm and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Not about trying to do it all alone

It’s important to remember that building resilience is not about trying to do it all alone.

Seeking support from others can greatly enhance your ability to cope with overwhelm.

Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups who can offer a listening ear, advice, or encouragement.

Sharing your feelings and experiences with others can provide validation and reassurance that you’re not alone in your struggles.

Practicing self-care is essential in building resilience and combating overwhelm.

Self-care means taking intentional time for yourself to nourish your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

This can include activities such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, practicing relaxation techniques, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

Prioritizing self-care sends a powerful message that you value your well-being and deserve to be taken care of.

The Power of Self-Care in Combating Overwhelm

In the midst of feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget about our own well-being.

We tend to prioritize everyone and everything else, leaving ourselves last on the list.

However, practicing self-care is not only crucial but also powerful in combating overwhelm and finding clarity amidst the chaos.

  • Nourish your physical, emotional, and mental well-being

    Self-care involves taking intentional time for yourself to nourish your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

    It’s about recognizing your needs and making them a priority.

    While it may feel counterintuitive to focus on yourself when there are so many other demands vying for your attention, self-care is not selfish.

    In fact, it’s essential for your overall health and ability to cope with overwhelm.
  • Enough rest and sleep

    One aspect of self-care is ensuring you’re getting enough rest and sleep.

    Sleep deprivation can significantly impact your mood, cognitive abilities, and overall well-being.

    Make it a priority to establish a consistent sleep routine and create a restful environment.

    Set boundaries with technology, allowing yourself time to unwind and relax before bed.

    By prioritizing quality sleep, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and better equipped to handle the challenges of the day.
  • Nourishing your body with nutritious food

    Another crucial aspect of self-care is nourishing your body with nutritious food.

    When we’re overwhelmed, it’s common to resort to quick, unhealthy food options or even skip meals altogether.

    However, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining energy levels and supporting our mental and emotional well-being.

    Take the time to plan and prepare nutritious meals that fuel your body and mind.

    Make sure to include a balance of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Engaging in regular physical activity

    This is also a powerful form of self-care. Exercise has numerous benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting energy levels.

    Find activities that you enjoy and that fit into your schedule.

    It could be a brisk walk, a yoga class, or a dance session in your living room. The key is to move your body in a way that feels good for you.

    Not only will you reap the physical benefits, but you’ll also experience a release of endorphins that will elevate your mood and reduce feelings of overwhelm.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques

    This is another important component of self-care. This could involve deep breathing exercises.

    Progressive muscle relaxation, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation, such as taking a warm bath or practicing mindfulness meditation.

    These techniques can help calm your mind, reduce anxiety, and bring a sense of peace and clarity in the midst of overwhelm.

    Find what works best for you and incorporate it into your daily routine.
  • Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation

    Additionally, engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation is a powerful form of self-care.

    Whether it’s reading a book, listening to music, pursuing a hobby, or spending time in nature, find activities that replenish your soul.

    Carve out dedicated time for these activities, even if it’s just a few minutes each day.

    Allow yourself to fully immerse in the present moment and savor the joy that these activities bring. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary for your well-being.
  • Not a one-time event

    Finally, remember that self-care is not a one-time event; it’s a continuous practice. It requires commitment and consistency.

    Prioritize yourself and your well-being, even when life feels overwhelming.
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Aditi Jain August 30, 2022 - 9:53 am

This article came at such a great time. Wanted to declutter for a while. Thanks for sharing this

Mummy Conquering Anxiety August 30, 2022 - 9:53 am

Such great tips. I like the smaller tasks and start off slowly. That's how I basically run my life now. Small building blocks.

Fransic Verso August 30, 2022 - 9:54 am

Thank you so much!! I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts!

Fransic Verso August 30, 2022 - 9:55 am

That's awesome, I'm glad to know that.

Fransic Verso August 30, 2022 - 9:56 am

I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts!

Anonymous August 30, 2022 - 9:53 am

Excellent post. I really appreciate your suggestions and enjoyed reading. ????Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)

Bedabrata September 1, 2022 - 7:32 am

Thank you for the useful Post. I get overwhelmed with clutter and need something like this to get going. I am rooting for point 1. I start with easy stuff. Also I play some music, helps me relax.

Anonymous September 1, 2022 - 7:32 am

I find decluttering can be quite overwhelming at times so I like to do it in short sessions so I don’t become too stressed! You’ve shared some really great tips here which I’ll for sure be putting to good use. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Xo

Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

Ntensibe Edgar September 1, 2022 - 7:32 am

Nnniiiccceeeeee…these days, I take more breaks and meditate than I have ever done before. It's working in my favour.

Jennifer Prince September 1, 2022 - 7:32 am

Meditating is so important, and it's a great way to refresh. Even if it's only for 5 minutes, it can really do wonders!

The Think Good Factor September 1, 2022 - 7:32 am

Great ideas! I find meditation to be wonderful but for me it's through the means of yoga that really helps me connect with the present and my body. I also loved the doing short and easy tasks, I tell myself to just wash the dishes and put them away and just doing that helps me a lot.

Rose September 1, 2022 - 7:32 am

I really need to declutter my bedroom before I go back to uni! Definitely going to use your tips and start with small chunks :)

Anonymous September 2, 2022 - 10:30 pm

Decluttering is so important- just feels so much better!

Cristina Rosano September 2, 2022 - 10:30 pm

These are all amazing and helpful tips to help when overwhelmed! I think as you said starting with smaller tasks and also taking a break can be hufe dealbreaker!

Beth L September 16, 2022 - 7:22 pm

It's important to know when you need to step back from decluttering. Clutter can definitely be overwhelming. But it's such a freeing feeling once everything is in it's place.

Stephanie September 16, 2022 - 7:22 pm

For me it really helps to take things in small steps. Divide a task into small easy to complete tasks and it helps feel like you are getting things done.

Ben September 16, 2022 - 7:22 pm

These are excellent tips. When I'm feeling overwhelmed with cleaning, I find it easier to start with things that I can do quickly and easily.

nishitak September 20, 2022 - 4:15 am

I try to do a little bit at a time, take breaks, so it all doesn't become too tedious!

nishitak September 20, 2022 - 4:15 am

One solution that I have found works for me is to do a little bit at a time. If the pile of clothes to fold is too much, just do a bit, then do something else, and then come back to it.

I tend to switch between folding clothes, washing vessels, and putting them away, and the change helps it not be too tedious.

Marky Ramone Go September 20, 2022 - 4:15 am

Great lists of useful tips in decluttering. Yes, I get too overwhelmed whenever I try to declutter.

tweenselmom September 26, 2022 - 4:47 am

I feel this from time to time and when I do, I really resist the urge to be overcome by it.

Anonymous November 4, 2022 - 12:15 am

Excellent tips – I came across this article just as I am trying to declutter my home office area. I will keep this article in mind so as not to become frustrated. Stephanie

Beth November 4, 2022 - 12:15 am

Doing a little bit at a time has always been the recipe for success for me. If I try to go too hard, I get overwhelmed and just quit.

Fransic Verso November 4, 2022 - 12:17 am

I'm glad you find them excellent tips. I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts!

Anonymous November 5, 2022 - 12:12 am

Avoid Unnecessary thoughts while declutter! I LOVE that point!! Totally helps to stay much more focused on the task at hand

Neely November 5, 2022 - 12:12 am

Meditation is so good! I feel so great when I do it!

Nyxie November 5, 2022 - 12:12 am

This is such a big one! 2022 has been so overwhelming for a lot of people, even more so than 2020 and 2021! I find that decluttering often helps create space and tidy your living area, leaving room for your process your mental health.

Cinny November 5, 2022 - 12:12 am

I agree that prioritizing helps. It's always nice to cut it into smaller pieces to do.

Fransic Verso November 5, 2022 - 12:24 am

I'm glad that you agree with that. Thank you for reading!

Fransic Verso November 5, 2022 - 12:25 am

Yeah, it does help a lot. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

Fransic Verso November 5, 2022 - 12:25 am

That's great! It's a great thing to do. Thank you for reading!

Fransic Verso November 5, 2022 - 12:27 am

We don't have to deal with unnecessary thoughts. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Christian Foremost November 7, 2022 - 1:28 am

Thank you for these helpful tips. I'm guilty of taking on overwhelming tasks even if I am aware that I'm only just one person. HAHAHA

Fransic Verso November 7, 2022 - 1:51 am

Haha, it's ok but just make sure to take a break and ensure keep the work flow.

tweenselmom November 11, 2022 - 10:20 pm

where will we be without decluttering? it's unavoidable to make a mess and so we have to make time to clean up

Fransic Verso November 11, 2022 - 10:22 pm

I agree we need it a lot in our life. Thank you for reading!


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