5 Steps To Motivate Yourself When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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5 Steps To Motivate Yourself When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Overwhelm is a giant mountain hanging over you that stops you in your tracks. It feels like there are so many things that need your attention pulling you at once.

There are work things, home things, and possibly kid and family things. Your mind is racing and it feels impossible to even know where to begin.

When you look at it all, you freezes in place. How can you get moving?

RELATED: 9 Common Traits Of Highly Sensitive People Whose Emotions Can Feel Overwhelming

Maybe it feels like you should just sit down and watch Netflix!

So, how can you stop feeling overwhelmed and get the things done that need it?

Many people are experiencing something similar right now, especially with COVID-19 adding incredible uncertainty to life.

It's possible to get out from under the mountain of to-dos and begin moving again. But there are some simple ways to get yourself back in motion.

Here are 5 steps you can take to motivate yourself when you're feeling overwhelmed.

1. Stop.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, stopping to take stock is an important first step. It's impossible to see what you need to do when you're drowning in the mud.

Stop. Take a breath (maybe three). Check-in with your internal landscape. What's going on inside of you? Give that some space to be how it is.

Zoom out so that you can see the larger picture. If you were to do this in your mind’s eye, it might look like a camera lens zooming out.

2. List and prioritize.

Next, prioritize. Your list is huge like a mountain, but each stone that makes the mountain is an individual item.

Once you stop, take stock, zoom out, and breathe, you'll be better able to see the individual stones on the mountain. List them and mark them with a level of priority, A, B, C, or something similar.

You'll likely find that listing them helps you see that there are fewer things than you thought when looking at the entire mountain!

Prioritizing will help you have an order to how you tackle the tasks.

RELATED: 40 Overwhelmed Quotes About Being Burned Out To Help Cheer You Up

3. Let go of perfectionism.

Next, and this is my favorite: Uninvite perfection. Seeking perfection is part of what keeps you stuck in place and helps the mountain feel bigger and heavier.

You're likely your harshest critic.

Perfectionism often has its hooks in your feelings of worth and value. These are generally patterns you picked up as a child that have worked for you. Now though, perfectionism is keeping you stuck.

4. Honor the positive.

Honor and highlight the positives. Your internal monologue is likely tuned to the channel that criticizes the things that you haven’t done. This internal thought pattern keeps you stuck.

Notice the things that you have done... even if they feel small! Point them out to yourself. Honor them. Highlight them in your brain. Positive reinforcement works!

5. "Shoulding."

Finally, stop "shoulding" on yourself! When you tell yourself you "should" have done this, or "should" have done that, you make the mountain bigger than it needs to be.

Get into the present! What is real and true right now?

Shoulding argues with the reality in the present.

"It’s raining and I was supposed to go to the beach. It shouldn’t be raining," which makes you feel miserable versus saying, "It’s raining. What can I do instead?"

Highlight the positive and change your brain to notice the things you are doing, rather than the things you "should have" done but didn't. 

When you're under the mountain of overwhelm, it's possible to get moving again.

Implementing these simple steps will help you tackle your list and empower you to move forward once again. You got this!

RELATED: 23 Quotes To Help Calm You Down And Refocus When Life Becomes Too Overwhelming

Emy Tafelski, MA is a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of ME-Therapy, a counseling and therapy practice dedicated to helping you rediscover your authenticity, wholeness, and brilliant shine after the world knocks you down. ME-Therapy is also passionate about helping you recover the magic, love and connection in your relationships.