How do you cope with feeling overwhelmed?


By Rebecca Marks | Author, Founder & Wellbeing Coach


In our fast-paced, always-on, busy-glorifying society, it’s clear feeling overwhelmed is a universal struggle. So too is the self-inflicted pressure we put on ourselves. Perfectionism—defined as “as a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations”—is officially on the rise. Our growing perfectionistic tendencies have also been identified as a key driver of depression and anxiety in millennials. As Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK, explains:

“Individuals who experience high functioning anxiety are often very driven, high achievers who set incredibly high standards for themselves. They can find themselves constantly striving for perfection in everything they turn their hand to.”

When we feel overwhelmed from both external and internal pressures, it’s like we’re signalling to our brain that our demands outweigh our resources. Our brain interprets this as danger, and we risk triggering the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ stress response.

If it goes on long enough, we might start experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety (such as breathing difficulties, heart palpitations, headaches and IBS), as well as increasingly low mood and energy.

The key to preventing this is to develop our mental wellbeing skills.

Without mental wellbeing skills, we may find ourselves resorting to our natural instinct: to do nothing and withdraw (remember: it’s called the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response).

Recognising our tendency to freeze is the first step in developing our helpful response strategy. Once we recognise we’re in the stress response, we can mindfully choose what we do next.

Insights from my community for how to stop feeling overwhelmed could be summarised into four key areas:

  1. The One-Focus Mindset

  2. The Can-Control Mindset

  3. Practising Relaxation

  4. Expressing Feelings 

I will be doing a deep dive into these 4 keys areas in my up coming posts to really help you understand how you can use these as techniques to stay in the moment. Check back here next week where I’ll be talking about The One-Focus Mindset.


Rebecca Marks | Author, Founder & Wellbeing Coach

Hi! I’m Rebecca, author of The Framework: Understanding, Transforming and Reducing Stress, Autostress and Anxiety (The Fluff-Free Guide) and founder of The Wellness Society, a social enterprise dedicated to helping people improve their mental wellbeing and build healthy habits.