What to do when you feel overwhelmed

I can't tell you how many times someone has blamed their lack of commitment, and ultimately their health, on how busy they are.

We're all busy. I think it comes down to feeling overwhelmed.

Here are 5 thoughts and tips to help you beat that drowning feeling.

1) Reframe the problem.

Instead of blaming your health/fitness (or lack there of) on your busy life, how about re-framing it to:

"I have too much going on to not feel my best as often as possible."

How we feel impacts every aspect of our life. And how we feel is largely determined by how we eat, move and rest.

Realizing this is a significant advantage. When we take care of our health, it truly makes it easier to handle everything else. The ultimate productivity tool is health. Trying to be super efficient is nothing compared to a healthy mind and body.

Whenever someone tells me they're overwhelmed and stressed, I always encourage them to double down on foundational things like eating well, exercising, sleeping, etc.

Ultimately, feeling overwhelmed = feeling powerless.

Too often we give up what we're most in control of like our eating, exercise, sleeping, etc., but that only perpetuates our feelings of powerlessness.

[Unfortunately people don't always heed that advice. When they do, they always snap back to feeling more in control and less overwhelmed quickly. Yet, sadly, guess what happens when I check in with clients who quit the program too soon because they had so much going on and life was "crazy"? (When is life ever not crazy?) They still feel out of control and overwhelmed.]

2) How to win the day.

"That sounds good, Adam. But seriously, I'm really overwhelmed. I can't focus on my health right now."

Here's what I've been doing for many years and it's worked great. It's helped a lot of people as well.

I allow myself to win the day. WTF does that mean?

People beat themselves up for not doing more. In fact, it often stops them from doing anything at all. It's nice to walk around with a smile on your face.

Winning the day means I get done what I set out to do. I can rest easy and without guilt.

How many times have you "relaxed" while thinking about all of the things you should be doing. It's an awful feeling.

Solution: Every night, I write down the 3-5 things I plan to get done for the next day. If I get those things done, I'll feel accomplished. I'll be able to rest easy.

It's important that we give ourselves the ability to feel accomplished for the day VS guilty for all that we didn't do.

Fun fact: I used to put a lot of pressure on myself in school. I felt like I could always be doing more.

I was always happiest after an exam because I finally felt like I could relax for a bit.

It's why I couldn’t wait to get into the working world so that when I was done with work for the day, I was done with work for the day.


Living in the hyperconnected world we live in is like school 24/7/365. We can always be doing more. That feeling can drive you crazy. You'll always feel overwhelmed.

3) Realize that there is always more.

"But I have so much to do. 3-5 things per day isn't enough."

The interesting thing is that the people who say this aren't accomplishing anything meaningful because...they're so overwhelmed.

I'm talking about 3-5 things that matter and/or move the needle on something that does.

The reality is: There's a billion things we can do every day. We're never going to get to the bottom of our to-do list in life/work ever.

4) Write everything down.

I believe that our mind is designed to think of new things...

Not the same things over and over.

If something needs to get done, or I think of something, I immediately write it down -- otherwise, it takes up precious mental energy.

5) Ask yourself this question.

The chronically overwhelmed people think, "If only I could be more productive!"


The first step to being more productive is to understand what causes you to become unproductive.

Ask yourself this question right now: When is the last time I felt really productive after indulging and/or lounging around?

6) Is the trade worth it?

Pinterest founder, Ben Silbermann, recently said this when advising entrepreneurs:

"Working all the time at the expense of your health is not a good strategy because if you’re actually going to go after something for a long time as an entrepreneur, having your health in tact turns out to be really important. And a lot of the folks who have burned out did so not because they ran out of money. They burnt out because they became really unhealthy."

It turns out, focusing on your health will not only help your business and work (this doesn't only apply to entrepreneurs) but also help you feel less overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our health people beat themselves up for not doing more and/or not being "perfect". In fact, it often stops them from doing anything at all.

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