5 Ways to Overcome Being Overwhelmed
In Luke 10:38-42, Martha of Bethany was hosting Jesus in her home. Her sister Mary also lived there with her and while Martha was preparing a meal for her special guest, she was not helping. Instead, she was sitting at the feet of Jesus while He taught. Martha was overwhelmed and felt it was unfair that her sister was not helping her, but Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the best thing.
Martha had a servant’s heart and truly wanted to please Jesus, but she got so caught up in all the preparation details that she was missing out on the most important thing: spending time with Him! How often do we do that? How often do we get overwhelmed by all the “good” things we’re doing? How often do we miss out on the best things because we are distracted and anxious about the details?
There are many times that I become overwhelmed with life in general. Things that need to be done are always on the front on my mind. Finding the time to do them is just so hard. It seems impossible to accomplish all the tasks that need to be done in a day, week, or month.
I’ll be the first to say that many areas in my life suffer when I get overwhelmed including my homemaking, my blogging, my relationships, etc. I feel conquered by my to do list that takes over my time and I can’t even get proper rest. Why do we as women do that? Why do we put so much of a demand on ourselves? This feeling of being overwhelmed is actually a common symptom of anxiety. I didn’t realize this because I thought worry was anxiety and I didn’t think I was worrying about anything. But in reality I was anxious about everything I needed to get done and instead of accomplishing anything, I was just overwhelmed by it all.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NASB
So what do we do when we feel overwhelmed?
1) Seek God’s will first.
The first thing I plan to do before tackling anything is to pray and ask God what His will is. I want to seek Him first and make sure that I am choosing the best things and not just the good things. It amazes me how when I look to God first for what He wants me to do, everything else just falls into place. When I am faithful and seek Him with all my heart, there is always enough time to do what needs to be done today. Anything else can wait for another day. That leads us to…
2) Set your priorities.
Accept that you can only do so much in the time you have. We all have the same amount of time in a day. This week I looked back over my priorities. I added up the amount of time it would take to accomplish tasks that need to be done and it was just so eye-opening. It’s impossible to do everything I want to do in the time I want to do it, so I need to focus on what’s in front of me just today.
3) Start with the first thing.
Sometimes when I look at a to do list I get overwhelmed right at the start and don’t know what to do first. So instead of just having a to do list, divide your tasks up into categories of your priorities and start with the first thing. Don’t think about the other stuff until you accomplish the first thing. Then start with the second thing and so on.
4) Be intentional.
I notice when my mind is so full of things I’m thinking about doing that I miss out on the present. I don’t want my mind to be elsewhere when I’m trying to spend time with my husband or when I’m trying to focus on a task. It takes too much mental energy to constantly be thinking about everything. So I plan to be more intentional in the moment. When I’m working on a task or spending time with my husband, I need to cut out other distractions and make the best of that time.
5) Reward yourself.
Some people find that having a reward helps to motivate them to accomplish certain tasks they don’t quite enjoy. For instance, I hate doing dishes and most cleaning in general and I tend to procrastinate when they need to be done. But I told myself recently that if I just accomplished A, B, and C that I could do something more enjoyable like read or work on a sewing project. It really helped motivate me to do the work that needed to be done and do it in good time so I could get to something I enjoyed. This is something parents usually do with their kids. They have to finish their homework or chores before getting to play. We can utilize this “reward system” to help us accomplish those things we don’t necessarily enjoy.
As long as we keep our eyes fixed on God and what He would have us do, our lives will be more peaceful and we won’t feel overwhelmed like we do when we try to do it on our own.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” Isaiah 26:3 NLT
Let’s be sure to always put God first and seek His will. Then everything else will fall into place.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
If you have any more tips to overcome being overwhelmed, please share them in the comment section!