During the course of our lives, there are bound to be multiple times when life seems to pour it on a little thick. We end up overwhelmed, stressed and worn out.

The bad news: It’s inevitable.

The good news: There are ways to manage the overwhelm and alleviate the desire to go hide under a rock until it all just magically goes away.

Be Aware of the Struggle

First and foremost, you’ve got to realize that you are overwhelmed to be able to do anything about it. Often we blame a bad mood on any number of things when it’s actually because we are simply spent, mentally and physically. If you are in tune with your mind and body, you’ll hear it loud and clear when they scream “Enough is enough!”

Brain Purge

Instead of keeping everything in your head, hoping you’ll remember it all, try a brain purge. Do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, or an app on your tablet, laptop or phone for list-making. The important thing is to get it out, all of it.

Whatever is causing your sense of overwhelm, write it down. Work duties, home chores; once you see it in black and white it’s easier to organize and prioritize. Plus, it just feels good to get it out of your head. There’s an instant relief knowing you are handling it and it’s no longer stuck in the abyss of brain cells and adding to your stress.

Prioritize and Plan

This is the fun part. Now that you see it all in front of you, you can assess what really is important and what can be set aside for the time being. When the list is down to just the important things, start prioritizing; decide which needs attention immediately, which ones might take a long time and could be broken up into smaller tasks, and which ones you could hand off to someone else to take care of for you.

After you’ve got your life prioritized, the next part of this step is to plan out how you will accomplish each of these things. The idea is to put everything in bite-size chunks so it’s easier to swallow. If your tasks and goals are too large, it tends to be overwhelming. This leads to procrastination because we can’t figure out a reasonable angle to even approach our goals.

Take Action

The last step is to actually get going. To take action and get the ball rolling. Once you start moving it’s easier to keep moving. As you are able to knock off some things on your list, you gain confidence and begin to feel proud of the steps you’ve made.

The overwhelm feels more manageable, as does your task list. That initial boost in ego and feeling of control is a vital step, so it’s wise to start your task list with a couple of things you know you’ll be able to finish, or at least make a dent in, at the start of the day.

Your experience with overwhelm may be different than those around you, and that’s completely normal.

However, here are a few things to remember while you’re going through it and trying to climb your way out of the doom and gloom.

Let Go of the Past

Use past failures as stepping stones and not a roadblock. Learn from your mistakes and do your best to avoid them in the future, but don’t waste time beating yourself up over them.

Set Boundaries and Say NO When Necessary

You don’t have to let others load you up with their duties. It’s okay to say no. The person asking for your help most likely isn’t going to bat an eye at the rejection, so don’t fret. When you say no, their next thought is probably on who to ask next.

Get Organized

It’s nearly impossible to be productive and get things done efficiently when there is mass chaos all around you. Keep things organized as you go so there is less cleanup. Then choose one “organization” task to do daily that will take no more than 10 or 15 minutes to accomplish.

Use Time to Your Advantage

With a good time-management system, you will dominate your tasks and time. Some people like physical calendars and writing to-do’s down, others like tasking in digital calendars because you can set reminders and color code. Whatever works best for you and your lifestyle, do it. Utilize the tools you have at your disposal to master time… or time will master you!

Do Something You Love

Life gets hectic and out of control at times. It’s really just the way things go sometimes, but it brings us back to the basics. We have to take care of ourselves, mentally and physically, to put our best foot forward in life.

Make sure to take time out for yourself. You need to breathe, and your brain needs a break from the daily grind.

When life is beating you up and you’re feeling overwhelmed, fight back with these simple steps to get back on track. Overwhelm can feel paralyzing and seep its way into every corner of our lives. Arm yourself with the techniques for busting through the madness and mayhem!