As the world has come to a standstill, roles and tasks that were previously compartmentalized now exist in a shared space without boundaries. Working parents have suddenly become teachers, playmates, and employees simultaneously. Family members are seemingly held captive in close quarters with each other, while friends are isolated from one another. With the added fact that we don’t know how long the situation is going to last, it can feel like the onslaught is endless. You may find yourself asking, “Where does one thing end and the next begin?”

With the lines blurred, a lot of us are in the state of being emotionally and mentally overwhelmed. 

Being overwhelmed is a silent and silencing beast. Even when you think you’re being strong, it can creep up slowly until it builds up to a point where you are overcome with it. It can also come suddenly that it feels like you’re drowning, as a wave of pressure pushes and holds you down. No matter how it starts, you end up being unable to breathe, think, choose, and act. 

Being emotionally and mentally overwhelmed is difficult to deal with but we must conquer it. If you ever find yourself in this state, here’s what you can do. 


First things first: Stop.
Literally, just stop. Stop everything you’re doing. Stop moving. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Stop working. Stop trying to fix things.

Just stop. 

When we become still, we can breathe. When we breathe, we give our brains enough oxygen to realize that we are not drowning in overwhelm

Take a deep breath in, then slowly release. Repeat until you feel calm and relaxed.

Second, make your body comfortable.
Overwhelm tends to trigger our fight, flight, or freeze response. Sometimes, we begin to rush through scenarios and potential solutions at a pace that increases the heart rate and body temperature so that we are left flushed and perspiring. Other times, we freeze in fear. When the latter happens, the blood vessels tend to constrict and we start to feel cold.

When we bring comfort to the body, we are sending a signal to the mind that we are safe. Once we start to feel safe, then the brain can start to shut down our body’s defense systems. 

Sit in a cool or warm place (depending on what you need) that is quiet and has subtle and ambient lighting. Balanced temperature, comfortable silence, and dim lighting are all triggers for the body’s relaxation response.

Third, write down your thoughts.
Thoughts left in the mind tend to stay there and clutter it even as new thoughts come in. Furthermore, the mind tends to paint what we can’t see to be bigger and scarier than it actually is. Because of these reasons, it is best to commit our thoughts on paper. It’s okay if it’s messy. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.

Write manually with a pen and paper as this best appeals to both our visual and kinesthetic senses. When the brain sees and feels the thoughts on paper for safekeeping, it can relax knowing it hasn’t forgotten or lost anything.


Once we’ve stopped to breathe, made the body comfortable, and emptied the mind of disturbing thoughts, we’ve created a scenario where the mind and body can reboot. When we reset, we allow ourselves to relax and start again from a place of power. When we are empowered, we are not overwhelmed.