Depression: Dealing With Overwhelmedness

Depression and feeling overwhelmed go hand-in-hand. Depression in itself is overwhelming because it affects every aspect of your life. It causes us to question our own abilities, skills, relationships and worth.

Overwhelmedness is stifling and can stop us from taking any action at all. We fear failure, we fear rejection and we quite frankly, we don’t always have the energy to get going. We can find ourselves in a vicious circle – no faith in our abilities and no energy can exacerbate guilt and shame.

On the other hand, you may never feel good enough and so push yourself to achieve. Saying yes to all demands placed on you until you have nothing left to give. To others. To yourself. You realise you’re running on empty, yet you just. Can’t. Stop.

Being overwhelmed also means that making decisions is nigh on impossible. There’s just not enough headspace left for those and ‘decision fatigue’ becomes a real nuisance.

We understand how scary it can be to look into the future when you’re feeling overwhelmed, even looking at the day ahead can be daunting. Here are our tips for dealing with that:

“When things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting.” – Anonymous


Prioritise Self-Care

Your needs are important. Your tank needs to be full before you can start dishing your resources around will-nilly. It feels selfish but it’s not. It’s vital to your health and wellbeing. When we don’t take time out for self-care, illness sets in and demands we stop. This cycle can be avoided if we just put aside a slice of time each and every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, it’s surprising what the power of a 10 minute meditation or 10 minute bubbly bath can do for you. Your needs are important.

Gain Perspective

Talk it over with someone you trust. Lean a little. Who can you ask for help? When we’re feeling low, we don’t like to ask for help. Fear of being a burden, fear of rejection and also a lack of confidence can stop us in our tracks and make us carry on alone. Quite often, we’re surrounded by people who would be more than happy to help. They just don’t know you need help unless you ask. When you’re exhausted and burnt out, everything can feel urgent. Talking to someone about what’s overwhelming you can also help you to gain perspective. Are things as urgent as they seem? Whose standards and expectations are you trying to meet. The only approval you need, is your own. 

Start Saying ‘No’

Stop saying ‘yes’ to everything. When you say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything, you’re quite often saying ‘no’ to your needs. Being everything to everyone, often leaves us with nothing for ourselves. When you start respecting the value of your time and energy, others start to respect it more too. When you do pluck up the courage to say ‘no’, don’t offer a reason, it’s not needed (you’ll feel as though it is, but it’s really not). If ‘no’ is too much of a step for you, try replying with ‘I’ll need to check my diary’ or ‘can I get back to you’. You’re not letting anyone down by saying no. It’s a choice you’ve chosen. That’s all. You will feel resistance when you start saying ‘no’. It will go against your desire to people-please/gain external approval. Sit with it. Breathe through it and it will become easier over time.

Batch Similar Tasks

We’re not talking multi-tasking. Far from it. Multi-tasking can add to overwhelmedness – you start doing several tasks at once, do none of them particularly well and end up feeling exhausted and frustrated.

When we say ‘batch tasks’, we mean lumping together similar tasks so that they take up less headspace and energy. For example, brush your teeth in the shower whilst you’re waiting for your conditioner to get to work. Perhaps there are chores you can lump together to save time and precious headspace. Instead of answering emails as and when they come in, can you set two times during the day when you’ll sit and focus on responding to emails?

It might also help to turn off all notifications on your phone so that you can dip into Facebook/Twitter/Emails/Snapchat/Whatsapp/Instagram when it suits you. Not when some flashing/vibrating notification tells you to.

Set Realistic Expectations

Depression quite rightly limits us, just as other illnesses might limit us, albeit in different ways. With that in mind, are you expecting to get things done in an impossible timeframe? Are there gazillion tasks on your list per day? Would you expect the same of someone else? Realistic expectations help you to achieve a feeling of success, instead of setting yourself up for disappointment. It also helps you to commit to your goals and feel motivated. Try limiting your list to just a few things a day and spend a moment considering whether it looks realistic or not. Sometimes scrapping the list is the sensible thing to do if you’re really struggling. You can always add more if you find you have time/energy/inclination to spare.


Feeling overwhelmed is quite often a sign that we have been charging full steam ahead for too long. It’s a sign that we haven’t been taking enough time out. Time to rest, recoup and relax. It feels counter-productive to just stop but that space away can help to give you much needed headspace which in turn helps you with perspective. Time away can re-energise and clear the way for solutions you might have over-looked in your overwhelmed state.

Do you have any tips you can share? If so, please let us know in the comments below.

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