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Feeling Overwhelmed? Take a Moment. It's Brave Business

Of Course, You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

I’m writing this on Thanksgiving morning. I’m posting it on Black Friday. The holiday frenzy is officially kicking off. And…you know what? I feel a sense of dread around me.

Clients seem anxious. Colleagues have this sense of harried intensity. It seems like everyone is feeling overwhelmed. And what’s worse is they seem to be rrrreally guilty about it. Especially my business coaching clients.

See, a good business coach talks in a kind of “get-it-done” lingo. So that’s a lot of my output. “Here’s what you need to do. Now, let’s do it!” Most of the time that’s what’s needed - a little kick in the patoot.

But when overwhelm hits, some clients are embarrassed to admit that they want to hide from work. Not only are they feeling overwhelmed, but they’re also feeling bad about it.

So…Let Me Say This Clearly

You are not a weenie for being overwhelmed. I hear you. I see you. This is real.

Of course, you’re overwhelmed.

My friend, it would be so bizarre if you didn’t feel overwhelmed sometimes.

The holidays in general are a time of expectation and stress. The current state of the world is pressing on anyone with a brain, anyone with a heart. And the fact that you’re an entrepreneur? That just compounds the sense of “too much, not enough.”

That’s the basic recipe for overwhelm.

I talk a lot about brave business. But I want to clarify what brave business is not. It’s not about being a robot or never taking time for mental health.

Brave business is about remembering what matters and what works in the long run - and honoring both. So, when I say “get it done” that means self-care too.

In this blog, I want to discuss the signs that you could be feeling overwhelmed. We’ll outline ways to cope with it and - most of all - how to show yourself a little compassion.

This blog is my holiday offering of support just for you, my friend. It’s the blog version of a blanket, a hug, and a cup of cocoa. So. Take a seat. Relax. Let me get this.

The Blame Game

I guess we should talk about whose fault this is. It’s got to be someone’s fault, right?

Hmmm…let’s think.

You’re the one not posting as much on LinkedIn. You’re the one cutting back on your appointments. You spent all last night watching Netflix in your pajamas while ignoring emails. Sounds like you’re the problem.


Your appetite for accountability is great, but it might be screwing you up here. Overwhelm - even in the best of times - is human. And it’s certainly inevitable when you prioritize goal achievement, building your dream business, being there for others, and positive global impact.

You’re overwhelmed because you care and because you do things.

So instead of blaming yourself for feeling, maybe you should be proud of yourself for caring. Give yourself a freaking break.

Also, excessive self-blame just results in more overwhelm and more difficulty functioning. Ironically, it’s by giving yourself blame-free permission to feel crappy that’s gonna empower you to respond in a healthier way.

“Never blame yourself for experiencing negative emotions,” cautions Berkley’s awesome Greater Good Science Center, “It is important to acknowledge that it is your right to feel how you do. In doing so, acknowledge that you also have control over your reactions. This can help you to feel more in control and more empowered to work toward more positive coping mechanisms.”

So easy does it on the self-blame. It doesn’t make you a better business person. It just makes you worse at Life.

Triggers and Symptoms of Overwhelm

So why are you overwhelmed? It’s worth asking the question and getting specific.

Feeling overwhelmed can come from loss, workload, money issues, or maybe the constant news that the world’s burning down. It can come from the feeling that you’re falling short of expectations. You have to manage some project, some challenge, some problem…and you’re simply powerless to get it all the way done.

These triggers can be a load on your mind, heart, and body. According to Clinical Psychologist Sabrina Romanoff and VeryWell Mind feeling overwhelmed can lead to a host of ick symptoms.

Stuff like:

  • Mental paralysis and procrastination

  • Withdrawal from loved ones.

  • Dark moods - irritability, crying easily, pessimism

  • Decision fatigue

  • Trouble focusing

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Headaches

  • Upset stomach

  • Big reactions to small things

  • Dizziness

  • Aches and pains

  • General sense of guilt and resentment

So, What Do You Need Right Now?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we should immediately administer some emotional first aid.

First, accept that you feel like crap. Don’t try to put a smile on it and pretend. Just acknowledge that you’re not in a great place.

Breathe deeply - seriously - do some deep breathing. It really helps. And give yourself permission to step away from the work.

Trust me. I’m a business coach. You can step back from the business.

Give yourself some time on the couch, in your pajamas, watch an old sitcom, eat some chocolate. Basically, let yourself be comforted for a moment. Don’t get lost in it, but do it.

I’d definitely recommend shutting off the news and dropping the phone and social media.

Writing It Out

Once you’ve had a little cozy time, open a notebook. Write in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way about feeling overwhelmed. Talk about why you feel overwhelmed and what it feels like.

Don’t edit. Don’t try to make it sound beautiful. Just write-vomit on the page. Just this step can let out a lot of air. The release of letting it all be said is almost like an exorcism.

And the inventory can surprise you.

You could discover that the hundreds of problems you had in your head aren’t really the problem. It’s just that one commitment that you hate. It’s making everything else feel impossible.

A good writing binge can make you feel ten pounds lighter and make the truth more accessible.

If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed, Consider a “No” List

Protecting your time and space is essential to sustaining health and balance. So, The National Council for Mental Wellbeing suggests a “No” list to help you avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed.

While you’re sitting on the couch, make a list of things you don’t want to do. Those things that sound harmless in the moment, but make you feel trapped. Being a bridesmaid, babysitting for your sister, attending a client’s Christmas party, whatever.

Make it a rule that, from now on, you just don’t do this kind of thing. Nothing personal, you just don’t do that.

I have a friend who doesn’t go to theatre around the holidays anymore. December is too hard, she doesn’t like it, and too many of her friends are actors. So, it’s a rule now. She doesn’t have to explain it or decide in the moment anymore.

It’s a boundary and a relief not to have to consider it every time.

Talk It Out, Hug It Out

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you need to tuck into your private place for a while - do it. But then reach out to someone you trust.

This is not the time to sink into isolation. Find that one friend and tell them how you’re feeling.

In fact, if you feel safe and comfortable asking, you really should ask for a hug. Studies suggest that just the physical touch of someone you trust can short-circuit a lot of pent-up pain.

This might be the most important step to get through this, folks. Talk. Hug.

Feeling overwhelmed is almost always linked to the feeling that you're holding up the world alone. The embrace of a loved one, the unloading of your thoughts to someone you trust is the surest ways to accelerate healing.

You Are Brave

The point is that putting on a brave face isn’t as brave as you think.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed the bravest thing you can do is to check out for a moment and find the help you need.

We’re not building a business just to build a business. Right? This is about Living. If you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s worth asking yourself “what does ‘Living’ mean?”

Create space for some self-compassion.

Be a good steward of your most valuable asset, YOU.

Being brave is about facing things as they are.

You are a human being.

Attend to that. If you do, we can work the rest out. I promise.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed building your business I can help!

You don’t have to be in this alone.

Come hang out with me on LinkedIn for a few laughs and a dose of perspective!


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