When I Feel Like I’m Drowning, Here’s How I Handle It

Some days, I feel like I'm drowning.

It's a restless, uncomfortable sensation

There are times in life when challenges and obstacles feel so overwhelming, I feel like I'm drowning. The weight of the world is pressing down on me, and the responsibilities keep building with no end in sight.

You know the feeling. It's not a pretty one, either. That stress sits on you like a big bully pinning you down and demanding your lunch money.

When we encounter this growing sense of stress and overwhelm, it's important to take care of it right away. I'll show you how I swim to shore (and get past that drowning feeling), even when it doesn't feel possible.


Here's how I handle that "drowning" feeling

1. Stop, drop, and roll!

When you're on fire, the general rule of thumb is to stop freaking out, drop to the floor, and roll until the flames subside.

Stress can make us feel frantic, much like being on fire (what a sentence to write).

When that panic begins to set in, I force myself to stop whatever I'm doing. I'll only stop for a couple of minutes, and whatever work I'm doing is not productive, anyway.

Once I've done this, I move forward to the next step.

2. I do something that replenishes my energy.

I learned this trick from my mom when I was a kid stressing my way through school, and it still helps me today.

When I find myself getting frustrated and flustered, sometimes I find my mood sinks into annoyance mode. That kills my productivity instantly, so it's important I find something to do that replenishes my energy and my will to keep going.

 Some examples: I like to look outside my window and see dogs trotting by on their afternoon walk, or sometimes I admire the stunning hue of green which is the plant I have not killed yet. I might make myself a cup of my favorite tea or steal a cookie from the cookie jar.

I do whatever it takes to make myself smile and feel like a real person again. No matter how much you have on your plate, it is always worth it to take a couple of minutes to yourself to stop and recoup.


3. Write it down.

When I've replenished some of my energy, I pull up my Notes app or grab a small piece of paper.

On that note, I write down the 3 things that have to happen today.

Not everything that needs to get done or everything I want to accomplish. In my experience, those tend to be loftier goals that rarely happen over the course of a day.

Writing/organizing that short list for myself focuses my thoughts and what energy I have left to accomplish something productive.

4. I get back to it, this time with focus and energy working in my favor.

When I get back to work this time, my brain isn't spinning aimlessly.

My list is at the forefront of my mind, and I can focus my energy on achieving those specific goals instead of trying to do it all at once.

Key takeaways

  • When I feel like I'm drowning, I take time to rise above the waves and make life feel right again.
  • I do whatever it takes to halt my chaotic thoughts, rejuvenate, and bring what's important into focus.
  • Next time you find yourself feeling like you're drowning, take time to take care of yourself – and ramp up your productivity as a bonus.

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  1. Jay on February 3, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    What a great Clue – thank you, Hannah! I will admit, when I first started reading this one, I thought to myself, “I already have my own way of dealing with overwhelm. My way is fine.” But your four steps above put it into a whole new light for me.

    It makes complete sense to recognize whatever happens in those overwhelming moments is not productive anyway, then to halt everything, re-focus, and reset. This is brilliant!

    I am almost looking forward to my next overwhelming moment so I can put this one into action. Almost. 🙂

    • Hannah on February 14, 2018 at 10:56 am

      I’m glad you found this Clue helpful, Jay! You’re on to something here.

      Dealing with overwhelm is very personal, and I find that discovering new tips and incorporating them into my own life helps refine my dealing-with-it strategy. I’m glad you’re taking time to learn that and improve your own coping skills, too. That’s a lesson that will benefit you throughout your life.

      When that overwhelming moment is upon you, I hope that almost-looking-forward-to-it feeling takes over and you jump right into action! Hi-yah! 🙂

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