o·ver·whelm

ōvərˈ(h)welm/

verb

1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

“the water flowed through to overwhelm the whole dam and the village beneath”

2. defeat completely.

“his teams overwhelmed their opponents”

3. give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.

“they were overwhelmed by farewell messages”

Know the feeling?

Most of us do.

Our responsibilities along with the random circumstances of life often conspire to create that feeling of stress we call “overwhelm.”

 

It’s time for some introspection… what do YOU typically do when you feel it?

You don’t HAVE to be a victim of it. Did you know that?

Your feelings are YOURS… you do not belong to your feelings.

Said another way,

Your emotions are generated by your soul. You CAN influence and direct them.

 

But it’s not easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest, most painstaking things we ever have to do in life, because they never relent entirely.

You no sooner get one emotional flare-up in check than another bursts to life.

It’s like fighting wildfires.

Nevertheless, we have to manage them or they will… overwhelm us.

So how DO you typically deal with overwhelm? Do you even know?

If you don’t know, I can guarantee you’re not doing it well by default.

It requires intentionality, discipline, and more power than any of us has on our own.

Here’s how I’ve learned to deal with overwhelm.

 

STEP 1: Recognize it.

This is harder than it sounds. Emotion has a way of snowballing us downhill without us being aware of what’s happening.

The first thing I typically notice is tension in my chest or shoulders, the physical manifestations of the stress.

OR I might become aware of a feeling of hurry or impatience.

 

STEP 2: Take a deep breath.

Seriously.

There’s a physical component of overwhelm that puts your body in “fight or flight” mode.

You can release a good amount of that tension in a practical way by breathing deeply.

It slows you down, clears your mind a bit, and sets you up to see things more objectively.

 

STEP 3: Submit it to God in prayer, confessing anxiety and worry if need be. (Matthew 6:34, 1 John 1:9)

Your mind needs to be reoriented.

God is God. He is good. You are His creature.

You are in His capable hands, right there, in the midst of the overwhelm.

You are not alone.

 

STEP 4: Do the next right thing.

Overwhelm often happens because we’re looking at too much at once.

You don’t have to address the entire mess at once, just the next decision.

So ask for wisdom (James 1:5). Assume He’s answering your prayer as you evaluate the circumstances (He promised He would).

And do the next RIGHT thing.

 

That’s it.

None of it is magic. All of it requires humility and diligence.

But it works – a little bit at a time.