3 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

by | Mar 13, 2024


Everyone gets overwhelmed at times. I’m no stranger to it and sometimes I’ve handled it well and other times I’ve failed and  the overwhelm has become even worse. Recently, I was overwhelmed as several huge deadlines converged at once. At the same time, I was managing work and relational stessors that had me feeling like a rubber band being stretched to the snapping point. These are three things I did that have been helpful in this season:


Remember that your inbox is not the boss of you!


We’ve all had the experience of people tugging at us to respond to their issue, as if it’s the most important thing in our lives that needs to be addressed. And in reality, it’s not. Responding to people has always been one of my top priorities. However, it’s important to identify how much time a response deserves.

Charles Hummel wrote a book entitled, Freedom From Tyranny of the Urgent. He says:

“With a sense of loss we recall the important tasks that have been shunted aside. We realize that we’ve become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent.” ~ Charles Hummel

Too often, it’s the person constantly peppering us with unnecessary texts or instant messages that garners our attention, when there are more pressing issues bearing down. We can become a slave to whoever reaches out the most instead of the person who is most in need. I’ve learned that often, the person most in need never reaches out!  In fact, the people who are most in need, often need to be sought out. So many times as a leader, the most important task on my agenda is reaching out to someone who needs me who has not contacted me at all. It’s important to listen to the voice of God regarding who needs the most of my time.

So the bottom line is, while I always respond, the amount of time spent needs to be carefully guarded. It’s critical to identify the difference between what deserves a 30-second response versus a 30-minute one. As Hummel says, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

Looking back, I realize that in some of my greatest times of overwhelm, I spent hours on things that God was calling me to spend seconds of my time on. And in some cases, God wasn’t calling me at all.


Identify the tasks that when completed, will bring the most freedom.


A few weeks ago, I considered my projects list and realized that if I could just knock two big things off of that list, I would have an incredible amount of space to breathe to deal with the rest. So for a few days, I drilled down on those two things to get them off my plate. It took ignoring a few other issues and people for a day or two, but IT WORKED. Once those two things were gone, I could feel my jaw unclenching and my shoulders relax.

I realize this is easier said than done. People tend to freak out when you’re unavailable, but you have to let them freak.

I was right that once those two things were completed, I felt as if my whole world had changed.


Embrace rest, guilt free.


I have never met a man who felt guilty for resting. Maybe it’s just me who has had this experience, I don’t know. But in all my days, I have never, EVER met a man who said, “I feel guilty that I just took a break.” Nope, haven’t met him yet. But practically every woman I know feels this way.

One time at a conference where I was speaking, without giving any context at all I said, ” So I’m a writer, and for my next project,I’m thinking of writing a book entitled, Why Does He Get to Sit Down? The whole audience roared with laughter. There was no explanation behind my remarks, but every woman understood what I was talking about!

We’ve got to stop this ridiculousness. Ladies, it’s okay to not only sit down, but to truly rest — guilt free!

I really appreciate Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book, Sacred Rest. I’ve read it multiple times. She says that, “A life without periods of rest will not endure the daily grind.” She’s so right. She also schools the reader that sleep is NOT rest! So often we think we’ve received our rest because we got seven or eight hours of sleep. Nope!  She teaches that humans need seven different types of rest in order to flourish: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory. A brief overview of what she teaches can be found in this short article. 

Some might wonder, “But how, Deanna? How do you truly rest when you are overwhelmed with many projects and people bearing down?” I personally tell myself that once I get back to work after the rest, I will be able to more effectively do what I still need to do. I promise you, this works.

I have stayed up late at night, working on a project, stumbling along because I’m so tired. I can do this for hours, and honestly — the product is not as great. But when I come back after being refreshed I can knock out even more than what I did in a few hours in much less time, and it’s better quality work. I don’t believe I’m alone in this, it’s just that it takes people time to see this principle at work in their lives. Try it, and I promise you’re going to see better results. Rest always brings a better product and in less time.

What about you? 

What helps you most in the midst of overwhelm? I’d love to hear your tricks of the trade. Share with me in the comments.







  1. Laura Flora

    Truthfully as of this past year when I’m overwhelmed I start talking and talking alot at that, Its like it just all pours out now , before last year I always kept it in I had to I had No One To Talk To ….. except Jesus of course but sometimes you need that person to talk to…… sometimes I get a response and sometimes I don’t but l for the most part am ok on the times I don’t get one just for the fact that I know that person Loves me and prays for me and what more is really needed. ❤️

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I am glad things are improving for you!

  2. Nancy Tallagsen

    THIS.IS.SO.GOOD!!! THANK YOU!! I’m working on this…the tyranny of the urgent is so real and I am taking this article to heart and going to work on this more intently!

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I am glad this was helpful for you. You are right, the tyranny of the urgent IS so real! I am always discovering ways to deal with it. Love you!


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