10 Ways Reset Your Mind When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Caitlin Houston
4 min readJul 19, 2023

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Do you feel overwhelmed? Here are 10 ways to reset your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

As someone who has suffered from an anxiety disorder for 20 years, I am a huge advocate of therapy. I’ve not only learned how to avoid anxiety triggers, but I have also been taught strategies for coping with anxiety. My therapist has taught me other skills as well, in regards to coping with grief, anger, or overwhelming emotions. Today I am sharing ways to reset your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Mom with toddler pulling on dress feeling overwhelmed

How do you know if you are overwhelmed?

Feeling overwhelmed is not a mental health diagnosis. It is, however, a tough state to manage. Sunday scaries? You think about what you need to do before a trip and the breath goes out of your lungs? Back to school preparations making you sweat? We all experience stress, but when emotional stress becomes extreme it can cause unpleasant symptoms and make every day life very difficult.

Irrational thoughts, mental slowness, and trouble concentrating are three of many signs you may be feeling overwhelmed. Headache, chest heaviness, dizziness, fatigue, body aches, and shortness of breath are some physical signs of being overwhelmed. While the effects of being overwhelmed vary from person to person, the overall feeling is the same. And it sucks.

There are times when I feel so overwhelmed that I fear I cannot function in certain circumstances. My inner need for control goes hand in hand with my anxiety disorder; so I become easily stressed if I cannot control a situation.

For example, whenever I am preparing to go on a family vacation, I always wind up an overwhelmed mess. There is so much that needs to be done before leaving for a trip, including packing for myself and three children and tidying up the home. All with a toddler in tow. It is inevitable that I will encounter an uncontrollable factor and lose control of myself. As my heart starts to race, my body temperature rises and my mind feels like its filling with foggy air.

In the past, these overwhelming feelings would trigger a panic attack or angry outburst. Nowadays I know how to avoid the worst outcome by resetting my mind. It always starts by walking away (and I am thankful for a partner who understands my need to flee the madness for a few moments).

10 Ways Reset Your Mind When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Even though there isn’t a permanent way to turn off the ability to feel overwhelmed, there are ways we can redirect our thinking to stop ourselves from spiraling out of control. Here are 10 Ways Reset Your Mind When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed.

  1. Brain Dump — Write down everything that is overwhelming. Sometimes when you can actually see what’s on your mind it doesn’t seem as hard to handle.
  2. Break Things Down — Overwhelm can come from too much future thinking. Make a list of things you need to do and choose to do the easy things first. Then do one hard task at a time. For the tasks you cannot do in the moment, try breaking it down into the next step, the next decision, the next moment, and it will feel easier to manage.
  3. Change Your Surroundings — Whether it’s a different room or location, walk/drive/run away from your current situation. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to reset your mind.
  4. Dance, Sing, Exercise, Be Silly, MOVE and BLAST THE JAMS. Or maybe do any of the above in silence. Try a 5–10 minute guided meditation.
  5. Hug someone or something. As well as being able to ease levels of anxiety, hugging creates a feeling of relaxation, due to the increased levels of oxytocin and serotonin
  6. Ditch the negative self-talk! Kind, gentle, encouraging words do so much more than self-criticism.
  7. Cold Shock –Put your face in a bowl of ice water or splash cold water on your face.
  8. Ask for Help — there is nothing wrong with asking for help in an overwhelming situation.
  9. Try the 4 Ps: Pause, Partake in something calming, Purpose remember your ‘why,’ and Plan your next steps. (source)
  10. Speak with a therapist — if you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, contact a mental health specialist. There could be something deeper going on and they are licensed to help you through it.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes — including you.

Anne Lamot — I Am Fearless Soul

10 Ways Reset Your Mind When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

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Caitlin Houston

Caitlin Houston is a Mom of three and creator of Connecticut based life + style site Caitlin Houston Blog.