How To Cope When Life Overwhelms You

(Why clarity and a bit of perspective work wonders)

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Tough times never last. Tough people do.

Overwhelming periods of life happen to all of us.

Even Life Coaches suffer from them occasionally – I can assure you!

So, what do you do when everything starts to feel way too heavy, complicated and stressful? When you want to retreat from the world and escape – but can’t?

The first step is a little reality check. Can you be totally objective about what you have on your plate right now?

Pause – Survey – Reflect – Adjust

Maybe you’re experiencing temporary overload due to a shift in career demands? Is it because of a recent resettlement? An ongoing problem that you just can’t seem to resolve? Are you battling with health issues (your own or of those closest to you)? Is your work/life balance out of kilter?

When we start to reach breaking point, it’s almost always caused from the exhaustion of juggling far too much. So, if this sounds like you right now, I have some good news. Fortunately there are some great little self help tools you can employ to ease things.

When life becomes unmanageable for any of us, one of the best first steps is to gain a bit of clarity and perspective. So, with this in mind, I’ve compiled a helpful checklist. Run through the bullet points below to see which apply best to you, then let the tips that follow help blow a few stormclouds away.

  • Don’t Pretend Nothing Is Wrong

Trying to silently push through the exhausting times of life is never the answer. When you start to feel overwhelmed, your first port of call should always be a chat with someone who loves you, understands your situation – and has your best interests at heart.

  • Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

What are family and friends for if not supporting us during tough times? You would do exactly the same for them, right? Is there someone you can reach out to? People often don’t realise you are struggling unless you tell them.

Light at the end of the tunnel

  • Believe In Yourself

Remember that nothing bad, however tough, lasts forever. Nothing! In the pits of my own despair many years ago, I always knew that the end of this miserable (divorce) period would eventually come.

  • Be Kind To Yourself

A resilient spirit, combined with some regular self love and kindness will do you the world of good. Invest in valuable ‘you’ time.

  • Focus On The Outcome Of This Challenging Time

Try to see past your current situation, and focus on what good lies ahead. Change and growth – and some occasional hardship – often go hand in hand.

  • Avoid Comparisons With Others

We all tend to think that others are coping better than us. Living less stressful lives maybe. Well, guess what? That just isn’t true, so don’t drive yourself crazy thinking this way. No-one escapes tough times! Your current situation may be unique – but you will absolutely survive it.

  • Get Back Into The Driver’s Seat

Even when you’re really battling, you must remember that you are in total control of your emotions. You control how you handle the perceived stress in your life. So if something is important to you, and it’s worth fighting for, keep those goal posts firmly in sight.

“Grab life by the horns and give it everything you’ve got!”

  • Self Care

There’s never a better time to love yourself than when times are tough. Whether it’s time out for a massage, a solo visit to see the movie you’ve been longing to watch, grabbing your running shoes for half an hour in the wonderful embrace of Mother Nature – or simply curling up with a coffee and a good book. Don’t be shy about putting your own needs first.

  • Shift Your Focus

What do grey skies bring? Miserable rain and thunderclouds? Well yes, you could look at it that way. But don’t they also bring the water that we need for survival? Without rain where would you be right now? Do strive to see the upside of all situations. What are you learning today?

“Many good things are borne out of bad experiences.”

  • Simplify And Reduce Commitments

Chisel down hard on your daily load and establish the real priorities? What are they?

  • Make Personal Time A Priority

Enjoy your own company sometimes. Solitude does wonders for purposeful self reflection during stressful times.

  • The Magic of ‘No’

Small. Powerful. Vital. Learn to say ‘no’ more often – and feel your load lighten instantly.

  • Diet And Exercise

Not surprisingly, most of us forget the importance of diet and exercise during taxing periods of life. Are you perhaps allowing a poor diet and lack of movement to add to your worries?

  • Focus On The Good In Your Day

It’s there! Look for it and you’ll be surprised to see how even the toughest of days have hidden rainbows.

  • Read/View Uplifting Material

Avoid heavy, doom laden tabloid and media articles when things are piling up on top of you. The simple daily act of consuming uplifting content will have a profound impact on your level of happiness – I guarantee it. This is a simple Life Coaching trick that really works.

  • Keep An Eye On Those Vices

When we’re stressed and a bit overwrought, we often turn to the shortlived comfort of our favourite vices. Whether your vice of choice is junk food, too much food, alcohol, nicotine or late night Netflix binge sessions – be aware that these are just adding to your current problems.

Be self aware. Can you identify what your vices are? Can you replace them with healthier alternatives?

  • And Finally – To Bed

Ah! The restorative – often elusive – kingdom of sleep!

Sadly, sleep problems have a habit of rearing their ugly heads when you least appreciate it.

If your current situation is affecting your sleep patterns, do try to minimise the damage by whatever means it takes. Try daytime power napping, avoiding use of devices an hour before bed, a warm bedtime drink or even a soothing bath before sliding between the sheets.

Sleep should be a priority every day, but never more so that when you’re out of synch for whatever reason.


Unfortunately, the challenging times of life can’t be avoided. But we can definitely decide on a great plan of action to tackle them. The next time you notice familiar signs of overload creeping into your life, stand back and review first of all. Then run through the above tips to establish where you can help yourself. Remembering that easier times always return is one of the best motivators to set you back on a happier, more positive course.

PS Did I miss something that you find useful when you’re feeling pressure in your life? What are your secret weapons?

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


3 Tips to Get Through Tough Times: A Joyful Life Toolkit

by Kirsten Trammell
Photo by Jae Park on Unsplash

Building Motivation When Times Are Tough

by Hello Workwell

9 ways to stop over-thinking when you’re stressed at work

by Helen Sian India

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.