5 Tips for the Overwhelmed

The number one word I hear from students during this last week of class before finals is this: overwhelmed

I’ve been there! I am there! Here’s what I’ve learned after 25 years of completing large, overwhelming tasks like writing a dissertation and many books. I was a student for over 20 years. I know what you’re feeling!

Try these tips: 

1. Break each task into smaller parts, and make a checklist of small things to accomplish. For a paper due, for example, write the outline, finish paragraph one, etc. I woke up early today, overwhelmed with work, and I made a simple list to help my mind stay organized. 

2. Write down every concern in a prayer journal and describe what makes you most fearful about failure or not doing your best. Then what? We’ll still love you. You’re still wonderful. God is still in control. I’m doing this right now! Sometimes the overwhelming feeling is about fear of something else. 

3. Prioritize what matters most, and save that task for your most alert hours. Do easier work when you’re most tired or least motivated. I’m planning on correspondence tasks later today when I’m more tired; this task takes less mental energy. 

4. Remember your goals and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remember the joy and privilege of work! Remember the blessing of it! Rejoice in the work ahead! I’m thanking God right now for teaching, grading, and parenting tasks. 

5. Return to the simplicity of the Spirit-filled life. Read Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” I also love Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” I ask God to empower me this day right now! 

So for an overwhelming day, move through the hours with some structure (lists), some self-reflection (prayer journal), some prioritization (hard work when you’re fresh and energized), some reiteration of your goals and joy of working (gratitude), and dependence on God (Spirit-filled life). 

Have a wonderful day! I’m praying for the overwhelmed today. 

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