Strategies to Manage Anxiety and Overwhelm

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A woman with short white hair, a black dress, and sneakers sitting in a chair outdoors with a cup in her hand.Many of my clients who are Highly Sensitive People (HSP) struggle to manage anxiety and overwhelm. This can happen for a variety of reasons such as, but not limited to, sudden pivots at work, feeling like there is not enough time to take breaks, difficulty communicating their needs, difficulty with constructive criticism, or the energy it takes to be perfect. HSP’s may think about all the different scenarios of a situation which can leave them with little energy.

It is important to have strategies to decrease anxiety and overwhelm before it feels unmanageable. Here are a few tips to help release some of the stress that can build through the day that may leave HSP’s feeling drained, overwhelmed, and anxious.

Take little breaks throughout the day.

I recommend people check take bathroom breaks where you ask yourself, what do I need right now? Do I need to focus on feeling the water as I wash my hands? Am I breathing? Should I step outside for a few minutes? Would a pep talk help?

Check in with yourself.

Checking in with ourselves brings us back to the present moment. What are you noticing in your body? What thoughts may be dictating how you feel? If I adjust my thoughts will I feel differently?

Drink water.

When you notice that you are starting to become overwhelmed, take a few sips of water. This will help active the parasympathetic nervous system and begin to cool down the body.

Push against the wall with your hands or back.

This will bring you back to the present moment and remind you that you are supported. It gives you an opportunity to release what is being storied in your body.

Put your hands on your heart and apply light pressure as you take in three deep breaths.

This is another mindfulness exercise that can help the body come back to the present moment. You can do it anywhere.

Ask yourself at the end of the day, “What did I do well today?”

Our brains are wired to go to the negative. We focus on the to-do list and what we didn’t get done, rather than what we did. There will always be another task on the to-do list. If we focus on what the next thing is, we’ll never have a chance to acknowledge our own accomplishments.

These are just a few of many strategies that can be used to help manage overwhelm and anxiety. The important thing is to practice them regularly before you start to feel activated so they become more automatic during the early signs that you might be ramping up. Remember, different things work for different people. Experiment with a few to see if you notice a difference and if not, try something else.


If you are looking for support and live in California or Texas, please contact me for a free 15 minute chat to see if we would be a good fit in working together.

Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.