Strategies For Overcoming Feeling Overwhelmed


April 7, 2010

HR professionals wear many hats. When you work in HR, the moment you take off one hat, another one pops on.  One minute you’re thinking like a recruiter, the next you’re handling and employee relations issue, the next you are strategizing with a leader on a plan or program.  One hat I like wearing is that of coach and counselor.  I use my skill and experience to guide managers and employee and often, it spills over to family and friends.

Regardless of whether I am at work or at home, there are people who need advice and guidance on how to best respond to certain situations.  Quite frequently, it involves the individual being completely overwhelmed with the demands that others put on them and that they put on themselves.  Even I have fallen prey to these feelings in the past.  There is one exercise I have found to be helpful in this situation.  I call it the One Small Thing.

Here’s how it works:

  • Make a list that includes each area of your life where you feel overwhelmed. For example, work, spouse, children, personal.
  • Now, each day do one small thing that can ultimately lead to change in that area of your life.
    • For example, if the problem is your job and you think you can repair the relationship, one small thing may be scheduling a call with your boss and communicating more. If you feel like you need to move on and repairing the situation is not an option, use each day to make one call to someone in your network who can help you find a new position.
    • If the issue is at home with your children, the one small thing might be asking them to spend time taking a walk or talking with you, going on a bike ride, finding something around the house to work on together.
    • If the issue is personal and you’re not building in any time for your personal interests, the one small thing may be to commit to scheduling at least fifteen minutes a day to do something selfish, just for your enjoyment.
  • Each day, keep track of what you’re doing in each category.

If you follow the ‘one small thing’ exercise, I guarantee that after a couple weeks, you’ll find that you’re much father ahead in creating situations where you can be successful and fulfilled.  By approaching a problem in incremental steps, you will find that you are no longer overwhelmed.  You will be taking control over the things you CAN control and that is the right approach.

Know of other ways people in this situation can overcome the obstacles?  Share with us in the comments…


  • We all over schedule and over commit (sorry so cliche) – so one approach I try regularly is to let go of stuff – not every commitment has to be met, not every to do done

    sounds silly, but making a pie chart of whats most important versus a pie of what you spend your time on can be illuminating

    love your posts, keep it coming

  • I like it!! Sometimes the ability to do something for yourself is also something to think about.

    Like!! give yourself 10 minutes each day to sit and reflect! It is true that if you do not take care of yourself you will probably not be as effective in supporting others.

    So take time in each day to pamper yourself or simply reflect, take deep breathes, close your eyes and relax

  • Practical advice presented in a nice way…that’s you. YOU never over complicate things, it’s a gift. Nice post Trisha.

  • Great tips! I find some people are so overwhelmed they can’t think of any personal interests. In that case I recommend challenging yourself to see if you can come up with 15 or more things you can do for enjoyment in 15 minutes. Even creating this list, maybe during some downtime brainstorming with a friend, can be your one small thing that leads to more enjoyment.

  • Thanks Trish for the reminder, to take the time to Reflect, and re-focus. I will be sure to start practicing these steps for greater clarity and organization!
    Your posts are written so thoughtfully, thanks so much!

Comments are closed.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.




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