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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Dealing with overwhelm...coping with big feelings

The Covid 19 pandemic has made unprecedented demands on our time and resources. Feelings of overwhelm have been common as a result but can leave us feeling depleted and burnt out. So how can we deal with overwhelm in a healthy and supportive way? Here are some tips below:

1. Set healthy boundaries on your time and workload. This can include clearly defining the hours you spend answering emails, leaving the office by a certain time, or saying no to specific types of work.

2. Practise self-care. Actively schedule time for self-care activities that nourish and revitalise you – a walk in nature, meditation or listening to relaxing music are great examples.

3. Outsource or delegate. Ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time?” Activities that don’t fall within your answer can be taught and/or delegated to others as much as possible.

4. Focus on what you can control. The next time you worry about something that’s out of your hands, focus instead and take action on something that is within your power.

5. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness – being fully present in the current moment – can be really useful when we tend to engage in mental ‘mind travel’, either ruminating about past events or worrying about what may happen in future. Taking deep calming breaths, checking in with ourselves and noticing our emotions is a really important start. The mindful ‘RAIN’ technique is a powerful one to use in moments of overwhelm:

R – Recognise the emotion you feel, particularly where you feel it in your body

A - Allow. Simply notice and allow those feelings and emotions to be present. (For example, ‘I observe that I’m feeling anxious in this moment.’)

I Investigate. Explore your emotions and investigate with an open curious mind, almost as if you were an observer on the sidelines. Ask yourself why you might be feeling this way.

N- Non judgement. Proceed from this vantage point of observation by asking yourself what the best next steps or course of action could be, from this new perspective. By allowing your emotions to be recognised and deliver their message without judgement, the way forward may be clearer.

And lastly, reach out for professional help such to as a registered therapist or counsellor if you feel you are struggling to manage or cope...make your mental health a priority.

Be well,


Dr Paula Robertson is a mom and paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families.

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