Fight stress and manage anxiety. Regain momentum. Tools and tips to help you overcome overwhelm and your to-do list before it overwhelms you.

How to Overcome Overwhelm: One practical game-changing strategy

How do you overcome overwhelm when you feel anxious and stressed by the to-do list? Try this practical strategy to regain momentum and power through.

Overwhelm goes beyond a long “to-do” list.
It often involves feeling stalled ~ You don’t know how to restart or where to begin.
You’ve likely lost some perspective and “can’t see the forest for the trees.”

Years ago I learned something that transformed my ability to power through and regain momentum and overcome overwhelm. Since then, I’ve heard this tip mentioned by various experts but it still seems like it’s one of those “best-kept secrets.” It makes all the difference, but it doesn’t stand alone.

It’s kinda like the “secret sauce.”
But it only works when applied to the rest of the brisket.

(That’s a little Texas analogy for you Yankee friends.)

Fight stress and manage anxiety. Regain momentum. Tools and tips to help you overcome overwhelm and your to-do list before it overwhelms you.
Overcome Overwhelm and Regain Momentum

The Secret Sauce

When life overflows, most of us know that we need to get some perspective and make a list.

But somewhere in the middle of making a list
or trying to find the forest,
we can get even MORE overwhelmed.
Can I get a witness here?

Enter the secret sauce. Simple, yet profound.
Here it is: Do something.

  • Look for a quick win.
  • What can you do that will either be finished or contribute greatly to getting started that will only take an hour or two?
  • Pick something easy or straightforward.

But here’s the secret to the secret:
You can’t stop to make a list first.

Chances are, there’s a whirlwind of things that need to be done swirling in your head. Pick one. You don’t have to justify it or overthink it. Just do it.

Think of it as Newton’s law for humanity: “A person in motion tends to remain in motion.” The sheer act of DOING brings more clarity to the THINKING. And you learn more in the GOING about how you should go. And if you want to try the extra-spicy version of this sauce, put on praise music and pray WHILE you DO.

Nothing is too small. And the only things that don’t count are those activities where you sit and plan and think.

The Full Recipe

Like I said above, this strategy does not stand alone. It’s the sauce to the brisket. So what’s the brisket?

Glad you asked. Let’s eat. But I invited a few friends. As I give you my recipe, I’m going to insert tips and tricks that were submitted when I posted this question ~ consider them “Recipe Modifications.”

The secret sauce is best applied before and after step 1.
Once you are finished with step 2, you’ll be cooking with gas and slide right into step 3.

Step 1: Get Perspective (Thinking)

{Apply secret sauce before attempting this step}

On the deepest level, this may involve a lengthy prayer and journaling session. At other times, it may simply be removing yourself from the swirling thoughts.


• What is under my control and what is not? (Hint: People and outcomes are NOT under your control)
• Where is the anxiety originating?


• Seek God’s perspective and ask for help in letting go of whatever He reveals
• Repent from anxiety and worry

Wisdom from Master Chefs:

“I look at what is worrying me and ask if it is real or self-inflicted.
Usually, I am blowing something out of proportion and need to look at ‘worst case scenario’ to realize that even if it goes totally wrong, I’m going to be ok.
I also ask: Am I trying to require something of myself that no one else is? If yes, I can let myself off my own hook.
And then I preach mini-sermons to myself, such as the reminder that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light”
~ Michele

“I have to first stop the swirling thoughts and list-making in my head. Sometimes that’s by working out, retail therapy, calling a friend or venting to family.”
~ Madison

{Apply secret sauce before attempting the next step}

Step 2: Make a List (Writing)

List types are varied and personal.
But you DO have to wrangle all those thoughts that are running rampant down onto paper or whiteboard or computer screen.
Once you have them corralled, you’ll need to divide and prioritize. Set a time limit.

Tip: To keep you moving forward, create a category for “Unknown.”

  • Don’t waste time trying to prioritize something that isn’t clear.
  • Just place it in the unknown/misc. slot for now.
  • Once you’ve finished categorizing everything else, it may be clearer.

Bottom line: Don’t get bogged down in this step.


• What is most critical and/or time-sensitive?
• What do I have to do and what can I get help with?


• Discernment on priorities and segmentation
• Protection from distractions and further anxiety as you see the list develop


From "Overcome Overwhelm" ~ You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step


Wisdom from Master Chefs:

“I make a list of every single thing that’s overwhelming me. Then I ask God to help me categorize those items into:
• only I can do this and it has to be done now,
• others can help me with this,
• this can be done later,
• this may never get done.
I usually put this stuff on post–it notes, then move those little slips to their category.

Many times the Lord, for reasons I don’t understand, will move things around because He’s taking care of it in ways I can’t see (events being cancelled due to weather, so no need for me to waste time preparing; that letter in the “do it now” list was vital encouragement to the recipient; groceries weren’t needed because someone brought dinner).

The key to this is letting God nudge and guide me with these little sticky notes. The most important part of this is writing His follow up in small print, and tucking them away in a notebook for a later reminder of how He works it all out.”
~ Michelle

Step 3: Do the next thing (Doing)

This is different from the secret sauce of doing something ~ anything.
This is taking a step toward whatever you identified was most critical or most urgent.


• What’s the next thing?
• Repeat; You get the idea :)


Pray “as you go.”
• Ask God to bless your efforts and provide supernatural efficiency

Wisdom from Master Chefs:

“After a list-making session, I divide the list into categories (work, home, etc.). I ask myself “What is the next step? What has to be done next?”
I find that by focusing on today’s troubles instead of ALL of it, I can feel less overwhelmed and stay more focused. (The whole eat an elephant one bite at a time thing.)

When I can, I light a candle, put some music on, and make a cup of coffee. Every is better with coffee and dive in.”
~ Kimberly

From "Overcome Overwhelm" ~ Just take the next step instead of worrying about the next thousand steps

Step 4: Just keep cookin’

The only way you learned to cook was by getting in the kitchen. And you learned to adjust your mom’s recipes to fit your own family’s tastes.

The same is true here. Take these tips and make them work for you. And remember, celebrate small victories along the way.  Whatever you do, however you order it, the two most important things to remember are this:

  1. Start.
  2. Keep going.
Jumpstart Prayer Challenge

As you read above, prayer is an important part of working through this process.
If you could use help restarting your prayer life, I’ve developed a free 5-day prayer challenge that will guide you in that.

Click for Info on the 5-day Prayer Challenge


[clickToTweet tweet=”A person in motion tends to remain in motion.” quote=”A person in motion tends to remain in motion.”]

[clickToTweet tweet=”The sheer act of DOING brings more clarity to the THINKING.” quote=”The sheer act of DOING brings more clarity to the THINKING.”]

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23 responses to “How to Overcome Overwhelm: One practical game-changing strategy”

  1. stultsmamaof4 Avatar

    Christi, I came across this on pinterest again tonight and decided to read it for a second time (why not – it’s a new year?!). I believe this is one of the Enemy’s tactics – to keep us feeling overwhelmed and confused so that we are stunted in our efforts. At least, that seems to be true in my life lately. Thank you for this encouragement to press on, even just one baby step at a time.
    Jen :)

  2. Amy Hagerup (@amyhagerup) Avatar

    HI Christi, This is very helpful to me tonight. I’m so glad I found you on pinterest. Going to apply for sure! Blessings, Amy

    1. Christi Avatar

      Thank you for letting me know. The struggle is real :)

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