Calm woman with eyes closed, no longer feeling overwhelmed having followed Jo Maughan's 5 steps to calm

Stop Feeling Overwhelmed: 5 Steps to Calm

30 November 2017
even when you're feeling HUGely overwhelmed and It Feels like everything's on top of you, there is a way to Feel calm. it may sound IMPOSSIBLE NOW, but bear with me...
The following 5 steps have helped a huge numbers of individuals who were feeling overwhelmed, including me when I was a Tax Director. Read on to discover the 5 simple steps to stop feeling overwhelmed, and feel calm again.   
Ignoring it doesn't help    
In my experience, we try to ignore it when we're feeling overwhelmed because we think we don't have time - we think we just need to get on and do, do, do. 'Just getting on with it' is part of the problem and we need to break out of this habit if we are to regain a sense of calm.

Step 1: Pause & Breathe

Pause and breathe. It sounds simple yet we forget to do it. When you notice you're feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes lightly and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this for at least 30 seconds. You will feel calmer.  

Step 2: Feel Your Feelings

Let yourself fully feel your overwhelmed feelings. Go somewhere private and let them out. Pushing them down doesn’t help as they are still there inside; they will pop up later at an inconvenient moment.

We are often scared to feel our feelings as we think ‘we don’t have time’. In fact, research has shown that on average an expression of feelings lasts just 3 minutes and that the release of them helps us re-ground so we think more clearly afterwards. 

We also think feelings are a sign of weakness particularly at work. Whereas research on leadership has shown that people trust and respond best to leaders who show their vulnerable side.
Step 3: Challenge Your Thoughts

Now tune into your thoughts and challenge them very literally.

If you are anything like me, you’ll discover you are telling yourself you must, ought, should, or have to do lots and lots of things. Listen more closely and you'll discover you're telling yourself you have to do all these things or else something catastrophic will happen, for example, you'll get the sack, your partner will be disappointed, you won’t be able to pay the mortgage etc.

Ask yourself: is this really and fundamentally true? I am 100% certain this will happen?

The point of challenging your unnoticed thoughts is to (1) expose them; and (2) to get them back in perspective.
Step 4: Take Control and Choose

With your new sense of perspective, make a choice about what you will do next or how you will handle things. For example, re-negotiate a deadline, decide to do something to 80% of your usual standard, delegate to someone, take a break, radically re-prioritise your to-do list, just go home and rest.

Remember you are a powerful human being: you are not the powerless victim of your situation or circumstances. Even if your job is hugely busy & pressured and your boss is tricky, you always have a choice about what you do and how you are.

Ask yourself this question: 'What would I do if this were my last day alive?'
Step 5: Reflect on What the Overwhelm is Trying to Teach You

Our feelings come to give us a message, and the message can be easy to miss unless we pause and reflect. Pause and reflect so you understand what your overwhelm is telling you. You can do this by journalling at the end of the day.

One of my most important messages was to realise that I was consistently under-estimating the time it would take me and my team to do something. It was very useful to realise this and I began to add 20% to my initial estimate of how long something would take.

A few years later, after a big build-up of overwhelm, the message I took was to realise that my values and those of my employer did not match. I needed to find a way to live and work in accordance with my values.  


The 5 steps to stop feeling overwhelmed, to feel calm instead, are:
1. Pause and breathe for at least 30 seconds.
2. Feel your feelings - let them out.
3. Challenge your thoughts very literally. 
4. Make a new choice and implement it.
5. Reflect on and discover what your overwhelm is trying to tell you.   

Is your overwhelm a sign of something deeper? Do you want to re-assess your career and life but don’t know where to start? Click on the image or button below to grab your copy of my inspiring free toolkit - Rethink Your Life.

This Toolkit will get you unstuck! In it you get my 7 step 'Rethink Your Life' system that I use with my clients - it's a structured way to rethink your career and life that your brain will love. You also learn the 7 questions you must ask yourself to create a career and life that's more balanced and fulfilling for you. Click on the button or image below and start re-thinking your life today.  
About Jo Maughan
Jo Maughan is the founder of YourThinkingPartner. Her first career was as a FTSE 100 Tax Director. After suffering a fall and a significant brain injury, she overcame her fears to follow her calling as a coach and artist. She is now living the life she was meant to live, inspiring successful mid-life professionals at or near the top of their careers to rethink their careers & lives for more balance, fulfillment, purpose & joy. She and her clients use her 7 step system 'Rethink Your Life'. Jo is a sought after speaker and is currently writing her first book.
Career coach, Jo Maughan, in a red coat, smiling.
Quite Interesting....
  • 50-80% of people in the western world are unhappy in their jobs. Don't let this be you!
  • Your mind takes just 1/12 of a second to interpret something and jump into its automatic thought pattern.  
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