Posted on Oct 04, 2023

Hey there, fellow travelers on this sometimes messy and chaotic journey called life! If you've ever found yourself metaphorically knee-deep in fall leaves, wondering how you ended up with an overgrown garden's worth of chaos to clean up, well, you're in good company. Trust me, I've been there too.

This past weekend, I found myself assessing the Fall garden clean-up job with a sense of overwhelm.  I was thinking about everything that needed to be accomplished while knowing, I didn’t have nearly enough time.  As I assessed the situation, I didn’t know where to start because the job seems insurmountable. 

I had to just start with one task, one step towards my desired result. While I was moving through the various tasks, I found myself thinking about what to do when I feel overwhelmed.  I often do my best thinking while out in the garden.

Life can sometimes feel like an unruly garden, especially when we're dealing with overwhelm. The truth is, that overwhelm is a universal experience. It's that frenzied orchestra of thoughts and emotions that plays in your head when your to-do list is longer than a CVS receipt, and your calendar looks like a color-coded maze that would give an outsider a migraine trying to decipher.  

 The good news is, that just as we can restore order to a tangled garden bed, we can do the same for our overwhelmed lives. In this article, I’ll offer strategies, share stories, and explore the transformative power of coaching and hypnotherapy for those times when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed.

So, if you're ready to exchange chaos for clarity and turn overwhelm into opportunity, let's get started!

Understanding Overwhelm

Picture this: it's fall, and you've decided it's finally time to tackle that garden of yours. You look outside, and it seems like a wild tangle of weeds, leaves, overgrown plants, and more weeds. Your initial enthusiasm morphs into frustration. Sound familiar? 

Overwhelm is like that unruly garden. It sneaks up on you, seemingly manageable at first. Then, in the blink of an eye, it's a jungle of tasks, commitments, and expectations. Your mental to-do list keeps growing, your stress levels skyrocket, and suddenly, that sense of chaos feels insurmountable.

The truth is, that being overwhelmed isn't just about external factors. It's an internal symphony of emotions and thoughts, each vying for your attention. You might feel physically drained, mentally scattered, and emotionally frazzled. It's like trying to water a thousand plants at once—you end up parched.  It’s like thinking you can get to the end result in one giant leap when what’s really needed is a dozen or more small steps.

We all have our habitual ways of dealing when we feel overwhelmed.  Perhaps your go-to coping strategy is procrastination – “I’ll just put off the tasks because, let’s face it, I won’t be able to do it perfectly.”

Maybe you go into anxious rumination and spiraling – “I’ll never be able to do everything, then I’ll be seen as a failure, I’ll let everyone down, and I’ll be left alone forever.”

Another common strategy is the “I am the only one who can do this job right, I have to do it all myself, and I have to do it perfectly right now!” 

So you resonate with any of these common patterns?  Are you exhausted just thinking about them? 

The reality is, that overwhelm affects us all, and it often strikes when we least expect it. Whether it's the demands of work, family, or just the whirlwind of daily life, we've all been there, lost in the overgrown garden of our minds.

Now that the state of overwhelm has been normalized, I'll shine a spotlight on it, dissect its roots, and uncover its sneaky signs. Because the first step to conquering any wild terrain is understanding it inside and out.

Taming the Overwhelm Beast

With the beast known as overwhelm identified, it's time to befriend it with empathy and compassion (for it and yourself). Just as you would approach that chaotic garden with a plan, we'll develop strategies to tackle life's tangled mess. 

  1. Acceptance/Don’t get mad at it: See the purpose of the overwhelm and how it’s been helping you, even if it’s a little misguided. Those weeds in your garden are serving a purpose. They are preventing erosion and protecting the soil and microorganisms that live in the soil. 
  2. Recognize the Signs: Imagine you're back in that wild garden. To start, you'd identify the different jobs to tackle, right? Overwhelm is no different. We'll explore how it manifests in your life—those racing thoughts, that never-ending to-do list, the physical tension. By recognizing these signs, you're one step closer to taking control.
  3. Prioritize with Purpose: In the garden, you wouldn't chop down every plant in sight, right? Similarly, in life, you can't do everything all at once. Together, we'll uncover your true priorities and learn to focus on what truly matters. That way, you can clear away the chaos, one task at a time.
  4. Mindful Weeding: Just as you'd carefully pluck weeds to avoid damaging precious flowers, we'll explore the power of mindfulness. Through techniques like meditation and self-reflection, you'll learn to navigate overwhelm with grace. It's like gently pruning the tangled mess to reveal the beauty underneath.
  5. Meet the Needs in Another Way: Reconsider the purpose of the weeds in the garden as protection. When you clear out the weeds, you’ll need to cover the soil with mulch or plant something you do want in the soil. The same is true for the overwhelm, you’ll need to replace it with a more healthy and effective coping strategy. 

Lessons from the Garden

During those long hours in the garden, taming the chaos of a summer’s worth of overgrowth, I learned some profound lessons—lessons that apply to life's overgrown areas too.

  • Lesson 1–Patience is a Virtue: Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a pristine garden or an organized life. It takes time, effort, and a generous dose of patience. Overwhelm can make us rush, but we'll learn to embrace the journey and trust the process. 
  • Lesson 2–One step at a time, one task at a time. After each step, you can see more clearly the path to your desired outcome. Remember to pause occasionally to look at where you are, how far you’ve come, and then choose the next step with wise clarity. 
  • Lesson 3–Seek Support: In the garden, you might enlist a friend's help or seek expert advice. Similarly, seeking support in your life can be a game-changer. As a coach, I'm here to be your ally, guiding you through the tangled vines of overwhelm.
  • Lesson 4–Growth Amidst Chaos: In nature, life thrives amidst the chaos. Explore how you can find opportunities and growth even in the midst of life's overwhelm. It's like discovering a hidden bloom among the weeds—a reminder that beauty endures.

Real-Life Transformation

Now, let's turn the spotlight on one client's real-life transformation. This story is of one client who, like you, faced overwhelming situations but emerged stronger, wiser, and more resilient. (Name has been changed)

Shelly’s Story: Shelly felt like she was drowning in responsibilities—work, family, personal goals, even her self-care felt like a chore. Overwhelm consumed her every waking moment. Through coaching, she recognized the part of her that attached her worth with her achievements and service. She came to see her limiting belief that she was unworthy due to circumstances in her childhood. 

Shelly was able to have gratitude for how this behavior helped her in the past, AND recognize that it had become mal-adapted and was making her stressed and exhausted in the present.

She learned to prioritize, set boundaries, and practice self-compassion. Today, Shelly navigates life's demands with grace and a sense of calm all with the true knowing that her worth is inherent and not tied to her achievements. This subtle shift was a huge transformation in how she experiences life. 

This story is a testament to the power of transformation. Just as a garden can flourish after careful tending, your life can bloom with the right tools and guidance.

Turning Overwhelm into Opportunity

In the final section, we'll explore how overwhelm can be a hidden opportunity. It's like discovering a treasure chest deep within the tangled vines. You'll learn how to leverage overwhelm's energy for positive change, create a life that aligns with your values, and flourish in the midst of it all.

Just like Shelly, and many of my other clients, you can take the experience of being overwhelmed as an invitation for the inner work that leads to evolving. The next time you become aware that you are feeling overwhelmed, think of this as a doorway. Below are some strategies to support you if you decide to open the door and see what’s on the other side. 

Strategies and Practices for Taming Overwhelm

Here, we dive into the practical strategies that can help you move to the other side of overwhelm. Just as you'd equip yourself with the right tools for gardening, we'll equip you with techniques to tackle life's wild terrain:

  1. Mindful Breathing:  when you don’t know where to start and you find yourself worrying and planning out the future, take a long slow breath, centering yourself in the present moment. Mindful breathing can help you regain calm clarity when overwhelm strikes. Practice slow, deep breaths to calm the storm within.
  2. Break It Down:  In the garden, you'd tackle one section at a time. Apply the same principle to life's tasks. Break them into smaller, manageable steps. This not only makes them less daunting but also gives you a sense of accomplishment along the way.
  3. The Power of "No": Just as you'd carefully select which plants to nurture, you can choose where to invest your time and energy. Learn the art of saying "no" when commitments pile up. It's not about spreading yourself thin, but about nurturing what truly matters.
  4. Mindful Awareness: Like examining the garden's soil and conditions, we'll explore your life's landscape. Through mindfulness and self-reflection, you'll gain insights into what's causing overwhelm and how to address it. Take many moments of pause to reassess and reroute as needed. 
  5. Seek Support: Even the most skilled gardener asks for help when needed. Similarly, don't hesitate to seek guidance and support. As a coach, I'm here to provide the tools and insights to help you thrive. I help you see what you may not see on your own. 
  6. Breaking It Down Coaching Exercise: Take a specific task or challenge that's causing overwhelm and break it down into smaller, manageable steps. Create a visual representation, like a mind map or a list, of these steps. This process helps you see that even the most daunting tasks can be tackled one step at a time.
  7. Celebrating Small Wins Journaling Exercise: Start a journal specifically to record your daily small wins and moments of triumph over overwhelm, no matter how minor it may seem. This journaling practice can boost self-esteem and motivation over time.
  8. Releasing Overwhelm and Nurturing Resilience Meditation 

Embracing the Journey

In gardening, it's not just about the destination; it's the journey that brings fulfillment. Similarly, overcoming overwhelm isn't a one-time task; it's a continuous process of growth and self-discovery.

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Just as a garden's beauty unfolds over time, so does your personal growth. Celebrate every small victory along the way. Each step forward, no matter how tiny, is a triumph over overwhelm.
  • Cultivate Resilience: Like a garden's ability to withstand changing seasons, you too can develop resilience. Through coaching and self-compassion, you'll discover your inner strength to weather life's storms.
  • Stay Grounded: In the midst of chaos, remember your roots—the values that anchor you. By staying connected to your core values, you'll find stability and direction, even in turbulent times.

Your Flourishing Oasis

Just as a garden flourishes under your care, so can your life. Through coaching, self-reflection, and practical strategies, you can learn how to transform overwhelm into opportunity.

Now, picture your life as a flourishing garden oasis, where the tangled vines of overwhelm have been tamed. It's a place of balance, joy, and self-discovery. The lessons from the garden have shown you the path, and now it's up to you to embrace it.

If you're ready to start this transformative journey, consider a coaching partnership as support. Together, we'll navigate life's challenges, celebrate your growth, and create the oasis you deserve.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. May your life bloom with abundance and fulfillment.


Much love and gratitude, 


Sara Raymond