Sometimes life is just challenging. Hard, even. Just when you think you’ve got plenty to deal with, along comes even more. Right on time.

It can start to swamp you. Overwhelm you.

That’s what this photo reminds me of (above). A street art tsunami coming for you at the end of a no-through-road. It can feel hard to escape…

So what can you do to help yourself through the overwhelm? How can you get through life’s no-through-roads?

Well, sometimes a good place to start is to just b r e a t h e.


Just take a moment – right now if you like – and stop whatever else you’re doing. Fill your chest with air. Draw it in deep. Hold it a second. And then slowly and completely release. Push all of the remaining air out of your lungs. And feel some of the tension in your body leaving you.

This is your portable pressure valve (that works physically and biochemically and emotionally). Feel free to use it whenever you like.

Another thing that can help is to get conscious about where you are right now, and where the next step might be. You don’t always have to know all the answers right now. Because right now, you’re just here.

So what might the next stepping stone look like for you? What’s the next, small action you could take to help alleviate some pressure?

It’s said that “every journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” – and the good thing is that you only have to take one of those at a time.

Finding support can be important, too. Whether that be with friends or family or professionals (like a therapist or doctor) – or perhaps other coping strategies you know have worked for you in the past.

Draw on these. That’s what they’re there for. For you’re not in this alone…

And give yourself a break sometimes. Yes, you’re going through a rough patch. But that only makes it more important to take a moment every now and then to nourish yourself. To do what replenishes you. What gives you meaning or purpose or – however fleetingly – joy.

And remember to reflect on how you’ve gotten through hard times before. Maybe not this exact set of circumstances; but there have been other times that really pushed you before, and you came through them. You found a way.

So maybe take a moment to recall this – to remember what helped you navigate the challenges you faced last time.

To remember your strength.

Your experience.

Your ability to handle the overwhelm and, step by step, to get through what at first looks like a no-through road.


Photo and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.



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    Last reviewed: 1 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Feeling Overwhelmed? Here Are Some Ways Through. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from


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