How to Beat Overwhelm: The Little Steps Approach

breath celebration little step overwhelm stress to do list vagus nerve Oct 13, 2023

Guess what?!? This is episode #100 of the podcast! What are we going to do? Big celebration (of course), and... I'm going to go back to something that I need a strong reminder about:

How we got here.

100 episodes is a lot. It's a lot of work and investment since I started in my closet in June of 2021.


Recently we spoke about overwhelm (episode #98, Overstimulation & Overwhelm) and I have to tell you that me in June of 2021 was completely and utterly overwhelmed with the concept of starting a podcast. All the questions, all the options, all the worries.


As we speak about overwhelm, I have to acknowledge that there are a lot of reasons why we can experience overwhelm. Let me rephrase that: there are a lot of reasons why I do experience overwhelm.

Whether it's the podcast, or work and the constant flow of patients who truly need help now, thinking about all the options for my family's schedule and coordination, our upcoming relocation and how the hell we are going to make it all happen, or the flow of social media and news messages and doom and gloom about health and the environment and well, everything...


Overwhelm comes easily and honestly and yet.... it doesn't help us.

Let's go back to the coaching model to understand why.

Let's just say that I'm thinking about all the different things that I can do right now to be healthier. I could walk more, eat less, get rid of electronics, but then where am I going to come up with all the good ideas and get input about what to do next, and then my mind shifts to all the things that are just wrong: the way my family eats and moves and doesn't move and... the list just gets longer and longer.

This is what leads to that feeling of overwhelm. Overwhelm is creating a large mass of concerns or things to do that just bury, consume and weigh us down exactly where we are right now.

Where do you feel it?

For me, it is a spinning in my head. I describe it on the regular with my coach. Yes, I know this feeling and feel it regularly.

But here's the thing: I also know one little tidbit:
overwhlem feels like it's necessary - like I have to know all the things and bring in all the information in order to....


To make a deicsion?
To know the" right answer?"
To plan for every possible contingency?


those things don't exist - there's no perfect world where I can account for it all, know it all, have the answers -- and yet I'm stuck here in a swirl of indecision and overwhelm thinking it's out there.

When I feel overwhelmed I either freeze like a deer in the headlights, or just move like crazy, ping-ponging from one thing to the next, and then collapse, exhausted, and just want to eat those lovely peanut butter M&Ms. I often find that ping-ponging from one thing to the next is like opening new tabs on my browser (which I do a lot of), and then flipping back and forth without completing the task. The tab stays open.



Overwhelm doesn't help me.

What does?

Taking that deep breath -- and it helps me shift one little thing:
to ask what is one thing I can - I want - to do right now?
What will help just a tiny bit?

That's a little step.

The little step focuses on the tiniest little step in the direction I want to head and it gets me out of the flurry of other options.

I picture a snowglobe - have one right here -- and overwhelm is the glitter and snow all around, swirling -- and then I take a breath and I can see the glitter falling, feel my temperature and heart rate decreasing and.... I can clear my head to make a decision: just one little step.

We think that we need to make the overhaul, the big plan, the intervention.

It's a lie.

All we need is one step. And one more step.

Family in Focus is built upon a reminder that's good for both us and our kids: It's all about one step at a time.

I used this last week - when a 9 year old spotted the long list of patients coming in to see us in Urgent Care on a Sunday. Whew... it was a long list. And I asked her, "Where do you think I'm focusing?" She scratched her head... and I shared: "I'm focusing on you and your mom. Right here, right now. And I'm focusing on having a little bit of fun with you. That list of patients is going to be there no matter what I do, but I will see one family now and even have some fun.

What do you think?"

She said, "I learned today that you can have fun at the doctor's office."

Haha.. that's something it took me a long time to learn too.


When I practice (and it's always practice because I know overwhelm - I have had so much practice with activating overwhelm in 48 years, I thought that it was necessary) - when I practice focusing on the one thing, the little step, and choosing what I WANT, not being at the mercy of the crushing list of patients or logistics or items on my to-do list, it changes the whole shebang.


So I remind myself of that as I shift to thinking about the next 100 episodes. Nah, you see that's where overwhelm comes in: what will I focus on, what tone will I take, yada yada yada. Instead, I'm going to focus on Episode 101. I'll see you then.


Much love



Check out the Family in Focus with Wendy Schofer, MD Podcast!

Listen Now!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.