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How To Get Off the Treadmill of Life

When feeling overworked and overwhelmed it can feel a lot like running on a treadmill.

When running on a treadmill the belt moves at a rapid pace and it’s almost impossible to just get off without injury without first slowing down the speed of the belt. defines overwhelm as to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush, to cover, or bury beneath a mass of something, as flood waters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge.

Based on the above definition, anytime, you are overwhelmed, you are overpowered, overcome, destroyed, crushed, buried, and submerged. In those circumstances it is impossible to be your best self-let alone your authentic self.

I have frequently experienced overwhelm in my life. It has shown up in moments when I was attempting to juggle multiple roles such as mom, partner, employee, PTA president, board secretary, daughter, sister, friend, entrepreneur, niece, cousin, etc. with perfection, little to no boundaries, and no space for grace.

I can tell when I feel overwhelmed because I begin to lose sleep, I’m irritable, exhausted and anxious. Other signs of overwhelm are: discontent (lacking joy), fatigue, feelings of despair, sadness, depression, increase in body aches and pain, lack of confidence, increase in addictions and bad habits, increase in negative thinking, appetite changes, or eating disorders, indigestion and heartburn, sleep changes (more or less sleep), crying easily, excessive worry/ruminating, thoughts, excessive irritability over small matters, no sense of humor, nervous habits, shaking leg, teeth clenching, inability to concentrate, difficulty making decisions, having a poor me attitude (victim mindset/pity party), and poor memory. It is important to know the signs of being overwhelmed so you can determine if that’s what you’re experiencing.

When you begin to notice you are starting to feel overwhelmed by having any of the above experiences, I suggest you stop and reflect. The first step to any healing is awareness.

  1. Make a list of your stressors. It may be helpful to use a mind map. Bring awareness to your current reality by looking at all the things you are attempting to accomplish. As a person who has experienced extreme trauma early in life it’s easy for chaotic and stressful situations to go unnoticed in my life. I have the ability to operate in high levels of stress because as a child I had to; however, my body still feels the negative effects stress and overwhelm has on it.

  2. Seek what you can eliminate. What you have control over versus what you don’t i.e. I can control my kids' activity schedule. I can't control the amount of homework they get.

  3. Identify areas you could use more help and ask for it. Can your children contribute more around the house? Can you start a carpool for activities? Can your partner support you more? Do you have friends or relatives that can pick up some of the load? Can you hire a maid or meal prep service?

Overwhelm can be prevented and/or decreased by practicing regular self-care, closing your eyes for a moment. This will help with detachment and relaxation. Breathe deep slow breaths, we have a tendency to hold our breath when stressed. Intentionally sigh (exhale with sound) this is why you will hear people sigh when they are stressed because it actually makes you feel better. Still your body, when stressed we have a tendency to get jittery, take some time and focus on stillness. Put some distance in between you and your stressors, drink some warm tea, take a warm bath, and add some buffer time into your schedule. The above or some quick things you can do. In these moments the last thing you need to do is to add another item to your to-do list, such as exercise. Although that could be helpful, for some, it may also be more overwhelming and feel like another task.

Things that are tempting but will not cause long term relief are: coping with drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, shopping, emotional, eating, and fighting.

If you need additional support in creating your Self-Care Plan to prevent overwhelm and burn out, schedule a free clarity call at


Kamesha Tarell

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