Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s the only way to reset and start being productive immediately

We’ve all been there, one minute you are crushing through your to-do list feeling like a productivity ninja……. the next minute you are wondering why you are suddenly feeling overwhelmed and stressed that you don’t have enough hours in the day to get through everything.

Now there are a whole host of reasons how you got to that point in the first place – and that’s a whole other discussion. But once you are there it’s important to reset your brain and get back on track as quickly as possible to your usual productive self.

So what’s happening in the brain?

When you feel overwhelmed your flight / fright response in the amygdala (the part of the brain to keep us alive and out of danger) has basically taken over from the rational thinking Pre-frontal Cortex – the part of the brain that we use for getting our work done.

Why does the amygdala take over?

Your amygdala asks one question all the time – “am I safe”. And the moment it senses danger it takes over. Now unfortunately it can’t differentiate between the danger of a sabre-toothed tiger and a tight deadline (or many of our other first world problems). So it often takes over unnecessarily and it means that we are now giving more energy to being stressed than actually getting the job done.

Hence our productivity declines at the time when you need it the most.

So how do we reset the brain?

We need to send an immediate message to the brain that we are safe in order to get our productivity back.

The quickest way to do this is diaphragmatic breathing. If we just do our usual chest breathing we probably will continue to breath shortly and sharply and reinforce that we are still in danger – but with diaphragmatic breathing we send a message to the brain that we are safe – if we were actually trying to get away from a sabre-toothed tiger we wouldn’t be able to do diaphragmatic breathing.

So how do we do diaphragmatic breathing?

  • Sit up straight
  • Place one hand on your diaphragm – just above the belly button and just below the rib cage
  • Place the other hand over your chest
  • Breathe deeply by making sure your bottom hand moves out and in and make sure the hand on your chest doesn’t move

Once you’ve reset your brain – you will find it way easier to get back to business and crush through the rest of your to-do list.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.