5 Ways To Slay Overwhelm When Learning

When learning something new, not familiar, but completely new, do you remain confident? Or does the anxiety kick in when you didn’t understand the first sentence uttered by the educator?

There’s a good and valid reason why NEW can feel overwhelming.

I’ve been doing heaps of retraining this year. Most of the techniques and content I’m absorbing are familiar to me. But there are occasions my shizzle shows, and the anxiety kicks in.

When I was in high school I seriously struggled with learning. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that for the most part, I am a combined VAKOG learner.

This means when I can see something demonstrated, hear the instructions, and get my hands on the thing (ie touch), then I can easily understand.

There are occasions when I learn something completely new, I struggle — not because of the teaching style but because there is too much ‘new’ all at once — I go into overwhelm.

The reality is most people experience this, and it’s normal.

When there are a lot of new concepts or content that is outside of my realm of understanding/experience, my confidence gets a good reminder that I’m human.

This can feel like an arse kicking! But I’m the sort of person who uses that feeling to boost my determination to conquer the NEW.

I use my tools like breathwork and grounding to ‘try again’.

For others, when learning something new, the confidence meter can take a hit early on in the learning process. When the confidence is lowered, the motivation to learn isn’t high — and this is where people then begin to emotionally dysregulate.

When we feel like our buttons are being pushed, the feelings can be very big. This triggers our flight-fight response, and we activate our subliminal survival program.

When in survival, we don’t create detailed memories of what we are meant to be learning, but we do remember how those big feelings felt. Awful. Overwhelming.

Remembering those big feelings reactivates the survival program, and it’s at this time you create the foundation for anxiety if the big emotions aren’t expressed or sorted out.

When working clinically, I find myself reminding clients of the following tips to combat “NEW” fatigue. That’s simply something I made up, but when I see it over and over, frankly it’s worth calling it a thing!

5 ways to combat “NEW” and Slay overwhelm

1. Remind yourself it’s new

Sometimes you need a reality check when the crazy eyes start to show. Have you ever held a newborn baby? It’s helpless, but so darn cute. There’s no way this tiny person can walk — it takes time!

2. Keep practicing

You didn’t learn to walk overnight. Keep practicing this thing that you’re learning. You don’t learn and perfect something on the first attempt. It’s just not neurobiologically possible.

3. Identify one thing

When learning, if you experience overwhelm, it pays to keep your focus on just one thing at a time. The more you repeat a process, even if it’s not perfect, is creating neural muscle memory. When you reflect on your attempts, you’ll come to realize that each time you’ve probably become progressively better.

4. Deal with perfectionism

Some people experience anxiety when their attempt doesn’t achieve a perfect result. Sometimes you must pause and ask yourself “Is done better than perfect?” If your answer is that you need outcomes to perfect, then address that belief because it’s highly likely that a fear of failure is lurking in your subconscious.

5. Identify when ‘good’ is enough

Remember when you learned to drive, and bunny-hopped that manual car all the way down the driveway? Cue the humiliatingly hilarious memories and the car’s brakes squealing as you suddenly came to a screeching halt.

Am I right?

Remind yourself that you are human. Remind yourself that to learn and do new things, you must create new neural pathways to generate muscle memory. This means you have to practice, over and over again.

At some point, you have to accept that any good attempt is a great start. Continued efforts of good attempts are trying with a positive attitude, so you’re contributing happiness deposits into the confidence account.

The more positive attempts, the more you are likely to enjoy the practice. The more positive the good attempt is the higher the chance you will learn the task or lesson quicker and recall easily.


The best thing to combat the overwhelm generated by new experiences is to remind yourself that “this too shall pass”.

NEW doesn’t last forever.

You just have to allow a bit of time and a little patience to create the neural pathways to cope as you learn.

First published with Illumination, a Medium Publication. Click here this piece.

Want to read more like this?

This is My Roarsigned copies of my first published book can be purchased from this website.

Practice The Pause  – click here

5 Ways to Boost Self – click here

About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Change Facilitator. She is a qualified Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, LEAP & NES Practitioner, Intuitive Meditation Facilitator, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and published author. She is a self-confessed laughaholic.  She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland