Many friends have told us lately that they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. They aren’t alone. Some surveys peg the increase of anxiety in the general population at more than 25%. This is, of course, not a new problem. Paramhansa Yogananda addressed it in a 1927 article, “Nervousness: The World’s Disease.”

Master identified the main causes of nervousness as 1) long-continued overactivity, 2) excessive stimulation of the senses from physical overindulgence, and 3) mental overstimulation from chronic fear, anger, sorrow, hatred, jealousy, discontent, or similar harmful emotions.

He said, “Any violent or prolonged excitement disturbs the flow of life force through the nervous system. If you put a two-thousand-volt current through a fifty-watt lamp, it will burn out the lamp. In the same way, excessive stimulation burns the nerves, cutting off the supply of energy and upsetting the functioning of the nervous system.

‘The most damaging emotions are anger and fear. (Worry is usually a fear that something undesirable will happen.) As soon as you are angry or afraid, you burn the nerves.

“Anger burns the nerves in the brain and causes poisons to be secreted throughout the body. Fear burns the nerves that supply the heart and can cause heart trouble. Feelings of timidity destroy the nerve endings.”

Merely understanding the causes of anxiety will not, of course, cure us of feeling overwhelmed. Here is a four-step approach to help fix this problem.

Step 1: Prioritize and Trim. A main cause of overwhelm is taking on too much. The first step is to separate that which we must do from that which we merely choose to do. Make a list of the demands in your life and separate them into these two categories. As you do this be sure also to consult the feelings of your heart and the whispers of your soul.

Swami Kriyananda addressed this in a satsang with Ananda Village members in 1990. He said, “A principle I try very hard to live by is to give from strength, not from weakness or exhaustion. I simply ignore demands if I’m forced to work in a way that makes me lose my peace. It’s important to be with God, to meditate, to take time to be with friends. It’s important to work from your center and not to overextend. Too much extension becomes tension.”

He added, “Sometimes there are start-up periods and crises that demand extraordinary efforts. I’m saying: Don’t make it a habit. Respect your rhythms.”

Step 2: Release Your Resistance. A second major problem is the internal friction that comes from resisting that which we need to do. If you’ve followed the first step you should now have a two-part list. Try to eliminate some demands that aren’t crucial. Determine to accept unavoidable duties willingly, even cheerfully. Negative reactions cause internal stress. Focus on the positive features of your responsibilities and you will soon see them grow easier. Above all, don’t allow resentment and anger to fill your mind with poison. As Master said, “It burns the nerves in the brain.”

Step 3: Strengthen Yourself. Your first responsibility is YOU. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Remember, you have a body, a mind, and a soul, and each needs attention. For the body: eat well, exercise daily, and get enough rest. But don’t overdo any of these. For the mind, make time for some uplifting stimulation, deep thinking, and a little laughter. For your emotions, set aside time for those things and people that make you happy, and avoid things that make you upset or angry. In today’s media-driven world this is a global problem, and it is burning up the world’s nervous system. For the soul, meditate and serve others.

feeling overwhelmed tips for not being stressed yogananda teachings out of the mist painting by jyotish

“Out of the Mist,” by Nayaswami Jyotish.

Step 4: Give Your Problems to God. This may come as a shock to you, but you aren’t responsible for the world’s welfare. It is enough to take responsibility for your own well-being and to try to help those who are in your circle of influence. Leave the rest to God. In fact, here is an even better idea: Leave everything to God.

With love,

Nayaswami Jyotish

Download a printable PDF file that summarizes this four-step approach.

Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:51):

24 Comments

  1. This article is wonderful and brings tears of gratitude. If one can follow the four-step approach mentioned in the article, all our problems can be solved. And of course leaving everything to God is all we can do. Thank you for the enlightenment and wisdom.🌹❤️🙏🏻

  2. Thank you so much for this article Jyotishji, these weekly blogs from you and Deviji are a steady source of inspiration and upliftment, especially step 3 is a wonderful daily checklist for the body, mind, heart and soul! Jai Guru.
    Joy! Joy! Joy!
    Pronams, Prasanna

  3. Dearest Jyotish! totally love it, thanks so much for this piece of wisdom that cones for me at the very right time … Blessings, Ariya

  4. Thank you for this article. This is much needed advise for parents, workforce and children going to school. May there be peace in the world. Blessings – Deepika

  5. Thank you Jyotish ji, yes step 4 was indeed a shock! haha

  6. Thank you very much for this wonderful and practice approach in this article.

  7. Very timely and clear, helpful advice to deal with the time we are in.
    Thank you!

  8. Dear Jyotish and Devi

    Many thanks for your inspiring articles and service for the Guru ‘s mission.

    Your work is very precious.

    Many wishes from France

    Giampaolo

  9. The above font is easy to read on my computer, but for some reason it is remains pale and hard to read on my phone, a Galaxy A20. Hoping that some day I can read it on my phone as well. Thank you!

  10. Yes, life is busier than ever! I have been doing most of these, but I was forgetting to give it all to God!!! Exactly the reminder I needed!
    Thank you, already I feel better! 💕

  11. Thank you, dear soul. This is the perfect information to be reminded of now and always. Namaste

  12. This is practical and useful and helpful information. I enjoyed reading this.

  13. an inspired and perfectly timed message for these difficult times. How easy it is for us to forget that we are not the first to deal with difficult personal and political crises. Thank you for the reminder to allow God to accept some of the burden and the other clear steps to release us from unnecessary suffering…

  14. Perfect reminders perfectly timed.
    Eternally grateful to both of you, Shanti

  15. Namaste. Such a wonderful and simple explanation. Really it gave me an instantaneous charge and joy.
    Thanks a lot

  16. Pranaam, Jyotish ji!
    I feel a surge of gratitude within me for your meaningful and practical advice to reduce our nervousness and learn to experience inner calm. What you have said about the detrimental effects of anger and fear on our overall health is spot on. “Do your best and to God leave the rest” is the ultimate cure for nervousness! Thank you, Jyotish ji. Jai Guru!🙏

  17. Thank you dear Jyotish 💙for the loving, caring, wise beautiful advice and your blessings 🌟with love, bhajana 💛🎶🎸

  18. Practical and uplifting! The trademark of Yogananda’s teachings!

  19. I always get so much from these articles. Paramhansa Yogananda’s wisdom is timeless, even in this age when “mental overstimulation from chronic fear, anger, sorrow, hatred, jealousy, discontent, or similar harmful emotions” are spoon-fed to us constantly through so many media platforms. To have lived in a small village eons ago, lack of news probably made day-to-day life more stress-free to a degree. Now, with an endless barrage of news (mostly negative), our minds suffer greatly, and our spiritual growth can suffer as well. Perhaps this endless onslaught will ultimately temper us in ways we cannot predict, and from there we will become masters even in this information/misinformation age.

  20. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. Very useful advice to practice. Will start applying Now.

    Joy,
    Prem

  21. Thank you dearest Jyotish Ji for these precious words of wisdom. Loved what you added in the audio about learning to decompress – something I needed to do at work. This is a perfectly timed blog for me. Loved the practical ways you have listed Ji. Your blogs (both of you) are sacred whispers to one’s soul ever guiding us in ways explained so simply and marvelously. Thank you and thank you.

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