Home DIY Project Stress: 7 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Tackling home DIY and remodeling projects can be fun! Exciting! Stressful! Completely overwhelming. Money, exhaustion and pressure can all lead to a whole mix of emotions, positive and negative, when working on projects around your house. We’ve got seven tips to consider when you start feeling overwhelmed.

1. Acknowledge that you’re overwhelmed
Allow yourself to feel overwhelmed. Say it out loud. Now remember you’re human and it’s totally okay to feel overwhelmed. Breathe.

2. Figure out what actually has to be done right now
Have to get your cabinets built so the counter top can be put in? A baby on the way and you’re on a tight deadline? Totally things worth rushing for and feeling overwhelmed about. But usually home projects don’t have to be done on such a tight deadline. While it’s great to be ambitious, when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, figure out if there’s anything you can delay or reschedule to give yourself more breathing room.

3. Break things down into manageable, actionable tasks
What works for work and other areas of life certainly helps with DIY projects. Instead of just writing “make bed,” create a detailed to-do-list that involves shopping for materials, gathering tools and each step of the project. Seeing each small task will help your brain wrap around each element needed to complete the project.

4. Embrace technology (or whatever tools work for you) to stay organized (before you begin)
However excited you might be to jump into a DIY project, spend the extra time to get — and stay — organized. And use whatever tools work for you. It could be an app that helps you track how much you’ve spent on materials (to help you stay on budget and help you remember what size screw you used if you have to buy more!) or it could be using one of the home supply store’s systems to track purchases so you remember a paint color if you lose the can. And you don’t have to go the technology route — consider keeping a binder or drawer full of receipts, notes and more so all the resources you need to complete a project are at hand. Knowing you have a handle on the project can help diminish overwhelming feelings.

5. Start small to build confidence or switch gears when you get stuck
If you have a few DIY projects on your list, consider starting on the smaller, easier ones to give you confidence before tackling a tougher task. If you get stuck on a tough step of a DIY project, don’t give up, just walk away for a bit. Consider switching gears to another project or cleaning task (so you don’t lose motivation by turning to Netflix or something).

6, Ask for help, seek out support
We’ve got a strong community here of tutorials, how-tos and readers with lots of knowledge. But don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck or overwhelmed, even if that help isn’t from an expert. Just asking a friend over to laugh with while you figure out a particularly tough DIY problem can help tremendously.

7. Remember that DIY projects are fun! And however it comes out, you’ll be proud of yourself in the end
It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re knee-deep in a DIY mess, but use past DIY project successes to remind you that though the going is getting tough, the end result will be a worthy reward. And be sure that you have fun with it — play music, listen to stand-up while you work, get the whole family involved — it’ll seem less like overwhelming work and more like a good time!