Action Plan and Tips for Overcoming Stress

Tips for Overcoming Stress and Anxiety. Illustration by Magoz
Written by Magoz
4 min read 16k views 23 comments

All of us experience stress and feel overwhelmed at some point.

It happened to me a few weeks ago. I had too many projects going on, and good ideas wouldn’t come to me, even though I tried for days. I was stressed, under pressure, and I had a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. As a result (or perhaps as a cause), I didn’t rest properly, and I felt like everything was out of control.

When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, I follow this action plan.

Action Plan to overcome the stress

  1. Find the root of the stress
    Stress creates confusion, and it’s difficult to think clearly. I ask myself why I’m uncomfortable, what scares me, and why I feel overwhelmed. When I identify the root of the problem, it is easier to move forward.
  2. Clear up the agenda
    Stress is usually related to lack of time, so I immediately clear up my task list and calendar. When I reschedule or cancel as many tasks and actions as possible, it immediately lowers my stress level.
  3. Define the most important task and plan
    This step is critical. I write down all the important tasks that can’t be rescheduled and plan the next few days, trying to balance out my days as much as possible.
  4. Clean the environment
    Before I start working, I clean and organize my desk. If I feel very stressed, I also take a shower. These actions help me to work in a friendly environment. They also prepare me for the work ahead of me. After completing these very easy and mechanical tasks, I’m ready to begin.
  5. Just start
    I start with the first task on the list. I focus on only one task at a time, without thinking about the rest of my list. The goal is to complete the first task – everything else is secondary.
  6. Go for a walk or do some exercise
    I love walks – they are extremely effective to clear my mind, organize my ideas, and inject motivation. A walk before, during or after work completely resets my brain.
  7. Repeat this process until the stress disappears
    I keep myself in that mode until everything is back to normal and I am no longer feeling stressed.

Some tips against stress

  • Don’t check/respond emails
    99% of the emails can wait for a couple of days.
  • Avoid distractions
    I usually put my phone into airplane mode and sometimes, if necessary, turn the wifi off so I can’t access the Internet and get distracted.
  • Drink Tea
    Somehow, tea helps me a lot to enter the focus mode. I think is the mix of the caffeine, hydration, and repeating the drinking action constantly.
  • Pomodoro technique
    If I’m very stressed and unmotivated, I use the Pomodoro Technique: work for 25 minutes, have a 5 minute break and repeat. When you complete the cycle 4 times, take a longer break of 20 minutes.


Sometimes we feel so stressed that we mix reason and feelings. Identifying the causes of why we feel stressed helps us to understand how we got there. It also allows us to measure the damage that stress has caused on our routines and habits. Once we do this, we can start working to fix the situation as soon as possible.

Dealing with stress is tricky, and if we don’t take action, stress and pressure can create a domino effect to other aspects of our lives.  

In my experience, understanding the situation, staying calm, planning, and having a clean environment are the keys to overcoming stress.

• • •

How do you deal with stress? How do you break the overwhelmed state of mind?
As always, I would love to hear your comments!

PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!


Nomadic illustrator. Thinker. Seeker.


  1. Thank you Magoz for these judicious advices that I adhere to on. The breathing exercises very effective for me.

    • Thanks, Clod! That’s a great point! Breathing and meditating are very helpful for me as well when I feel stressed.

  2. Sometimes I just go into the office restrooms and masturbate furiously. Like you said: “stay away from emails!” You’ve hit it right on the nail. I’m glad you left out (here it comes again) “MASTURBATE FURIOUSLY” from the list because that would have been a real ‘bummer.’

  3. I go out for a walk. If possible in nature – seeing trees and feeling the wind helps a lot!

  4. Lately, I’m forcing myself to work out of my studio, especially in the initial stages of a project, when I only need to use my brain, a pencil and a piece of paper. Working in local libraries or cafeterias— always avoiding an internet connection—has been liberating. I tend to generate better ideas out and get at home 100% prepared for ‘production stages’ :-)

    Additionally, doing some sport is always necessary. Even more for my mind than for my body. Thanks for another great post, Magoz.

  5. M

    Great article! I,ve been so stressed and your tips came at the right time. TkU

  6. Great article! In my weekly program I introduced sport/gym/jogging, and music is so important to me when I work :) But how you deal with the clients that wants a lifetime rights for your illustration?

    • I deal with those cases sending them a very nice quote according to their wishes :-)
      And definitely, I couldn’t work without music. Stay tuned, a new article related to music is coming soon!

  7. Excellent advices Magoz !
    The tea-lover that I am would add that coffee has a “up and down” effect: as soon as the caffeine level will go down, you’ll need another coffee to stay awaken and concentrate.
    On the other side, caffeine in tea is released more slowly (after all that’s what monks drinks along meditation :)

    • Great points, Annalisa! Thanks for your comment!
      I also like the fact that tea can be re-used, so it’s very handy to have the cup next to you and just fill and drink it a few times while working.

  8. Thanks Magoz! I was really stressed today and needed this :-)

  9. A
    Alex Smusiak

    Thanks..great article..I need this right now.

  10. Hola Mágoz, primero quiero darte la enhorabuena por el éxito del curso de Bna. Luego decirte que me ha hecho mucha gracia la técnica pomodoro…voy a probarla.
    En algunas cosas coincidimos como en la caminata y el té. Pero cuando el estrés me supera intento estirarme y practicar un poco de meditación activa. También suelo alternar el trabajo con actividades que yo llamo domésticas tales como doblar la ropa, preparar una ensalada. Por último y la que más me gusta es pintar con acuarelas o gouache porque no forman parte de mi trabajo cotidiano. Un abrazo relajante!

    • ¡Fantástico Carmen! Estoy seguro que te gustará la técnica Pomodoro, es muy efectiva.
      Un abrazo y a disfrutar de las acuarelas, la meditación y todas las demás tareas “desatascador”.

  11. Thanks for a great self-help article. I will surely get back to this when I feel stressed.

  12. Recién llegado y alucinando con la generosidad y claridad de los temas. Enhorabuena y gracias por todo este trabajazo. A ver como me las arreglo para verlo sin que me produzca estrés verlo todo! ;)

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