What To Do When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist


Published in Lifestyle on 6th April, 2019


We all feel overwhelmed from time to time. While it is a feeling that can be considered normal, it's not one that anyone really enjoys. Not only is it an incredibly stressful feeling, but it can also trigger other nasty feelings like anxiety, irritation and even depression.

Handling the feeling of being overwhelmed can be quite tricky, but it's absolutely possible. Continue on, and you'll learn about why we tend to become overwhelmed and what you can do to keep that feeling at bay. With these tools at hand, you can keep moving forward to the best of your ability!

feeling overwelmed

What Does It Feel Like To Be Overwhelmed?

Imagine that you have to catch several heavy objects falling from the sky at once. You may catch one, two or even three of these things with relative ease. However, as more of these objects fall, it gets harder and harder to catch and hold them. In time, you can hardly move to catch more, and you fear what may happen if you drop even a single one.

This is what it's like to be overwhelmed. It's a feeling that can leave us paralyzed and feeling extreme levels of anxiety. You may feel like you're being pulled in every angle, and like what you are accomplishing just isn't enough to keep things flowing smoothly.

Being overwhelmed can also trigger feelings of depression, if you start to fall victim to the idea that you aren't staying on top of things because you just don't have what it takes.

It's worth keeping in mind that life is hard, and there are many things expected of us that may be unrealistic in some way. Sometimes it's simply too much to ask to keep a perfectly clean home while working full time and chasing around children or pets, while in other cases you may just need to break down the task at hand.

Why Might You Be Overwhelmed?

There are a number of reasons why you might feel overwhelmed. You may also find that the issue is due to a combination of reasons, which can make it feel even more difficult to overcome. Below, you'll find some of the common variables that may contribute to this feeling.

Overwhelming Stress

Work stress, relationship stress, financial stress. There are so many things in our lives that can leave us feeling overwhelmed. When it feels like everything is crashing down around us, we can feel helpless or stuck in unpleasant situations. As the stress builds, we can definitely become overwhelmed.

The amount of stress it takes to feel overwhelmed can vary, depending on the person. It's because of this that being able to tell when your stress is too much and how to best manage it is a great idea. Ideally, you'll learn how to relieve some of that stress before you become overwhelmed.

Overwhelming Anxiety

One of the aspects that can wear you out more quickly is anxiety. Even when the problems that aren't the most enveloping in a logical sense can carry so much more weight when you have anxiety about them. If there's one feeling that is well known for creating mountains out of molehills, it's anxiety.

quit your job

On top of that, it's an absolutely exhausting experience. Anxiety causes you to worry intensely about issues that would otherwise be seen as obstacles. When the anxiety wears you down, you become more susceptible to the stress and can be overwhelmed more easily as a result.

A Lack Of Self Esteem

No matter what the problem is, feeling like you just don't have what it takes to correct the situation makes you much more likely to become overwhelmed. Those with high self esteem don't actually have fewer problems, though it might seem like that's the case. However, they have a stronger belief that they can get through whatever it is that is causing stress.

While self esteem is important, most people can't simply make up their mind to have greater self esteem and stick to it. Because of this, things like self care are hugely important. Through doing smaller things to take care of yourself, you can help yourself to feel stronger as a person.

What To Do When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

There are few things quite as troubling as that feeling that the whole world is crashing down on you. However, there are some simple things you can do to fight back against the feeling of being overwhelmed. The following tips are great for getting you back into the flow!

Take A Few Deep Breaths

When you're in the midst of feeling overwhelmed or panicked, your first step is to slow yourself down. This definitely isn't an easy thing to do, but it can help to take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that whatever is causing you stress won't last, and that you can get through it.

Slowing your breathing is helpful, but it's not going to resolve the problem by itself. Because of that, it will be useful to distract your mind from the difficulty of the situation, and instead focus on your ability to get through it.

Remind Yourself That The Feeling Is Temporary

We all go through periods of time when we're feeling great, and times when we're hitting rock bottom. On top of that, there are so many different variables that can play into how we're feeling, like our physical or mental health and circumstances that are simply out of our control.

Because of this, it's important to remember that even the roughest of times will eventually pass. Sometimes this can be hard to believe, difficult situations or bouts of depression can feel like they will last forever. However, this simply isn't true. The sun will rise again, and we will eventually feel better.

Create A Plan

When you're overwhelmed, things can feel hopelessly messy and completely out of your control. In some cases, you may begin to feel like you can't calm down until you have a solution, but a solution isn't always possible in the exact moment that you're struggling.

create a plan

What can help is at least coming up with a few steps you can take in order to move toward a solution. It could be something as small as moving something that needs to be put away closer to where it needs to go, gathering the paperwork you need for a specific task, or going for a short walk.

Take One Step At A Time

We are all starting from different places, and there's nothing wrong with that. Trying to rush yourself to catch up with others is only going to cause you more stress and anxiety. Instead, take a realistic look at where you are, and think about the next steps you need to take.

Take those steps one by one, and move at your own pace as much as possible. Avoid letting others dictate what you need to do or when you need to do it. Your life is yours, and it's up to you to build a life that suits you.

Think About What You're Grateful For

We can become wrapped up in everything that is wrong, or could go wrong, so easily. At the same time, we can forget the things that are good in our lives. Things like supportive friends and family, a job that you enjoy or that at least keeps you stable, or even simple things like food and shelter.

Taking a little time regularly to remember these things can help to show your anxious or overwhelmed mind that not everything is terrible, even when it may feel like many things are. Writing a list of these things can also be useful!

Get Some Exercise

Exercise can be a great way to boost positive endorphins and provide a sense of control over something in your life. While bills, work or other circumstances may be stressful, you can do something to help with keeping your body healthy.

Exercise is a type of self care that creates lasting results, and helps you to feel stronger. You can also choose any form of exercise that gets you moving, so you can do something that you enjoy while providing a benefit to your health. Just dancing, walking, or doing yoga for a few minutes daily can be a great help!

Or Just Get Out!

Sometimes you may just need a relaxing break or vacation away from whatever is causing you stress. This can be anything from a walk out in nature to a vacation somewhere more tropical. It all depends on what you can realistically do.

Many find that spending a little time out in nature can do wonders. Seeing the great wide world around you can help to keep you grounded, and reminds you that our problems are smaller than they seem in the grand scheme of things. You can rarely go wrong with a good camping trip!

Write It Out

While there may be some stigma out there about writing in a diary or journal, it's actually an incredibly helpful way to get your feelings out and work towards processing them. The effect is something similar to talking to a therapist, except you won't get that added feedback that you would from another person.

write a diary

However, this can make it a more friendly option for those who are nervous about discussing their concerns with other people. There are many of us who may not be comfortable with sharing their feelings with others, professional or otherwise. Writing it down can help you to feel that release and start working on solutions.

Drink Some Water!

Water is one of those simple things that can be easily forgotten, but is also incredibly helpful. When you're feeling overwhelmed, hit the pause button, grab yourself a glass of water and try to focus on drinking at least half of it.

While this seems like a small thing, it can help to remind yourself that no matter what is going on in the outside world, you are deserving and worthy of self care. Once you've had that water, think about whether or not you've had some healthy food recently, or taken a shower, and give yourself those things if you haven't.

Say No

When you're already feeling overwhelmed, taking on more is only going to make the problem worse. Learn to say no when you simply can't take on more, and remember that you can use it to keep your life a bit more balanced.

This can be a very difficult thing for those who were conditioned to be people-pleasers. However, it pays to remember that the first person you should focus on is yourself. As much as possible, try to remember to only take on as much as you can handle.

Tackle Something In Your Control

Feeling overwhelmed can often be a result of feeling like you aren't in control. In many cases, you may not be. However, there are still things you are in control of. Remind yourself of this by doing something that gives you control.

This could be cleaning, getting some exercise, cooking a healthy meal, or tackling some work that is within your reach. Remember that you can always break down large, overwhelming tasks into smaller ones. Once you're feeling a little more in control, you're sure to leave behind that frightening feeling. One step at a time, and you'll be on your way.

Take A Nap

In some cases, that overwhelming feeling is simply a result of too much stress and a lack of rest. Taking the time to allow your body and mind to rest up can allow you to feel more prepared to take on everything on your plate.

If you're one of those lucky people who can fall asleep quickly, a twenty-minute nap is a great way to help yourself to feel more refreshed. Otherwise, you may want to set aside whatever amount of time you need to feel ready to go, or at the very least make sure you're getting plenty of sleep at night!

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