How To Take Care Of Yourself When Youre Feeling Overwhelmed
Looking back at the beginning of 2020, I remember feeling a sense of hope for a year that would bring clarity and growth. Little did I know there was something else in the cards and this year would become a rollercoaster ride of uncertainty. If youve been feeling more overwhelmed than usual and your regular toolbox of self-care practices arent working, I can assure you that youre not alone.
It may feel impossible to step out of the storm of overwhelm when you feel constantly inundated by uncertainty and stress, but there are ways you can find calm and comfort and create a sense of soothing predictability. Here are five of my favorite ways to do so in the storm of overwhelm.
1.) Seek Out the Familiar
Even simple tasks such as going to the store or walking outside that used to feel so routine now take a lot of attention. When everything feels different, its important to find ways to invoke a sense of familiarity which can be soothing to your overstimulated nervous system. A fun way to do this is to watch your old favorite movies or shows, listen to music you loved growing up, read books that engage your imagination, go to a favorite park, drink a comforting tea, or rediscover activities you loved as a kid such as puzzles, crafts, or games. Think about whats familiar to all your senses as well as activities and places.
2.) Turn Down the Volume
3.) Say No Most of the Time
4.) Create Predictability Through Routine
5.) Ground Your Bodyand Breathe
Tip #: Try A Grounding Exercise To Connect To The Here And Now
Grounding techniques can help you anchor your mind and body to the present moment, especially when youre feeling overwhelmed. Its about feeling more attached and in tune with your current environment . To ground yourself, try to focus on relaxing your muscles using Kids Help Phones tension release exercise. You can use it anywhere, any time.
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Take Some Form Of Action Specifically Take Time For Yourself
Take a break. Take a breath or at least a minute to stop and breathe. Take a moment to plan. Take lunch with a coworker to talk it through. Take a meeting with your supervisor to express your frustrations . Take an entire night to sleep. Take a vacation.
Take some time for yourself.
The point is to take action to help get out from under the rut you may find yourself in. Taking a moment to distract yourself and evaluate your current situation allows you to see things more clearly.
Only then can you genuinely identify whats overwhelming you at work and then take action to address it.
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We All Fall Off Sometimes So Its Really Important To Not Beat Yourself Up Over This
Self-awareness is key.
Once you start feeling the overwhelm and stress coming in, stop. Take a break. Give yourself time to rest and recharge, so you can come back with clarity, purpose, intention, and heart.
Dont push yourself even more when youre feeling really overwhelmed, because the only thing youre pushing yourself is only a black hole of burnout. Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster.
Its okay to take a break. Its okay to take several breaks. Its okay to put yourself first and take care of your health. Self-love isn’t selfish it’s treating yourself right and also taking ownership of your actions. Both actions of doing the work and giving yourself time to rest and recover.
Forgive Yourself As Much As Possible
During times when were stressed, anxious, or feeling overwhelmed, were also often criticizing and judging ourselves for things that we feel responsible for.
As human beings in this day and age, weve been conditioned to carry the weight of responsibility for so many things on our shoulders and to simultaneously judge and punish ourselves if we feel like were not meeting those expectations. Weve become so conditioned to this process that we dont realize that were actually whipping ourselves on the back! Theres much cleaner fuel that you can use to achieve your goals. Self judgment is not necessary for success. Self judgment can be replaced with self love. That process begins with self forgiveness.
Forgiving yourself for whatever relationship issue youre experiencing, whatever decision you made, whatever career situation you perceive youre in, whatever health issue youre experiencing, or whatever goal you feel you havent met can really help you feel and perform better.
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Recognize The Season Youre In
During busy transitional seasons of our lives, like planning a wedding, buying a house, starting a business, or having a baby, its understandable to feel temporarily overwhelmed. Or even the regular, run-of-the-mill rhythms can pile up without you noticing it. When this happens, you need to remember: Youre not crazy. Youre human.
Separate yourself from your season. Just because youre in a mess doesnt mean you are a mess. Let me explain what I mean with an example. When Im busy and I dont have time to clean my car, it can stress me out. Before I know it, theres a gross banana under the front seat and veggie straws in the cupholders. If I give myself a report card based on the status of my car, some weeks Im an A and some weeks Im an F. So, I choose not to get my value from the condition of my car.
Instead of piling on the guilt, learn how to make the most of this season. It wont last forever!
How To Deal With Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed
The cognitive impact of feeling perpetually overwhelmed can range from mental slowness, forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating or thinking logically, to a racing mind or an impaired ability to problem solve. When we have too many demands on our thinking over an extended period of time, cognitive fatigue can also happen, making us more prone to distractions and our thinking less agile. Any of these effects, alone, can make us less effective and leave us feeling even more overwhelmed. If you are feeling constantly overwhelmed, the author offers five strategies to try.
Our work lives have become increasingly demanding, presenting us with ever more complex challenges at a near-relentless pace. Add in personal or family needs, and its easy to feel constantly overwhelmed. In their book, Immunity to Change, Harvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey discuss how the increase in complexity associated with modern life has left many of us feeling in over our heads. When this is the case, the complexity of our world has surpassed our complexity of mind or our ability to handle that level of complexity and be effective. This has nothing to do with how smart we are, but with how we make sense of the world and how we operate in it.
While we may all feel overwhelmed from time to time in our demanding work and personal lives, employing the above strategies can help mitigate the frequency and extent to which we feel this way.
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Do Something You Enjoy
Feeling overwhelmed will quickly extinguish your spark for life. Sometimes you just need to get back to you. Take a break and do something that brings you joy. Read your Bible or a good book to put some positive thoughts in your mind. Grab dinner with a good friend you havent seen in a while. Plan a scavenger hunt for your kids.
The bottom line is that you probably need to take a break from problem-solving mode. I know this seems silly, but when you choose to have fun, it brings lightness to your life when you need it the most. It takes your focus off the overwhelming things going on and instead puts it on the beautiful things right in front of youlike your toddlers little laugh or a cup of coffee with someone you love.
What Does It Mean To Feel Overwhelmed At Work
Feeling overwhelmed at work typically means you’re experiencing stress due to the amount or difficulty of the work you’re assigned. You could feel overwhelmed after working on challenging projects or being assigned numerous tasks with tight deadlines. There are many ways you can reduce or eliminate this overwhelming feeling, like taking plenty of breaks, asking for help or telling your supervisor when your workload feels too heavy.
Keeping yourself from feeling overwhelmed can make you feel more confident and comfortable at work, causing you to submit quality work and perform more effectively. This can impress your supervisor and possibly lead to raises or promotions.
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Ways To Manage Feeling Overwhelmed At Work
There can be moments at work where you’re assigned many complex assignments, which may overwhelm you. When this occurs, you should take time to organize your tasks and ask for help when needed. Finding ways to keep yourself calm, productive and in control at work allows you to feel organized and submit quality projects. In this article, we review what it means to feel overwhelmed at work, common causes of feeling overwhelmed and tips for overcoming this.
Feeling Overwhelmed From Anxiety: Physically
Which brings us to another issue that many people find overwhelming: physical symptoms. Indeed, even though anxiety can essentially take over the mind, often the physical symptoms are the issues that seem the most overwhelming. Severe anxiety is fraught with physical symptoms, and especially during anxiety attacks those symptoms start to become more and more intense until theyre the only thing your mind and body can focus on. Examples of these symptoms include:
- Rapid heartbeat
These symptoms seem to be felt in every area of your body, and they also tend to cause severe anxiety on their own and ultimately lead to an anxiety attack. Anxiety genuinely is very physically overwhelming, especially if youre prone to panic attacks.
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Unpluggo On A Digital Fast
The modern world has become increasingly technologically dependent. Information is everywhere. Unfortunately, the digital age with all its devices, screens, social medial, and 24-hour accessibility is only driving more activity into your already overwhelmed minds. The high-information diet you keep yourself on can often starve you of the stability and balance you truly need.
Therefore, commit to a few hours, a day, week, or even longer of cutting the digital cord. Since you are probably so deeply plugged in, it may feel challenging at the start. But with time, youll be pleasantly surprised as to how much more settled your awareness is when its not bombarded daylong with unnecessary information.
How Can You Help Yourself
If you’re feeling stressed, there are some things you can try to feel less tense and overwhelmed.
1. Recognise when stress is a problem
Its important to connect the physical and emotional signs youre experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Dont ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines.
Think about whats causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.
Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritising essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you cant take on.
2. Think about where you can make changes
Are you taking on too much? Could you hand over some things to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? You may need to prioritise things and reorganise your life so youre not trying to do everything at once.
3. Build supportive relationships
Find close friends or family who can offer help and practical advice can support you in managing stress. Joining a club or a course can help to expand your social network and encourage you to do something different. Activities like volunteering can change your perspective and have a beneficial impact on your mood.
4. Eat healthily
5. Be aware of your smoking and drinking
8. Be mindful
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How Therapy Can Help With Emotional Overwhelm
Therapy is often a helpful way to sort through difficult emotions, especially those that occur as a result of stress or trauma. In therapy, you may be able to:
- Understand the roots of your overwhelming emotions
- Explore ways to self-soothe, such as meditation
- Address recurring stressors that contribute to overwhelm, such as marital conflict
- Learn coping skills to deal with any stressors that cannot be prevented
- Treat any mental health issues contributing to overwhelm
With each concern that is resolved, you will likely find that dealing with other stressors becomes easier. Even focusing on one or two issues can significantly reduce your distress. Even if your problems seem endless, know that therapy can help you manage your life one step at a time.
Be Patient With Yourself & Your Puppy
There is no benefit in blaming yourself or your puppy theyre not targeting you with their behavior and you can only do your best. There is no easy part of training or owning a dog so give yourself a break. One day, the puppy stage will be over and you will have an older, calmer dog lazing around your home and chilling on the couch.
Keep in mind that you and your puppy are learning, so dont take your frustrations out on them. Its okay to lose your patience sometimes, that is normal, but dont make a habit out of the intimidating, spanking, yelling, or harming your puppy.
Although youve brought the puppy home, if it is not working out you, dont feel bad if you have to return them. Youre not obligated to continue raising the dog if that means a bad environment for you, your family and the puppy. Its obviously a hard decision to make and should not be taken lightly, but understanding that you honestly may not be the best home for them will make you both happier in the long run.
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Be Mindful Be Thankful
Stress management is really about perspective. When we lose direction and feel like everything is coming at us all at once, we feel trapped. This is when we shut down. The truth is so much of life is going well if we just take the time to appreciate it. It may feel impossible in the moment, but try to take a minute to recall something that made you feel grateful. You may want to try journaling those moments down. So when you begin to feel overwhelmed, you have the moments right in front you.
It doesnt have to be profound. Im thankful for the flowers blooming.My kids ate dinner without throwing a fit. It just needs to be a way for you to change your perspective.
Why Does Stress Make Me Feel So Awful
Your body is designed to react to stress in ways that protect you from threats, such as predators. Although facing life-threatening predators is not common today, you do have many daily demands, such as paying bills, working, and taking care of family. Your body treats these demands as threats and the fight-flight-freeze response is activated in your body. At times, stress can have a negative effect on the basic dimensions of mental health . Stress may affect your health if you use unhealthy behaviours to cope. The negative effects of stress on your wellness can become a source of stress in and of themselves. Just talk to anyone who isnt sleeping well due to stress! For more information about the dimensions of mental health that can be influenced by stress, see Wellness Module 1: Mental Health Matters at www.heretohelp.bc.ca.
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Don’t Suffer In Silence
Get support, whether from family, friends, your academic advisor, campus counseling center, or a trusted online community. A heart-to-heart talk with someone you trust can help you get rid of toxic feelings and may even give you a fresh perspective.
If these steps don’t bring relief, or if you are still unable to cope and feel as if the stress is affecting how you function every day, it could be something more acute and chronic–like depression. Don’t let it go unchecked!
First Of All Heres Some Background
When we worry or become anxious, our sympathetic nervous system is triggered. You have probably heard of the Fight or Flight response. This is where adrenaline floods though our body to gear us up to either run away or fight the object causing us to be scared. You might notice your:
An increase in heart rate Your breathing speeds up A choking or heavy feeling in your chest Muscles feel tense, achy or shaky You feel hot and maybe sweaty You become lightheaded Your vision may become blurred Butterflies or cramps in your stomach or an urge to go to the toilet Very important * Your thoughts race so you cant think straight
Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, this response is now activated in situations where it isnt appropriate, like in traffic or during a stressful day at work.
Adrenaline can make you feel very anxious or angry. Your thoughts are racing so you are not thinking clearly or logically and that is why you are likely to say or do something you later feel bad about.
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