How to stop feeling overwhelmed and regain control
Understanding the key coping strategies when you feel overwhelmed
Are you feeling stressed to the max right now?
Maybe you’re snapping at your loved ones out of frustration. Or you feel like crying – all the time. Maybe you feel like running away.
If any of this seems familiar, you might be experiencing overwhelm; a sensation of being completely caught up in your own mind and emotions.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to know you’re not alone.
Feeling overwhelmed can result from:
- A build-up of stressors
- Having little or no respite from your daily responsibilities
- Enduring a long to-do list you never seem to finish, or
- Dealing with an emotional event, such as a birth, illness, or death
When stress levels are high and emotions run wild, you can end up feeling unable to cope with everything life throws at you. Even the smallest of tasks.
Experiencing (or dealing with feelings of) overwhelm can leave you feeling emotionally drained and exhausted day in, day out. So it’s important to recognise, seek support, and/or take the necessary steps to ease the pressure.
How do I know if I’m feeling overwhelmed?
Feeling overwhelmed is a very unpleasant and intense emotion. It can be experienced in many different ways including:
When you’re in the midst of these emotions, it can feel impossible to move past them. It’s a matter of taking everything one step at a time – rather than attempting to work out everything at once.
How to avoid overwhelm
Focus on the present moment – It’s very easy to be caught up in the ‘what-ifs’ of the future, such as worrying about how you’re going to get everything done and/or being fearful of disappointing others. But stress and pressure aren’t going to get things done. Bring your awareness back to the present moment and acknowledge you’re doing the best you can under the current circumstances. Read more about mindfulness.
Ensure you have a good sleep routine and diet – Lack of sleep and a poor diet can affect your everyday coping mechanisms. And you can’t be your best possible self if you’re not looking after yourself. Read more about practising self care and getting quality sleep .
Look out for negative thought patterns – Try and take note of any unhelpful thoughts, such as ‘I’ll never get this done in time”. Change your mindset so you’re more focused on the positive. You might tell yourself “I may not get it all finished today, but that’s okay. I can finish it off in the morning and still meet my deadline.” Creating some flexibility in your thinking can make a big difference in how you feel. Your thoughts will usually shift to a more realistic approach and you’ll become kinder to yourself.
5 steps to stop feeling overwhelmed right now
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the moment, here are some practical things you can try:
1. Take a moment to breathe – Close your eyes, take three slow deep breaths, and relax your whole body from head to toe. Continue letting go of any tension in your body by focusing on your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale.
2. Write a list of everything on your mind – Once completed, consider what needs your immediate attention and begin to write down a few ideas of what may help. Whilst this strategy may not change the situation right away, creating a plan can help ease the overwhelm and place you in a better position for problem-solving and, ultimately, how you manage the situation.
3. Take some time out – Whether you go for a walk, make yourself a coffee or tea, meet up with a friend or family member, or just do some stretches, it doesn’t matter. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s hard to get stuff done – whether it’s work or family related. So give yourself time to clear your mind before tackling the next thing on your to-do list.
4. Don’t add anything else to your plate where possible – If you have a family member or colleague asking you to do extra things beyond your current to-do list, it’s okay to say ‘no’. Where possible, ask for help. Don’t feel that you need to say ‘yes’ to everything to meet everyone else’s needs. You need to focus on yourself and your own wellbeing first.
5. Give yourself a day off every week – One day a week, try to avoid anything work-related or that feels like work and completely switch off. Don’t check your social media accounts or emails and have a break from the household chores. Spend time with your family and friends, read, enjoy a hobby, or even take a nap. It may not always be easy, but by giving yourself permission to rest and rejuvenate for a day, you’re more likely to return to work/home life feeling more energised and focused.
If you need further assistance with managing feelings of overwhelm, feel free to reach out to me.
Do you need Counselling Support?
If you need counselling support, contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how she can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
Kylie Lepri is a registered Psychotherapist, Marriage & Relationship Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter below.