Being overwhelmed can leave you feeling exhausted, defeated, and stressed to the max. Fortunately, you might be able to lift your emotional load so you can feel better. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, calm yourself down by removing stimuli and activating your body’s relaxation response. Then, use thought exercises to help you regain your sense of control and change your work habits so you don’t feel overloaded.
[Edit]Calming Yourself Down
Sit in a quiet space that’s free of distractions to calm down your senses. If you’re already overwhelmed, any stimulus can make it worse, including things like TV shows, music, and noises from your environment. To help yourself feel calmer, go somewhere you can turn off all distractions and sit in a quiet space. Stay there for at least 5 minutes or until you feel calmer.
If you can, go outside and sit on a bench by yourself.
If you’re at work, close the door to your office or go to the restroom to be alone.
If you’re at home, lie down on your bed for 5-10 minutes.
Meditate for 10-15 minutes to clear your mind. Meditating can instantly calm you down because it clears your mind and helps you improve your breathing. For a simple meditation, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Sit in meditation for at least 10 minutes to help you feel calmer.
If you’re having trouble focusing on your breath, try counting each breath so your mind doesn’t wander.
If you prefer a guided meditation, look for 1 online or download a free meditation app, like Insight Timer, Headspace, or Calm.
Use breathing exercises to activate your body’s relaxation response. When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, your chest might feel tight and your breathing may naturally get faster. Slowing your breaths to a natural rhythm helps you naturally feel calmer, so do breathing exercises to help you relax. Here are some breathing exercises you can try:
Do “om” breathing: Breathe in slowly through your nose, then say “om” or hum as you exhale through your mouth.
Do abdominal breathing: Lie down and place 1 hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Slowly inhale through your nose to draw air into your abdomen, causing your stomach to rise. Then, slowly exhale through puckered lips. Repeat for 5 minutes.
Perform rhythmic breathing: Breathe in to a count of 5, then hold your breath for a 5 count. Finally, slowly exhale to a count of 5. Repeat for 5 breaths.
Go for a walk outdoors to calm your body and mind. Being in nature helps you instantly feel more calm, and being physically active releases mood-boosting hormones that can counter your stress response. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, go outside for a quick break. Walk for at least 5 minutes.
If you can, walk for 30 minutes to get the full benefits of physical activity. However, it’s better to go for a short 5-minute walk during a break than to not go at all.
Clean up your work space to help you feel calmer. Clutter and disorganization can add to your feelings of being overwhelmed. Remove items that you don’t need at the moment and place them out of sight, such as in a cabinet. Then, straighten and organize the materials you need out on your work space. This will help you feel less stressed by your environment.
Write in a journal to help you process your thoughts. Journaling for a few minutes may help you release your stress or process the thoughts that are overwhelming you. Write about how you’re feeling right now and what you might be able to change to help you feel better. As you write, try to identify actions you can take to help you feel less overwhelmed.
Writing down your thoughts helps you work through your emotions, relieve your stress, and prioritize your concerns.
You might write, “It seems like everyone wants too much from me, and I don’t think I can say ‘no.’ I have so much to do that I don’t even know where to start. I need help to get all this done. Plus, I think I need a break so I can get my thoughts together.”[Edit]Regaining Your Sense of Control
Replace negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Your inner critic can add to your feelings of being overwhelmed by pointing out all of your perceived faults. Fortunately, it’s possible to quiet this negative voice and replace it with empowering thoughts. When you catch yourself having a negative thought, challenge that thought with facts. Then, replace the negative thought with something neutral or positive.
As an example, let’s say you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll never get all this done.” Challenge this thought by reminding yourself of times you’ve completed difficult tasks in the past or by reminding yourself that it’s okay to focus on the priority tasks if there’s too much on your plate. You might replace that thought with something like, “I will finish if I persevere,” or “I’m going to do my best and trust that it’s enough.”
Similarly, you might catch yourself thinking, “I’m letting everyone down.” To counter this thought, list all the ways you’ve helped your family or friends, as well as what they’ve done for you. Then, tell yourself something like, “My family and friends know I care about them,” and “Most of this pressure is coming from myself, not my family. I need to treat myself with the love I give them.”
List 5 things you’re thankful for to help redirect your thinking. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might feel like everything is an obstacle. However, you likely have a lot of blessings in your life. Counter your negative emotions by practicing gratitude. Write down or say aloud 5 things that you’re grateful for to remind yourself of positive things in your life.
You might say, “I’m grateful for my best friend, my cat, my comfy bed, my delicious lunch, and time to pursue my hobbies.”
Complete an easy task to give you an instant mood boost. Pick a small task or something you enjoy to check off your to-do list. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s a priority task. Just focus on accomplishing something so you feel empowered to tackle the tasks that are making you feel overwhelmed.
Having a sense of accomplishment can help you shake the feeling of being overwhelmed.
For instance, make an important phone call, send an email, file some paperwork, wash a load of laundry, or make your bed.
Practice mindfulness to stay grounded in the present moment. Being in the present helps you avoid being overwhelmed by worries about the future or concerns about the past. To be more mindful, engage your 5 senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. This can help you focus on what’s happening now rather than what’s causing you worry. Here are some ways to engage your senses:
Sight: Describe your environment or pick out all of the blue items.
Sound: Pick out the sounds you hear in your environment or turn on instrumental music.
Smell: Focus on the scents around you or sniff an essential oil.
Touch: Notice how your body feels sitting or walking or feel the texture of an item in your environment.
Taste: Stick your tongue out to taste the air, eat a candy, or sip on tea.
Let go of the idea of perfection because it’s an impossible goal. The need for perfection is a common cause of feeling overwhelmed. It’s not possible to be perfect, so stop holding yourself to such a high standard. When setting expectations for yourself, act like you’re addressing a friend.
Try focusing on what you’ve accomplished, not on what you didn’t. With a work project, you might list things like, “reached a project milestone” and “outlined a course of action.” If you’re overwhelmed in your relationship, you might remind yourself that you’ve “worked on your communication” and “scheduled a date night.” If you feel overwhelmed as a parent, you might remind yourself, “my kids are happy and well-cared for” and “I always tell my kids how much I love them.”
Talk to other people in your position to help you recognize reasonable expectations.
Work with a therapist if you constantly feel overwhelmed. While everyone feels overwhelmed at times, you shouldn’t feel that way all the time. If you do, talk to a therapist about how you feel and what you can do to change it. They’ll teach you new ways of thinking and behaving that can help you feel less overwhelmed.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist or look for 1 online.
Your therapy appointments may be covered by insurance, so check your benefits.[Edit]Changing Your Habits
Make a list of the concerns that are overwhelming you. Write down everything that is on your mind, such as tasks you need to do, worries that you have, or upcoming deadlines. Put a star next to the things that are bothering you the most. Getting these thoughts out on paper may help you feel better. Additionally, it helps you identify what you need to prioritize.
It’s okay to make multiple lists if that helps you sort out your thoughts. For instance, you might decide to make a “to-do list” and a “worries” list.
Prioritize what’s most important so you can narrow your to-do list. You may be overwhelmed because you’re trying to do too much. To help you decide what’s essential and what’s not, rank everything on your to-do list. Then, identify the items that must get done. If you have any extra time, add a few of your “nice to get done” tasks to the list.
Put the full list in a place where it’s out of sight. This will help you relax because you’ve gotten it all out on paper but aren’t looking at it constantly.
Set time limits for big tasks and projects. It’s easy for your schedule to get dominated by time-consuming activities, which can be super stressful for you. Protect your time by blocking off hours to work on these tasks. This leaves you time to complete the other tasks on your to-do list.
For example, let’s say you’re working on a big project at work. You might block off most of your workday for that project, but don’t think about it when you’re at home.
Similarly, you might be planning a wedding. Set aside 1-2 hour blocks of time to work on the details, but don’t worry about it when you’re at work or spending time with friends and family.
Focus on 1 task at a time instead of multitasking. You might feel like multitasking helps you accomplish more, but it actually slows you down. Not only does it make it harder for you to get things done, multi-tasking also increases your stress. Stop trying to do multiple things at once. Just focus on 1 task at a time.
Similarly, don’t jump from task to task. Complete 1 task before you start another one.
Say “no” when something isn’t a priority to you or you lack time. It’s likely that people are going to ask you for your time. It’s okay to say “yes” to things that are important to you. However, start saying “no” when you don’t really want to do something or you just don’t have time for it. This will help you avoid overscheduling yourself.
For instance, say “no” to volunteer duties you don’t have time for or to an invitation to attend a party if you know you need some down time.
Ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs help sometimes, so don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you’re overwhelmed. Similarly, delegate tasks when you’re able to do so. This allows you to take things off your plate so you’re less overwhelmed.
For instance, you might delegate tasks at work or ask your coworkers for assistance. Similarly, split up the housework if you live with someone or pay someone to help you get the chores done.[Edit]Tips
Make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. Feeling overwhelmed might be a sign that you’re physically or emotionally tired.[Edit]Warnings
While it’s normal to occasionally feel overwhelmed, feeling constantly overwhelmed might be a sign that you have an underlying mental health condition, like anxiety. Talk to a counselor or therapist to make sure you get help if you need it.[Edit]References↑ https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/17-things-to-do-when-youre-feeling-totally-overwhelmed.html