What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed
Updated: Feb 20
We are currently in a Mental Health Emergency.
More adults than ever are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed, with many of us feeling like we are unable to cope with our daily lives. This has been an increasing issue globally in previous years, however, this problem has escalated dramatically with the presence of Covid-19 and the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with it.
If you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment, here are 7 simple steps you can follow to process your feelings in a healthy way and find some relief:
1. Recognise you are feeling overwhelmed
This first step, the most important step, is probably the hardest. Learning how to recognise when you feel overwhelmed. The feeling of being overwhelmed is a scale and is different for different people depending on the circumstances. Here are some of the the signs:
- Tension headaches
- Isolating yourself
- Eating or drinking more
- Loss of sleep
- Or too much sleep...
- Avoidance or putting things off
- Feeling angry or irritated or agitated
- Negative self talk
- Trouble saying no
- Feeling run down
- Making more mistakes
- Mood swings
- Lack of focus or motivation
If you see any of these signs within yourself, or a combination of them and you feel like things are getting too much. Stop. You are overwhelmed.
2. Create Distance
Remove yourself and create some distance between you and that which is causing you to feel overwhelmed. Whether it is work deadlines, your family or maybe life is piling problem after problem on your shoulders...The best thing to do is physically remove yourself. So, drag yourself away from your computer, away from your family, away from what is making you feel overwhelmed (as hard as it is - I know!) and sit down elsewhere. I quite like my bedroom, door closed, quiet, with a heavy weighted fluffy blanket along with a nice relaxing cup of tea or hot chocolate.
3. Calm Down
The next thing is to calm down and return to the present moment. Doing a few calm down techniques can help:
- Breathing exercises - concentrate on your breath
- Use your senses - What can you see, what can you feel, what can you hear, what can you smell and what can you taste?
- Do something physical like yoga, Tai-Chi, or another slow moving meditation
Do what ever makes you feel calm and draws you into the present moment quickly.
Once you are in a much calmer state, you can then begin to release - whatever this means to you. This could be journaling, talking to a loved one or a professional. It could be holding up a worry doll or a teddy or a pillow and expressing how you feel. It could also be confronting someone, crying, shouting or venting. How ever you feel like you need to release safely and healthily, do that. This will help you to process what's making you feel overwhelmed, it can help you to find clarity, reframe the situation and put things into perspective. It will also help you to feel and express your emotions, allowing your emotion to pass through you and then away, lessening the intensity.
5. Chance Focus and Create Something Beautiful
You have distanced yourself, you have calmed down and you have released your pent up emotion. You can now change your focus and create something beautiful. Time to take a complete break and do something that you love. Whether this be crafting, going for a beautiful walk, reading a nice book, listening to some uplifting music or baking a delicious cake. Whatever you decide to do, make it something you love, that creates joy and pleasure.
Now it is time to smile. You have taken a much needed break and have just finished doing something you love, you feel lighter, you feel relieved and you feel calm - what's not to smile about?
With a fresh mind and body, you are now in a place where you are ready to seize the day again. You are energized, you are focussed, you are ready for action - with your fabulous smile of course.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed too often, remind yourself to take regular breaks to recharge when you need them. Generally (I appreciate this may not be the case in some scenarios), when you feel overwhelmed, it is because you have not allowed yourself to rest regularly, or taken the time to process and deal with everything ahead of or around you.
Schedule in breaks, set alarms, plan to do things that you love in your breaks to entice you to take them and place notes where you need to, to remind yourself that you will not be able to complete tasks to the best of your ability if you don't take the time to refocus. And you will not be your best self if you do not take the time to recharge and process what you need to.
I hope this helps.