Do you suddenly feel like you want to cry? Or do you just want to run away?
You might be emotionally overwhelmed.
And you wouldn’t be the only one. An American Psychology Association survey says a lot of people are feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s happening.
If you’re one of them, don’t ignore it. You wouldn’t want to burn out or reach an emotional crisis.
Let’s look at things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
17 Things that Help When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
What Does Being Overwhelmed Feels Like?
Getting overwhelmed is not uncommon nowadays. But, many people don’t know what they’re feeling. So, how can you tell if you’re feeling overwhelmed?
You might be overwhelmed if you:
- gets easily irritated
- try to do something but end up quitting
- have a constant mind tornado going on
- can’t think or act normally
- are distracted all time
- find yourself constantly zoning out
- you feel like crying without an obvious reason
- you have sudden emotional outbursts
Why Do You Get Overwhelmed?
Overwhelm is something that happens both occasionally or for a long time. The reasons can vary from person to person, but some common causes can be:
- excessive workload
- past trauma
- relationship problems
- bad sleeping habits
What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed
1. Take a Step Back
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you must take a break. Drop every possible responsibility and do nothing. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, just as long as you can and need.
Taking a break will clear your mind before taking any other action. Also, it will prevent a burn-out, which is more difficult to recover from.
2. Name your Feelings
Behind overwhelm, there are more complex emotions. Take the time to go through. Try to pinpoint what is exactly that is making you overwhelmed. Are you stressed? Are you sad? When you name everything that you’re feeling, you can act accordingly.
3. Identify the Causes
After your mind is clear, it’s time to identify the causes for your overwhelm. Check out your lifestyle and your work. Answer honestly:
- Do you have a balance between life and work?
- Are you taking enough free time?
- Are you doing things that you love?
Identify those things that cause you stress and anxiety. Take out whatever you can cut. Then, work on improving the rest.
4. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are not limited to yoga sessions. They’re helpful if you include them in your daily routine. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, breathing exercises can help you with grounding and mindfulness.
Here is a short breathing exercise by Headspace.
5. You’ve Been Here Before
If a sudden situation overwhelms you, give yourself an important reminder:
You’ve been here before.
You’ve felt like “it was too much” or like “you couldn’t handle it”. But, you pulled through. This doesn’t mean you have to pull through everything every time. It is ok to walk away when it’s necessary.
But, you just need a simple reminder. You’ve got what it takes to deal with difficult situations.
6. Share the Load
There are occasions when you’ll feel overwhelmed because you’re trying to do too much at the same time. It can happen either with your personal life or your work.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by trying to do too much, then you need to let go of control. Let go of some of those responsibilities and delegate them. Just take the necessary workload.
Is ok to skip the extra mile occasionally.
7. Sleep on It
The best way to cool down when you’re feeling overwhelmed is to sleep. Simple and incredibly effective. Sleeping is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health.
An article from WebMD says:
Another thing that your brain does while you sleep is process your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognize and react the right way. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones.
8. Practice Gratitude
Different life situations can make you feel overwhelmed. A change in administration at work or divorce can overload your mind. But, at those moments, you must shift your focus.
Look for things that make you happy and that you’re grateful for. A good way to keep a positive mindset is to keep a gratitude journal.
9. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is hard for everyone. But, when you’re emotionally overwhelmed, your mind is full.
It is all over the past, present, and possible future situations. That can be a lot to take. So, ground yourself in the present moment. Live one day at a time.
Here is a quick mindfulness exercise by Kyra Bobinet on Standford’s Medx:
10. Write About It
Journaling can be your greatest friend. Using a journal helps you to organize your thoughts while getting them out of your head.
You can choose to write morning pages, do a brain dump, or do a mood tracker in a bullet journal. You can read more about how to write a journal here.
11. Say No
Your feeling of overwhelm can come from having too much on your plate. That’s when you know: you need to say no more often. You see, your mind is asking you to take it easy, and you should. You might want to please everybody, but you should put your wellness first.
When was the last time you painted your nails or used a face sheet mask? Taking care of yourself is essential when you’re overwhelmed. It helps you relax and slow down. Think about how you would care for a kid after a fall. If you aren’t feeling good, treat yourself the same way.
13. Set Boundaries
People around you can overwhelm you. Or, if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, they can add to your problem. It can be with or without intention. But whatever the case, you need to create boundaries.
If necessary, explain how you feel to them and take a break from them. People who love you or respect you will understand.
14. Burn Some Energy
Sometimes, you need to tire the body to let the mind rest. You can choose to exercise, remodel your house or play with the neighborhood kids. Whatever you pick, make sure it is something that helps you burn energy and that it doesn’t add to your stress.
15. Unplug from Social Media
Nothing can be more overwhelming than scrolling through the internet. Just an hour is more than enough to submerge you in a pool of worries and problems. If you already have too much emotional load, rest from the internet.
16. What Can You Change?
When you’re worried about too many things, ask yourself: What can you do? It will give you an idea of what’s changeable and what’s not. Focus on the things that you can change. Ditch the ones you can’t control.
17. Consult a Therapist
Searching the internet for information about your mental health is ok. But, you should know when self-help is not enough. If you feel overwhelmed for a long time, visit a therapist. They are the best prepared to help you out.
Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
It is Ok
Feeling overwhelmed is ok. It doesn’t mean you’re a broken machine. It’s your mind trying to process everything that is going on. And it’s a signal that you need to slow down. You will and everything will be ok.
Your Mind is Betraying You
Sometimes, overwhelm is just your mind betraying you. For example, you can get the feeling that a task is too much for you when in reality, it isn’t. So remind yourself that sometimes you already have what it takes to deal with something.
It is Not New
Overwhelm isn’t probably something new to you. You’ve felt it before, and you pulled through. You can do it this time too.
Overwhelm can come from overthinking things. Instead of thinking too much, take action. You’ll feel better as you act on what was worrying you.
The Bottom Line
Every time you feel overwhelmed, find the possible reason. Take action to cope with your emotions. If you keep feeling off, always look for help.
What method do you prefer to cope with overwhelm? Write in the comments below!