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What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed?

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

Whether it's as a result of school, work, family, or relationships, feeling overwhelmed is a very natural part of life. With all our commitments, expectations, deadlines, and to-do's, getting everything done on time can often feel like an impossible feat.

So, when the world feels like it's just about ready to close in on you, and feelings of overwhelm threaten to be the death of you, it's time to take a step back, breathe, relax your mind then identify your course of action.

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While feelings of overwhelm are generally easily identifiable, sometimes the signs that you are overwhelmed may slip through the cracks; leaving you with endless problems that you can't seem to pinpoint the root causes of.

To help you identify where things might be going wrong or the reason you've been feeling stressed, anxious, overworked, or depressed of late, here are 5 signs you might be overwhelmed:

5 Signs That You Might Be Overwhelmed

1. Lack of Focus

With so many things to do, in so little time, focusing on one task at a time might seem unrealistic. In fact, you might even find yourself trying to do everything all at once (Confession: This is literally the story of my life, I promise I'm working on it though).

2. Inability to Prioritise

You've got a mile-long to-do list in hand, but you have no idea where to start. You probably even tell yourself that all your tasks are equally as important, so instead of organizing these tasks in order of importance you hide away under the duvet and pray for the best.

3. Difficulty Sleeping

With all the things you need to get done, your mind always seems to be going a million miles an hour. Yes, you've done everything you could possibly get done in one day, but your list of remaining to-do's feels neverending. So even though you are as tired as can be, the luxury of sleep continues to elude you.

4. Constant Exhaustion

When the problem's not losing sleep it's getting too much sleep. Try as you may to rest in hopes that your energy levels will be revitalized, regardless of how much sleep you get, it never feels quite like what the body needs, constantly leaving you feeling exhausted.

5. Anger at your Responsibilities

Admit it, you like to take on a lot more than you can bear (Guilty!) and when it becomes too much you respond by lashing out at your responsibilities and deeply regretting agreeing to them in the first place.

Now that you know what being overwhelmed may look or feel like, I think it's time we talked about what to do when feelings of overwhelm are threatening to make you lose your sh*t.

But just before we get to that, here are a few things to remember when you feel overwhelmed:

Things To Rememember When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

1. Things aren't as Bad as they seem

I know when we're overwhelmed our judgment gets pretty clouded. It might appear like this challenging season you are currently navigating has no end in sight, but believe me when I say things aren't as bad as they seem.

You'll get past this hurdle just as you did the others and when you do, you'll look back incapable of understanding how you once thought that this tiny mustard seed of a problem, could ever hold you back.

2. It's okay to say "No"

A large part of the reason many people (myself included), end up feeling overwhelmed is because they are afraid or simply just don't know how to say no. So here is the truth that needs to be said, while it's great that you always want to help people, never allow your continuous desire to help, to encourage you to take on more than you can handle.

Yes, saying "No" might piss off a few people off here and there, but the truth is, your mental health is important, and any task that's going to leave you feeling overwhelmed really isn't worth the headache.

3. You don't need to get it all done TODAY

Next to being incapable of saying no, another reason most people feel overwhelmed is because they set unrealistic deadlines. I get it though, as humans estimation really isn't our forte and as a result, we sometimes underestimate how much time a project might take us to complete.

In setting our deadlines we rarely ever take into account, the mental energy that will be required to complete the task, then end up taking on a ton load more than we can bear. The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try to take a step back, identify the things you absolutely need to get done today, then give yourself an extension on the completion of your other tasks.

Now that you know what the signs of being overwhelmed might look like and what you need to remember when these feelings of overwhelm threaten to overtake you, it's finally time we discussed what to do when you're feeling overwhelmed.

What To Do When You're Feeling Overwhelmed?

If you're feeling overwhelmed there are a ton of things you can do to cope. The strategy I use or you use, however, might not work for everybody. That said, I've compiled this list using the most common strategies people generally use to cope with feelings of overwhelm.

1. Listen To Your Body

When we are overwhelmed even before we ourselves are able to recognize it, our body can usually tell us if we only listen to it. If you've got a lot on your plate then chances are your body is telling you: 1) It's time to take a break, 2) Get some sleep, 3) Say no, or 4) You need to eat.

If your body has begun to tell you any of these things I encourage you to take heed as these warning signs if left unchecked could lead to adverse health problems.

2. Just Breathe

Even if it doesn't look that way in the moment, everything is going to be just fine. When you're feeling overwhelmed and waves of panic are on the horizon remember to breathe. You'd be surprised how much better you'll feel after doing a few deep breathing exercises.

3. Talk About Your Feelings

Generally when we're overwhelmed the last thing we want to do is talk about it. However, what I've found works pretty good for me when I'm overwhelmed is just getting on a phone call with a close friend or family member and putting to words all the pent-up emotions, I've been feeling.

Sometimes when I reach out to these people I'm looking for advice and direction, and other times I just need a sounding board to vent. Regardless of what I hope to achieve from the phone call, I can 100% guarantee that after it I usually feel 10x better.

4. Stop Adding More Things To Your Plate

Going back to my point that it's okay to say no, if you're already feeling overwhelmed then adding even more tasks to your plate will definitely not help your situation. It's time to start declining the extra work that's coming your way and instead focus on completing the tasks you already have.

5. Take A Mental Break

I think sometimes we forget that we're only human, even though we're ambitious and go-getter like in nature. Sometimes the whole reason you're feeling overwhelmed in the first place is because you aren't taking enough mental breaks. Remember you're not a robot so stop treating yourself like one.

6. Create An Actionable To-Do List

You've probably got a mile-long To-Do list which may be the whole reason you're feeling overwhelmed, to begin with, but is it actionable? Does it tell you how to go about tackling each task? Does it rank your task in order of highest to lowest priority? If not, then you know what needs to be done.

Closing Thoughts On What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

Try as we may to avoid it, somewhere along the line we're going to have a lot of things to accomplish in what may seem to be a limited amount of time. The thought of which can be pretty overwhelming.

It's important however that we don't allow these feelings to consume us. Instead when everything in our life feels too much to bear its important to remember that 1) you've overcome challenges before just as you will now, 2) there's no problem that a little mental break won't fix, and 3) things are never as bad as they seem.

As always thank you for reading. If you haven't already, go follow us on Instagram @survivingyour20somethings and on Facebook @survivingyour20somethings.

If you've felt overwhelmed in the past whether at home, school, or work I'd love to hear all about it and your top coping strategies in the comments below.

And of course, if you loved this post, don't forget to like, share it with a friend and pin it for later. Have an amazing week!!!

Juanique Tennant - Creative Writer and Blogger

Hi There!

I'm Juanique better known as Jae T.

A 20something on a mission to impart as many Life Hacks, Career Development Tips, and Adulting Tricks, to young adults looking not just to survive but thrive as they navigate year 20something.

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