Things to Do When You’re Overwhelmed
Updated: May 27
Some day can be a challenge. It can be draining and at some point, we get overwhelmed. A lot of us are consumed with the responsibilities and even being trapped in a rat race. The modern world is moving faster than ever, and it seems as if we will never catch up to all the competing priorities and challenges of our time. When we feel overwhelmed, it is important that we take a step back and breathe.
Here are some tips to help you when everything feels overwhelming:
1. Prioritize Self-Care
At one point or another, everyone goes through a tough time. Whether it’s financial woes, a messy breakup, a tragic loss, or just the pressure of daily responsibilities, its hard to stay grounded and feel balanced all the time. And when stress, anxiety, and worry start to take over, life can become overwhelming and you may start to feel burned out.
Start to create a healthier relationship with yourself, with food, your body, and weight, then you can feel your best . You can check in with yourself and recognize if you’re feeling out of balance and stressed. Looking for 33 simple ways to practice self-care? Click here.
2. Shift Your Perspective
The key to shifting your perspective is to remember what you're aiming for, what is most important for you.
If you feel like you aren't learning anything, look around, search for opportunities. Chances are, someone around you knows something you don't -- and you can ask them questions. You can use every situation in your life to create moments of growth and opportunity. Pay attention to the little things around you and use those opportunities to celebrate the small victories.
3. Breathe Deeply
Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you feel relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Or think about how you breathe when you first wake up in the morning or just before you fall asleep.
Deep breathing is one of the easiest ways to decrease stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply.
Breathing exercises can help you relax because they make your body activate your sympathetic system (relax, repair and digest) and stop the "fight or flight" response.
Meditation may feel like an extra burden if you already lead an overwhelmed life.
However, the reality is that practicing meditation will help you to be more productive and accomplish more during the day.
There's only a limited amount of time each day. But many of us get trapped in trying to accomplish more than is humanely possible. Is this what’s happening for you?
Meditation will also help you to prioritize your tasks. The more grounded and conscientious you are, the more focus you are. Meditation has so many benefits.
5. Slow Down and Manage Your Time
Most of us know that we could be managing our time more effectively, but it can be difficult to identify the mistakes that we're making and to know how we could improve. When we do manage our time well, however, we're exceptionally productive at work, and our stress levels drop. We can devote time to the interesting, high-reward projects that can make a real difference to a career.
Focus on habits that can transform your life, such as exercising, tracking what you eat, developing daily routines, and meditating. These habits replace bad habits and solicit other good habits. As a result, you’ll be healthier, more focused, and better suited to manage your time.
On another note, managing your time sometimes means learning to say 'NO'. Yes, we don't want to disappoint anyone. But, you can only handle so much. If you already have a full plate then you can decline that party invitation or helping your colleagues on a project until you have the spare time.
6. Move Mindfully
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. While mindfulness is something, we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.
Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur. It improves our well-being. It helps in becoming fully engaged in activities and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. Also, scientists have discovered that mindfulness improves physical health in a few ways. It can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. In addition, psychotherapists in recent years have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to our inner sensations (mental, emotional, and physical).
Ana's YouTube Channel has many tools to improve your mindfulness.
7. Unplug – Go On a Digital Fast
Also known by various other terms like “digital detox,” “digital Sabbath,” and “unplugging”, the idea behind a digital fast is to voluntarily and deliberately stop using all connected devices – smartphones, computers, tablets, and so on – that plug you to the internet for a pre-specified amount of time.
Going device-free can be uncomfortable and stressful at times. Some people are so addicted to their phones, that they might feel annoyed, anxious, and even bored without the devices. While it may be hard, it can be a rewarding experience. Studies have found that the mere presence of a mobile device, even if you aren’t actively using it, lower empathy levels and decreased conversation quality when interacting with other people, a phenomenon researchers have dubbed ‘the iPhone effect.’
8. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep may seem like a waste of time. You could instead be answering e-mail, doing the dishes, or doing something you think is more important. But, research shows that you're more likely to succeed at your tasks—and enjoy greater well-being—if you get a good amount of sleeping.
Of course, it's not easy to sleep when you're feeling overwhelmed. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they lose sleep because of stress. That's especially unfortunate because sleep combats some of the fallout of stress, and poor sleep has been linked to significant problems. And that makes sleep even more important to help your body to relax and repair.
Start to create a pleasant routine before going to bed and you will start to look forward to going to bed. This will help your brain to relax before you even lie down in bed. Perhaps, start to dim the lights a few hours before going to bed, have an earlier dinner, take a bath, play some music, etc.
9. Know When to Walk Away
In both our personal and professional lives, there are times when reality dictates that we must stand up and "end" something.
Endings are necessary. They are an essential part of life. Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something's time has passed and to move on to the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings.
Embrace and welcome what is happening now, because you are in a great spot to really start making some profound changes, and dramatically redirect the course of your life. What is happening to you now is actually a really, really a good thing.
10. Go Easy on Yourself
When you hit a rough patch, what does your self-talk sound like? For some of us, in those moments, our inner voice comes on like a drill-sergeant full of harsh words and criticism. Even people who are naturally supportive and understanding of others may find it hard to offer the same kindness to themselves.
An area of behavioral science research observing self-compassion is taking a closer look at how kindly or unkindly we view ourselves, and the effects on mood, health, and overall well-being. Growing research from this field indicates that people who are self-compassionate tend to be more optimistic, resilient, satisfied in life, and generally happier than their tougher-talking counterparts.
When you are hard on yourself for a failure or mistake then relax a bit and go easier on yourself. Make a habit of celebrating your small daily and weekly successes. No matter how small it is, it is still a success. Thus, give yourself a tap on a back. Remind yourself to keep the motivation and self-esteem up.
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