10 Great Things to do When You’re Overwhelmed

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If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the stresses and pressures of life, please know that you are not alone. In recent years, the demand for mental health help in the United States has risen dramatically. In today’s post we discuss causes, warning signs, and potential solutions for feeling overwhelmed.

What Does it Mean to Be Overwhelmed?

Being overwhelmed means that the amount of stress and pressure that you’re currently experiencing is more than you can easily deal with. Clinicians sometimes describe this as emotional overload.

It’s important to understand that feeling overwhelmed isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply a signal that there’s a disconnect between the demands that have been placed on you (or that you’ve placed on yourself) and your ability to manage these expectations in a healthy manner.

What Causes Someone to Become Overwhelmed?

The following are a few examples of the many circumstances and scenarios that can lead to feeling overwhelmed:

  • Your boss overburdens you with large tasks and short deadlines, and doesn’t give you the tools and support you need.
  • You recently lost a loved one through death, divorce, or another permanent separation, and you’re struggling with the emotional impact of this loss.
  • You’re trying to meet all of your personal and professional responsibilities while either dealing with a medical concern or caring for a loved one who is ill.
  • You’ve had a major life change, such as the birth of a child, buying a house, moving to a different town, or being promoted at work.
  • You’re extremely concerned about the impact of issues such as climate change, COVID-19, global conflicts, and political upheaval, but you don’t feel like you’re capable of making a meaningful difference.

Symptoms of Being Overwhelmed

Before you can decide what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to be aware of the problem. There’s no universal set of symptoms for this phenomenon, but if any of the following sound familiar to you, you may be dealing with emotional overload:

  • You’re having trouble maintaining your focus and concentration.
  • You’ve begun to forget appointments, misplace items, and otherwise struggle with memory-related problems.
  • You feel like you’ve lost the ability to control your emotions. Even minor setbacks or inconveniences can prompt outbursts of anger or sadness.
  • You find it difficult to get out of bed and start your day. This can involve both physical and emotional exhaustion.
  • You have started to develop headaches, stomach aches, muscle tension, and other physical symptoms that aren’t related to any medical condition.
  • You have brief episodes during which you feel that you’re being smothered or choked. This may be accompanied by chest pains, racing heart, blurred vision, and dizziness or lightheadedness. 
  • Your default reactions are negative and pessimistic. When confronted with a challenge, you assume you will fail. When presented with an opportunity, you immediately focus on everything that can go wrong.

10 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

The effectiveness of the following suggestions for what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed can vary considerably from one person to the next. So, when you’re reading these tips, don’t try to determine which one is the “best” – instead, try to find a few that will work for you:

  • Slow down: If you’re feeling overwhelmed because of the amount of work you have to do, it may seem counterintuitive to slow down. But if you’re rushing through one project while already thinking about the next, the likelihood of making mistakes and falling further behind is high. Take a deep breath, devote your full attention to the task in front of you, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
  • Focus on your breath: The “deep breath” that we mentioned in the previous suggestion can be a valuable response when you’re feeling overwhelmed. But you don’t have to stop with one breath. Take a few moments to inhale deeply and exhale slowly, while doing your best to focus on nothing but your breath. 
  • Concentrate on all five senses: Pause to focus on each of your five senses, one at a time. From where you are right now, mentally list five things that you can see. Identify four things you can hear. Notice three things you can touch. What are two things you can smell? What’s something that you can taste? As with the breathing exercise we just described, this is an excellent way to ground yourself, so that you’re fully present in the moment.
  • Write in your journal: Sometimes, the simple act of writing a description of what you’re feeling can be enough to dissipate unpleasant emotions. Journaling can also help you notice patterns that you may not have been aware of, which can help you identify the root cause of your distress.
  • Make a plan: Break bigger tasks into smaller steps, which will allow you to chart your progress. Set realistic timelines for accomplishing everything. If your planning efforts reveal that you simply cannot get everything done, you’ll have the documentation you need to justify changing the priorities and expectations. 
  • Move your body: Exercise can be a magnificent way to manage stress. Find an activity that you enjoy, such as going for a walk, playing with your dog, hitting the gym, or working in your garden. 
  • Contact a friend: When you’re feeling overwhelmed, resist the urge to isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to a close friend or a trusted family member. As with journaling, sometimes simply verbalizing what you’re dealing with can be beneficial.
  • Help someone else: One of the best ways to momentarily take your mind off your own struggles is to focus on helping someone else. There are many ways to do this, such as mentoring a colleague, helping a student with their homework, or volunteering with an organization in your community. 
  • Talk to a professional: Seeking professional help isn’t a sign of failure. If anything, it’s evidence that you have hope for the future, and that you’re willing to work hard to achieve the quality of life you deserve.

Types of Therapy That Can Help

Depending on the nature of your struggles with emotional overload, the following types of therapy could be beneficial:

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) sessions can help you identify self-defeating thought and behavior patterns, then guide you through the process of developing healthier ways of viewing the world and interacting with others.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) sessions focus on developing skills such as distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness – all of which can help you if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed.
  • Electromagnetic brain pulsing treatment (EBMP) is a safe, noninvasive technique that uses electroencephalograms (EEGs) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to improve cognitive functioning.
  • Vibroacoustic therapy uses the healing power of sound vibrations to stimulate neuropathways that are associated with relaxation.

When you get help at a comprehensive treatment center such as Conscious Health, your treatment team can assess the full scope of your needs, then select the therapies that align most closely with your needs and goals.

Contact Conscious Health About Our Therapy Options in Los Angeles, California

Conscious Health offers a variety of therapies and support services to help people who have been feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of life. At our mental health treatment center in Los Angeles, you can receive the focused care that will put you on the path toward a much healthier and more hopeful future.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.

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