Overwhelm is a 20-foot wave crashing into you. Repeatedly. It is a feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion. When we think a stressor is too great for us to manage, we feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed has many faces. Overwhelm might manifest as an intense emotion, such as anxiety anger or irritability; maladaptive thought process, such as worry, doubt or helplessness; and behavior, such as crying, lashing out or experiencing a panic attack.
Here are few subtle signs to show that you are overwhelmed and how to fix them :
- You are having difficulty sleeping or you are sleeping too much. Solution – Stick to a night time routine. This will hopefully (eventually) train your brain that it’s bedtime. Go to bed at a reasonable time each night (not too early, or too late). Practice relaxation exercises before bed to help calm the mind, such as meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, etc. Consume a soothing drink before bed, such as a chamomile tea. Fall asleep to a scent that helps foster relaxation and sleep, such as lavender.
- You are always tired, no matter how much sleep you get. Solution – All tips from No.1 apply. Eat healthy foods that give you energy. Exercise, not only provides mental health benefits, but may also tire you out enough physically to help you sleep and get a better night’s rest.
- You lack energy. Solution – Tips from Both 1 and 2.
- You are Anxious. Solution – Tips above will also apply here. Take little breaks throughout your day to help ease your nerves. For instance, going for a walk or grabbing a healthy snack, throughout the day. Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol. Find time to be active. Exercise helps relieve stress and improve mental health.
- You are stressed out. Solution – All tips above also apply here. At work, speak with your manager and ask for additional time to work on/complete tasks that have been stressing you out. Take a mental health day off work. Break large tasks down into small ones, and focus on completing the small ones (one at a time) instead. Establish more balance in your life, i.e. greater balance between work and play.
- You have a loss of appetite or you are overeating. Solution – try establishing an eating routine, by eating at regular times each day, and sticking to that. Your brain will learn to follow this. With loss of appetite, try eating smaller snacks throughout the day, and eating a bigger meal when you’re feeling most hungry. Eat healthy foods that give you the most nutritious and energy, often these will have you feeling full longer (i.e. healthy fats and protein). Limit caffeine intake as this will also add to loss of appetite. Exercise, and reducing your stress and anxiety (with the tips mentioned above), can also help you establish and maintain healthy eating habits.
- You have difficulty focusing. Solution – Break down large tasks into smaller ones. Establish a plan of action, and write your plan down. When things are written down, they can become easier to follow. Make lists and check off completed items as you go. Take little breaks throughout your day to refuel and refocus the brain.
- You lack motivation. Solution – Check out the tips I’ve mentioned in the sections above, they apply here too. Take some time for yourself and implement self-care strategies.
- You’re keeping to yourself more. Solution – It’s okay to take some time for yourself. Take this time to improve your well-being by doing activities you enjoy, such as reading a book, watching a movie, etc. Implementing much needed self-care strategies will help re-energize you, reduce the effects of you feeling overwhelmed, and get you back to being your healthy ad balanced self.
- You are Moody/Emotional. Solution – Speak with your doctor if you are feeling depressed, or are concerned about your overall emotional state. Confide in a good friend, it helps to feel heard. Try counselling. Take time for yourself and implement the self-care strategies mentioned all above (and others that are effective for you).
There is nothing wrong with fulfilling your responsibilities, obligations, and duties. However, you must know how to draw the line between working for a living and living for your work. As I’ve experienced, being “too busy” reduces the quality of your life. Remember that balance is key to everything.