Overwhelm, 5 Hacks I use to help work through the feeling
Ever since suffering from burn out I have found myself (positively and negatively) more in tune with my negative emotions, and one of those feeling is the sense of being Overwhelmed.
Firstly, I need to comment, ( many comedian have stated before me and better than I will do), overwhelmed is such a funny phrase, as you can’t be just whelmed, it is a feeling of extremes you are either over or under. It is very hard to describe the feeling but you know when you are in it. Feeling like it is all to much, can’t take control etc.
I think in terms of mental health and general wellbeing, it isn’t necessary the word that people think of first, more likely people talk about being stressed, depressed or anxious. However, lots of people feel overwhelmed, pressure, lack of control and we need to talk about it, as similar to other mental illness or poor mental wellbeing by not talking or sharing it just gets worse.
As someone who has suffered from chronic stress before, you start picking up on the early warning signs and Overwhelm is definitely one of those. It can be the first feeling in the escalation to many more. If you can find a way to embrace the feeling and work past it, you can turn it all around and keep going with strong wellness
So here are a few tips that I use when I am feeling overwhelmed to see me through:.
Firstly, you need to just acknowledge and accept that you are feeling overwhelmed, that something/everything is just getting too much, your brain is going too fast, you can’t solve an issue, you are starting to feel a little sad, depressed, and anxious.
Battle one is just owning the feeling, acknowledge it and accept that is what you are feeling. There is nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed – most of us have.
I am also not saying you need to acknowledge this to anyone else besides yourself. The power works just as well by tell yourself, but sharing with others is also very benefit – even when you aren’t wanting help just others to know where you are mentally.
2. Ground Yourself
Next you need to ground yourself, as personally the worst part of feeling overwhelmed is that it can take you out of your body/head – not being able to figure out what will come next or where you are now.
A great way to do this is to practice a bit of mindfulness, bring focus on this exact moment and nothing else. I do a few different things depending on where and when I am feeling overwhelmed.
The last time I felt overwhelmed, I had left work and was walking home, so I just kept walking but focus my energy and thoughts on the feeling of my feet hitting the ground and how I was breathing.
Breathing is a really easy one to do anywhere (as no one needs to know you are doing it – in the office, bus, or at home). Slow the breathing down but focusing on doing a certain breathing pattern – in the nose, out the mouth, do that a few times and then then just holding the breathe inside for 4 counts.
Grounding and being in the moment will let the brain slow done and naturally will help at least slightly curve the worst of the feeling.
3. Break it Down
When you are grounded, you need to break down the actual feeling not that you have slow you bodies reaction to the feeling.
You can feel overwhelmed for numerous reasons, from having too much to do (that endless to do list) or being faced with something outside your control from a job interview or bad news.
For example, you got bad news at work, you brain starts going, you start thinking it will mean now have to do X job, which means can’t do X now, it completely unmanagable or don’t know what will happen next but could be X or Y etc. Or You have X, Y, and Z to do but you only have 10 mins of time to do it all in.
I find a great way to break it down, is to do a list or just write the feelings down and then just to work back from it. See if all those smaller itemised feelings are actually part of a larger issue.
I personally find that especially when I am feeling overwhelm, I am actually just projecting negatively on the future will hold. You start projecting outcomes, events, possibilities or future feelings.
How do you battle, those projections, firstly, remember you aren’t there that, you are in the now and the future will happen how it happens (very hard to actually think and believe, I know).
Try to break the feeling down into its core, not the projections or fears but the trigger event.
4. Take Control Now
When you have broken it down, to ideally the trigger- whether is a piece of bad news, a deadline or fear for the future, you need to then find a way to try to take control now of that trigger.Control makes everyone feel better (even if not a control freak) as the feeling of being overwhelm will diminish when you are taking positive action.
If you are feeling overwhelm due to a to do list, take actions to find what you can action now – whether is delegating, telling someone that something will not happen or just start working on the a single item of the list and do it one task at a time instead of looking at the entire list (bitesize).
If is bad news, such as a loss, put yourself in action, talk to a friend, write a letter expressing your feelings, just figure out what will happen today and tomorrow and not long further.
It is a lot easy to take control if you focus on NOW, and not the future, as you you start to projecting negatively, you are in the moment and that is all you have control over – the rest will work itself out.
5. Know It Gets Better
Hopefully at this point, you will have find yourself looking up and finding you aren’t overwhelmed any more (or at least less so, so is a manageable level). This is where the last tip comes into practice, the glory of Hindsight.
If you worked pass being overwhelmed before, you can reflect back on that horrid overbearing feeling and know that at some point you didn’t feel that way anymore, that it wasn’t that bad and it got better. Remember the feel of having worked through it, when you next feel overwhelmed, as that light can just be what it needed to take the edge off and reduce the ‘despair’ feeling of it being all consuming.
If this if the first time you are feeling overwhelmed (and really for everyone) the other key thing to remember is that you aren’ t alone, others have felt the exact same as you and they have gotten past it. Therefore just remind yourself that it does pass and that you can get past it, take great comfort in that feeling.
Feeling overwhelmed feels differently for each person and manifest differently for different situation and people – from an vast feeling of being out of control/body or can be mild stress, but either way I hope these tips will help to find yourself in a more positive, relaxed and grounded place, where you can take action and not be stuck in negative thoughts.
Feeling overwhelmed is perfectly normal and I hope this tips help you find better mental health and wellbeing. You deserve to not let that feeling take control of you, and to be kind to yourself.