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August 01, 2023
Overwhelm can manifest itself in a variety of ways. You are feeling more irritable towards your kids or spouse. You feel that you can’t concentrate on a task. You’re having trouble making decisions, solving problems, or can’t seem to get anything done. You are seeking external sources such as drugs, alcohol, or food to cope. Whatever you’re experiencing, you’re feeling overwhelmed. The first step into processing your overwhelm is diagnosing what type of overwhelm it is. Let’s dive into the 2 types of overwhelm and how you can overcome each one.
Genuine overwhelm stems from circumstances that genuinely induce overwhelm, anxiety, and stress. They could be unfortunate life challenges such as illness, death, or familial troubles. They can be from serious financial stressors or lack of work opportunities. If you feel that your overwhelm is genuine, the key is to take the right steps to manage it. You must first diagnose where the overwhelm is coming from. In order to do this try this exercise:
Sit down and give yourself the space to understand what is going on internally. Ask yourself, where is my overwhelm coming from? Am I overwhelmed by the number of things I have to get done or am I overwhelmed by a serious matter? What do the sensations I am experiencing feel like?
Write down or speak out loud the things you CAN & CANNOT control. Focus only on the things you can control & give yourself the permission to let go of the things you cannot. If the overwhelm persists, try one of the following coping skills.
Whatever your troubling circumstances are, think about these 4 things:
Absolute best possible outcome. If everything worked out perfectly, what would that circumstance look like?
Absolute worst possible outcome. If everything fell apart, what would that circumstance look like?
Identify the middle option. What is in between both extremes?
Finally, assess what is most likely to happen. Oftentimes, it's the middle option. Our minds love to jump to the black or the white... but let's be honest, we live in a world full of "gray!"
Sometimes we do things out of habit, tendency, or expectation. It is important to ask ourselves, “are the things that are causing me overwhelm actually serving me?” If they are not, try this.
If you truly are doing something out of your benefit & choosing, switch the statement from:
I have to... I should... I must...
I get to... I want to... I choose to…
If the action is not in your benefit, choose a different action or mindset that does benefit you.
Maybe your overwhelm is amplified from feeling like you aren’t making any progress. It is important to give yourself credit where credit is due. Try this.
Reflect on things that have gone well in your day. Did you play an active role in making things positive? What did these choices or actions look like? Highlight the progress and good things you have done!
Next, think deeper about your life. What specific choices have you made that lead to a positive result? What tough situations have you overcome in the past? Highlight the role you played in each one of these situations.
Finally, what talents and skills did it take to achieve that? Take a moment to be proud of what you have accomplished- both in the recent and long past! You are a rockstar and completely deserve credit for becoming who you are today.
Unnecessary overwhelm stems from feeling overwhelmed from things that don’t deserve the amount of attention or care you are giving them. You are unnecessarily stacking up anxiety, stress, and overwhelm on yourself. When it comes to this type of overwhelm, it is important to 1) allow yourself the space to feel your feelings. But 2) realize that the overwhelm isn’t as big of a deal as we are making it.
If you feel this type of overwhelm, give yourself the space to feel your feelings. Reach out to a friend. Even say “hey, i know i am overreacting but I just need a little space to vent.” Saying out loud that you know you’re overreacting will bring down the temperature of your feelings. Get it all out. Vent to your friend. After you have given yourself some time, move forward. Don’t dwell in those feelings longer than you need to. If you’re looking to overcome this type of overwhelm, try any of these coping skills below.
Identify and write down the distressing situation. Describe the situation in as much detail as you can think of.
Write down the things you can control about the situation.
Write down the things you can not control about the situation.
Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and give yourself permission to let go of the things you can't control.
One of the best antidotes to overwhelm is gratitude! Try this simple exercise involving gratitude to radically shift your thinking.
Take a moment to identify as many unique things about your life that you are grateful for.
Think of people who you love and care about. Take a minute to reach out to them and tell them thank you, why you are grateful for them, and give them a specific compliment.
Ask a trusted, close individual what they think are your greatest gifts & talents you can offer the world?
Think about your greatest accomplishment. What are you most proud of?
Think of the greatest challenge you have gone through in your life. What growth. experience, skills, or knowledge did you gain going through this?
1) Take a moment to breathe. Remove yourself from the situation - even if it is just mentally.
2) Give yourself time to reflect on things that make you laugh. Ask yourself - "when was the last time I actually laughed out loud?" Do you need to spend a little bit of time scrolling tik-tok for cat videos? Do you need to watch a light hearted comedy? How can you incorporate laughter into your day?
3) Give yourself time to reflect on things you find enjoyable, playful, & fun. When was the last time you did those things?
4) Take time out of your present or future day. Prioritize doing the things that light you up, energize, and inspire you. Do you enjoy playing tennis? Do you enjoy going for walks? Do you want to watch the latest hit reality TV show? Prioritize daily fun amidst your busy schedule.
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