Let’s just face it. Many of us are living in a perpetual state of stress and at worst, overwhelm.
Overwhelm is a heightened state of stress so great it overcomes you.
So when we say someone is overwhelmed we mean they are overpowered by something, and they feel helpless.
There is just too much going on, and whatever it is has rendered you powerless to manage it.
What are the causes of overwhelm in many cases?
There are many situations in life that can cause overwhelm. In our modern world, life is fast and so much is expected by society.
And further and the worst-case scenarios, tragedies happen, life circumstances can change tremendously in a bad way. So there are many reasons overwhelm can happen.
Let’s look at some reasons specifically that lead to one feeling overcome and powerless and overwhelmed.
Reasons why you may feel overwhelmed
#1 Having a mental health condition
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition like anxiety and or depression, you know how overwhelming certain situations can be.
For one with social anxiety, for example, having to be in a crowded place or with unfamiliar people or just people is overwhelming.
For others the trigger for overwhelm are many and at times they are things others take for granted.
Simple things can present themselves as these huge issues when you have anxiety or depression.
The brain seems to trigger one thought after another and they find it hard to dismiss things and let go.
It is also hard to get simple things done at times when you have depression.
Sometimes you may not even be aware that you have a mental health issue but just feel overwhelmed by certain situations.
It is worth it to discuss symptoms with a medical or mental health professional for a diagnosis and better management.
And also sometimes, overwhelming problems like a sudden critical illness like a stroke or a long debilitating illness like diabetes can lead to mental health problems such as depression.
So talk to your doctor about how you feel.
You are taking on too much
The most obvious reason for overwhelm is simply taking on more than you can handle at any one time. The trouble is sometimes we simply want to do it all.
Or we think we can do it all. Unfortunately, we learn the hard way when some things start to fall through the cracks and we realize too late we really cannot do it all when we became overwhelmed.
So take a moment and consider whether you can add one more thing to your schedule at any given time.
Learn to prioritize and cut back. Do the things that are crucial and let others go for the moment if possible.
#2 You lack boundaries
Maybe you have friends and family asking all manner of favors that take your time or money, or is just too much.
I know. These are the areas we need to draw boundaries in.
Maybe you can think of a few people in your life who just take and take. Or you are accepting to do so much that o you are overwhelmed by all the things you have going on all the time.
Saying no is hard for some. Do you find it hard?
You must then practice the art of saying no. Avoid giving explanations. Just say, I am afraid, at this time I can’t do that,” and leave it at that. Take control of your time, especially by not accepting to do so much for the people in your life. Have boundaries.
#3 Social media
Social media can be overwhelming. Have you looked at Facebook lately? So many people selling stuff and wanting your attention as you scroll. Lately, I find everyone is an expert in something and they are selling this or that and there are just too many messages online that it is exhausting.
It feels to me almost like an epidemic of all these coaches of mindest, business, name it and there is a coach for that. Just so much going on on social media. Sometimes we need a break from it all. It is mentally exhausting.
Then at times, it is being confronted by messages that may make you feel less than even as a business you look and see how well others are doing, you know selling causes, talking about 10k months, and so on. Or you compare to others looking so amazing and doing amazing things and you again feel like a failure. Remember, some are faking it hoping to make it.
And many show you what they want you to see. They choose the sparkle moments to show. Keep a balanced perspective when you see the pretty reels of people’s lives.
If you spend too much time on social media you feel depleted, overwhelmed.
Besides you may think you are just going to look see what your friends are up to and before your know it you have scrolled for hours, yet all the other things you meant to do in real life are still waiting.
And then you have to hurry to finish and meet your obligations for the day.
Social media can also leave you feeling inferior and it can wear down your self-esteem as you scroll through all the glamour and glimmer and stories of achievement.
This can leave you feeling like everyone is living the dream while you are struggling.
Yet for the most part, people are simply highlighting what they would rather you see.
They don’t show you their struggles. Their failures. It can be such an optical illusion, yet it can make you feel less than and overwhelmed with a sense of failure.
# 4 Unrealistic expectations
Sometimes the problem that causes the overwhelm is just being unrealistic in our expectations. This can happen in a few different ways.
It may be in just overestimating how much you can handle. Sometimes it is in thinking something you want to take on is going to be easier than you thought.
The best thing is to make sure not to overpromise what you can do. Also, know your limits and what you can handle. Tell the truth too to avoid disappointing or getting overwhelmed by taking on a bigger project that is way beyond your ability.
It is better to tell the truth on the front end than the truth to come out when for failure to deliver. You then end up looking really bad, not to mention how overwhelmed you may become as you struggle to finish that project.
# 5 Lack of self-care
Unfortunately, many of us don’t practice enough self-care. When you don’t take time to really fill your cup, it is easy for many things to feel overwhelming.
Self-care is many things. Sometimes it is just taking time to rest and take a break.
Self-care includes what we need to stay healthy.
Sleep is one area where more people fail to practice self-care. We try to burn the candle on both ends, staying up late into the night finishing work or even just watching TV or being on social media.
When you don’t sleep enough even small everyday things like even one more trip to the grocery store is hard.
Many in the western world are sleep deprived.
Other times we just need some time to ourselves not dedicated to work or child care, or house care, errands, and such. We need time to decompress.
And as part of that self-care, nutrition is important. What are you eating? A bad empty diet can easily lead to mental health depletion and inability to deal with much of life’s many turns.
Otherwise, if we are running on empty a small problem can cause feelings of overwhelming easily.
You must feed your brain to handle things. Did you know that most of the energy consumption occurs in the brain? We must power it, and we don’t do that by eating donuts for breakfast.
Make sure you eat food rich in vitamins, and minerals, high-quality proteins, healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids, and hydrate appropriately.
If you want to know just what to eat for better brain health see this post on 20 best foods for brain health.
Related posts: Depression Nutrition: Food that Improves Mood and Mental Health
Foods that Calm Anxiety and Reduce Stress Naturally
# 6 You are not very organized well
Planning and organization are important in keeping life manageable.
If you have too many moving parts and no plan on how to tackle each you will get frazzled and really may not make much progress.
When that happens then you feel things are out of control.
You may feel frantic trying coral so much.
It is best to keep lists of what needs to be done when and prioritize. What is the most important? What is most urgent?
As you plan you may need to prune the list and only do what is absolutely necessary if life is busy.
Learn how to prioritize and handle only the most important thing or scariest thing first. In other words, eat your frog. This book, Eat That Frog is a great guide on this concept that you may want to read to know why that is so crucial.
Procrastination eventually leading to overwhelming, although the opposite is also true. You may be procrastinating because you are already overwhelmed.
You can easily see how being in the habit of procrastination can lead to eventual overwhelm because if you wait till the last minute, all kinds of things can happen.
The task may end up being difficult than you thought, and you might find there may be things you need to have for a project that you do have since you are likely unprepared.
Many more can become overwhelming when you put off important tasks.
So the lesson here is to be proactive.
And plan to complete projects and tasks way ahead of schedule. And if you need some tips for overcoming procrastination, check this post.
Again, check out Eat That Frog, to help you break free from procrastination.
# 8 Challenging and tragic life events
Needless to say, life is unpredictable. We never know when a tragedy will strike and change our whole world. Some really challenging life events may include:
- Such an event like the death of a loved one is a very overwhelming time. There are so many emotions to process at such a time. The sadness can be overwhelming. And there is also so much stressful organizing and urgent things to do. It is why people come around to help, and caring support from friends and church are such a welcome relief. It is so important to also seek care in the way of the clergy, and a therapist for emotional stability.
- Other overwhelming situations that can happen maybe something like getting a bad diagnosis. Or a loved one is sick with a serious illness. These are terribly overwhelming times.
- Losing a job is a very hard and challenging time to deal with and can easily cause great overwhelm.
There are so many at time unspeakable tragedies that totally break one’s heart that can leave a person feeling really overwhelmed.
The key in many of these situations is to have people in your circle you can depend on for emotional support.
Of course in the case of job loss, you may need more than just emotional support.
You need help to find a new job or may need help to navigate the labyrinth that is our government’s financial help institutions. Still having social and mental health support is very important to keep emotional stability.
Sometimes you feel like you can’t really take one more thing going wrong. You feel bombarded, by one thing after another going wrong.
In this life, stressful and overwhelming events happen all the time. The best is to be prepared mentally, socially, and hopefully financially if possible to be in a position to handle challenging changes when they come.
#9 Financial instability
Financial instability can be a big problem. Not to diminish the issue but at times money can buy happiness.
While being rich doesn’t necessarily make you happy, it is still nice to be able to do the things like pay bills without worry.
Imagine having rent due, power bill due, water bill due, and yet you cant pay if you have no money because maybe you lost your job?
And in the last year, 2020, many people went through this overwhelming situation.
The inability to buy food and perhaps having to go to a food line is pretty overwhelming.
So lack of money to meet basic needs can make you feel powerless and defeated.
But even for those used to big money, financial difficulties can still occur.
If they have borrowed lots of money and business fails and they can’t pay, this is an overwhelming situation as well.
Financial instability is overwhelming as one feels out of control when there is an urgent threat that requires money to solve and money isn’t available.
# 10 Relationships problems
There are many reasons that a relationship problem can be overwhelming. One example of a common problem is abuse.
No one ever wants to be in such a relationship.
And it is one of the hardest problems for the victim to talk about.
People are afraid of being judged and also some are afraid of repercussions that can follow if the abuser knows one is looking for help or has told someone.
Abuse happens to both men and women but commonly, women.
One of the hallmarks of an abusive relationship is the financial constraints of the abused and that is one reason people stay in such relationships.
Other times, women especially, are afraid of ending a bad relationship for the sake of the children. Unfortunately, this is a bad choice.
Children observe the abuse, and children can tell when things are wrong even if they don hear the words or the acts of abuse.
So it is best to find a way to leave. The children may not always be happy, but it is a better choice for your own mental health and physical health.
And while teens especially can give one a hard time about a breakup, they are still better off not being in such an environment.
At times a relationship becomes bad for various other reasons. Relations can also end in a breakup or a marriage ends in divorce. All these are usually very overwhelming times.
#11 A very demanding job
A job can be demanding and even overwhelming for various reasons. One reason may be the expectations or requirements.
These can be too many too lofty, or too intricate, and if mistakes happen they can be too costly.
Such a demanding job is the job of a nurse. A lot is expected of a nurse.
Some shifts are overwhelming. As a nurse, you may have a very sick person who requires a lot of care, and still, your other five patients also require care.
If one patient is demanding in personality not just in care required or if you make a mistake, or are too tired, maybe not sleeping or eating well enough, overwhelm can happen.
Other jobs can be overwhelming also.
Sometimes it is having a mean demanding and unpleasant boss.
Sometimes the work environment is awful with bullies and just toxic. That too can lead to feelings of overwhelm.
Life is not easy and can become overwhelming at times. These are not all the reasons why one may feel overwhelmed. There are many more.
But the best thing is to be as prepared as possible. It is not always possible. But having and nurturing quality social relationships can help in times of great difficulties. Seeking mental health care is important to avoid a total breakdown in overwhelming situations.
We also have to learn to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. Sometimes having that perspective can help. It is easy to feel that only bad things happen and while mired in that feeling one can become overcome and overwhelmed.
And now over to you!
Tell me, have you ever felt a great sense of overwhelm? How did you manage?
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