The recent times have been particularly challenging on everyone – even if we had great mental health to begin with. The Coronavirus pandemic and the multiple lockdowns have changed the majority of people’s routines, limited their social life, tested their resilience and, for some, even brought a great deal of pain and grief through the loss of loved ones. Now that the restrictions have been eased completely, lots of people are struggling to deal with the changes that seem to be happening all too quickly. If you are returning to work or finding that your manager, friends, partner or peers are expecting you to re-enter life and ‘the new normal’ and it’s causing feelings of unease, you may be struggling with overwhelm.
What Does Overwhelm Look Like?
It’s good to understand what overwhelm looks and feels like so you can identify when it’s something you might be struggling with. It may feel like:
- Disproportionate emotional reactions to situations
- Feeling ill or fatigued
- Trouble concentrating, focusing or completing simple tasks
- Trouble with memory
- The desire to withdraw from friends and family
- Feeling muddled or confused for an extended period of time
What Is The Cause?
We have probably all used the term ‘overwhelmed’ to describe our emotions when we are feeling like there is just too much on our plates and too much to get our head around. Actually, when our body suffers from feeling overwhelmed, it is responding to a traumatic incident. For lots of people, this is where they disbelieve they are suffering overwhelm because the perception of trauma is a big incident, but many things can trigger a trauma response in our bodies, and the last few months have been a lot for us to get our head around.
The Physical Repercussions
Overwhelm is not just a negative feeling to overcome for our mental health but can also have detrimental effects on our physical health too. When we’re suffering from overwhelm, we can either forget to take care of ourselves or feel we need to prioritise other things before taking care of ourselves. That means that suffering can have physical signs such as skipping self-care such as washing, dental hygiene, eating food of poor quality or failing to eat some meals at all.
The key to overwhelm is clearing the mind, letting go of some worries and relieving the pressure.
- Write things down to clear your head of thoughts and emotions. It helps to do this in an unstructured way. Having a written stream of your conscious thoughts allows you to express yourself freely and getting those thoughts out of your head will be a relief.
- Say no. If you are feeling overwhelmed it may be that you are feeling under pressure. This may be from work and colleagues or it might be from friends and family. If there is something you feel under pressure to do, if you can say ‘no’ then do. Replace it with something that you enjoy doing.
- Be kind to yourself. Remember that feeling overwhelmed is OK. It also helps to remember that feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to last. Give yourself some grace – if you don’t get to those pots done, or the washing put away, it doesn’t matter. Your mental health should be a top priority.
- Approach things by doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking can confuse us, overwhelm us and reduce our productivity by as much as 40%. Try to focus on one thing at a time in priority order where necessary.
- Breathe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, a quick way to begin to alleviate those feelings is by doing breathing exercises. If the thing that’s overwhelming you is in front of you then take a step away from it to create some separation between you and whatever it is. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to promote relaxation and lower your stress response.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or are PsychologistsPsychologists, evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.