Overwhelm – How to Manage and When to Seek Help

22 Oct 2020

The recent times have been particularly challenging on everyone – even if we had great mental health to begin with. The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has 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 lockdown is easing, 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 with overwhelm, it is responding to a traumatic incident. For lots of people, this is where they disbelieve they are suffering overwhelm because the perception of a 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 with 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.

Managing Overwhelm

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
  • Write a to-do list that is achievable and prioritise the right thing
  • Delegate or ask for help if there are too many things to do
  • 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%
  • Take regular breaks to see the bigger picture
  • Breathe – long deep and slow deliberate breaths reduce stress and brain fog

If you continue to feel overwhelmed and as though you cannot handle everything on your plate, it’s important to ask for help. We offer in person and online therapy to provide tailored advice and strategy to managing and overcoming stress and overwhelm.