We all feel overwhelmed at some point, either in our work life or home life. This is a natural way to feel when we have lots of demands placed on us with a short timeframe to achieve them all. If we dwell on these feelings of overwhelm then that will have a negative impact on our lives through our mental health and also our productivity. Too much of any stress can make us feel overwhelmed and it can sneak up on us without even realising. If you find yourself feeling this way and needing to take a break, then try our 15 things to do when feeling overwhelmed, and see if they help ease your feelings.
#1 Breathe Deeply
We have talked before about different breathing techniques and strategies in our blog here. If you find one of these strategies that work for you, then when you are feeling overwhelmed you can take control of your breathing and regain some power in the situation. It can be as simple as taking 5 minutes, breathing 6 or 7 deep breaths per minute. This will help slow your heart rate, and will instantly help you to feel calmer.
#2 Rethink your situation
Sometimes, our stress comes from the way we look at the situation we are in. If we take time to think about our situation from a different perspective, we can feel less stressed. Cognitive behaviour therapy can help to see things differently and how to understand that the way we think about things plays a big part in how we see them.
It is a common known fact that exercise is good for our mental health. It doesn’t have to be a full-on gym workout or a gym class. It can be a walk or a jog, a bike ride or some yoga. Whatever you do for exercise, try to work it into your day, even better if you can do it in the middle of the day. That way you can separate the morning and afternoon easier.
#4 Take an emotional time out
This means that you do something that has nothing to do with your work. Read a book, watch an episode of your favourite series, anything that means that you take an hour or two away from your problems and you are physically somewhere else. This will make you remember that there is a big world out there, not to do with work, and it may help change your perspective of things.
#5 Speak to someone
This could be a friend or significant other or family member. It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as you talk. This can be a talk about how you’re feeling, but try to make the conversation have another focus after that. Talk about something completely unrelated to how you are feeling with someone close to you and you’ll be surprised how much stress you will feel melting away.
#6 Write it down
More often than not, things feel more manageable when they are written down. It might be a brain dump at the end of the day before you go to sleep to help you get all the stuff out of your head that you are worried about. It might be a list to do over the next few days which you can then cross off. However you write it down, you will be able to think clearer with it out of your head and on paper.
#7 Drink water
Water is known to improve our mood. If we are able to drink the recommended intake of water every day we will feel healthier and more balanced. Water is important for brain function and if we are properly hydrated then our stress levels will be lower to begin with.
#8 Have a clear up
Tidy desk, tidy mind, is a saying used a lot in the workplace. If your desk or work area is cluttered, then this will not help to make you feel less stressed, it will add to it! Another idea is to find a small area of your house that you have been meaning to sort and get it sorted. You will feel better for taking the break away from what was making you feel overwhelmed and also got something positive done.
#9 Remember, it is natural
Feeling this was is completely natural and normal. Everyone feels overwhelmed at some point, some people more often than others. Feeling overwhelmed is your mind’s way of telling you to slow down if you want to live a healthier life. Think of it as your body’s way of trying to help you through difficult times then you may find it easier to work with the feelings and improve them.
#10 Think positive thoughts
If you spend lots of time thinking about how bad you are feeling, how stressed you are and how you can’t see a way out is not helpful and will not help to remove your feelings of overwhelm. Try to steal away a few minutes to think about a “happy place”. Close your eyes and reflect on the positivity you have in your life and how that makes you feel. You will quickly feel calmer.
#11 Recall this emotion
It is very probable that you have felt this emotion before. Think about the last time you felt this way and how you overcame it. Did it really end as bad as you thought it would? Successful people understand that every experience is valuable, whether good or bad. Spend a moment thinking about how you got over this emotion before and how you will be able to again this time.
#12 Smell something soothing
Aromatherapy is known for helping you when feeling stressed to calm down quickly. Lavender in particular is linked to help aid symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. You could light a candle of a scent you like, burn some oil or spritz the room you’re in with a room spray.
#13 Relax your muscles
This technique can help you to feel calmer and more able to deal with the situation you are facing. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you tense and release all of your muscle groups, which then in turn makes you feel relaxed afterwards as you can feel the tension being released. You can feel the improvement in your body within seconds and then this can in turn help your mental state to improve too.
#14 Achieve something else first
If the thing you are trying to complete is what is making you feel overwhelmed, then take a break from it. Focus your attention onto something else for the time being, another task that needs completing. As long as the first task doesn’t have an imminent time limit on it, then complete something else instead. You will feel better for taking a step away and also get something else ticked off!
#15 Say no
This is a big one as it is not that easy for some people. We all want to help and accept what we are asked to do, but sometimes you need to think about your mental health. It is better to get a small amount of things accomplished well, rather than take on too much and end up experiencing burn out. It may even be that you have to say “I know I said yes before, but now I can’t”.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT are Cognitive Behavioural Therapists or Psychologists, offering 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.