How to Manage Feeling Overwhelmed
Updated: Jan 4
Being overwhelmed can make it very difficult to think properly and focus on important tasks. If you are overwhelmed, you may react very strongly to seemingly small situations, have difficulty focusing or have a poor mood. This occurs when the stress and emotions we feel outcompete the resources, energy and ability we have to overcome them. Often, there isn't just one stressful or upsetting experience that causes overwhelm, but many events accumulate over time to cause it. Below are some strategies to manage feeling overwhelmed.
1. The STOP Technique
Stop; pause what you're doing.
Take slow, deep breaths.
Observe your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
Proceed with a focus on only one task at a time.
2. Examine Your Focuses and Stressors
Examine what you're currently focused on or stressed about and determine why these things deserve your attention right now. For example, contemplate whether these things are relevant right now, whether they need to be done right this moment, and whether there is something that is more important (e.g. sleeping or taking care of your mental health). This can help manage feelings of overwhelm by showing you that what you're focused on or stressed about is not actually as imminent or important as your overwhelmed mind leads you to believe. This can also help you determine which tasks to turn down to prevent further feelings of overwhelm and to allow yourself to fully focus on the most important things.
3. Take a Break
Taking a break may seem counterintuitive when you are stressed about something, but taking a break can actually increase productivity since it allows you to reset and refocus. Some good ways to take a break are to do deep breathing exercises (click here for exercises), take a walk, take a nap, call a friend or family member, do grounding exercises (click here for exercises), or do meditation (click here for exercises).
4. Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down your overwhelming thoughts and feelings can help you process these thoughts and get them off your chest. If you find that facing your thoughts is very difficult or distressing, seek support from a professional (click here for resources).
5. Seek Professional Support
If you find that your overwhelming thoughts or feelings are distressing and disruptive, seek support from a professional. Click here for resources to help you find professional support.
To read more about being overwhelmed and how to fight this feeling, click here.