Have you ever felt so overworked that you just couldn’t keep going, even if you wanted to? Have you ever been so intimidated by your workload that you can’t seem to start? Are you not coping well with the things happening in your life? These are common feelings when we’re feeling overwhelmed. However, being this is not just limited to work. It can happen when we feel so much emotion that we can’t control it like we normally do. It can feel like a heavy load on our shoulders, maybe even worse than any physical strain.
When emotions like stress, sadness, anger, and even happiness are too much, it can get in the way of how we function every day. Everything feels demanding and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. This is a common thing that happens to us every now and then. Sometimes, even our own ways of coping don’t work or even harm us to the point it’s self-destructive.
In this article, we’ll discuss what it feels like to be overwhelmed and how to cope with it properly. We’ll also be looking into what the problem might be. Is it your coping style or your current lifestyle? Sometimes it can be hard to really pin down, or maybe finding out why is overwhelming in itself. Either way, let’s first get down to what feeling overwhelmed is.
Chapter 1:What Is Feeling Overwhelmed?
It’s that feeling you get when everything feels so out of control. Sometimes we’re being pounded by intense emotions that we can’t control it anymore. Be it one big stressful event or many small inconveniences, it can happen at any time. The point here is that you’re stressing over something and you feel helpless. For many of us, even the most mundane of days can feel overwhelming.
What is burnout?
Many people who are not coping well, can experience burnout. Burnout is stress that you build up when you can’t cope well any longer. Is this the same as feeling overwhelmed? Not necessarily. In a way, burn out is the latter effect to too much overwhelming events. When these events aren’t addressed properly, it can become burnout. The end result can create a multitude of negative physical, mental, and social outcomes. So, what’s the difference?
For one, burnout is more of distancing yourself from work. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you want to work hard. In a way, you care too much about work. To finish the things you need to do, you bury yourself deep in work and that’s where all your energy is placed. For burnout, you detach yourself. You’re exhausted and you stop caring about what happens at the end of the day.
Another difference is that burnout is almost total helplessness. When something overwhelming happens, we still cope like we can fix this if we act fast and efficiently. Burnout is the feeling that no matter what you do, the situation is already out of your control. It’s like you’re giving up and saying, “This is too much. I don’t care anymore. Coping with this is hard.”
If you think about it, which would be easier to fix? Your feelings after you give up or before you give up when you think you can still fix it? Obviously, the latter, right? That’s why we need to tackle the problem when we’re already feeling overwhelmed rather than waiting for burnout.
What are the signs of feeling overwhelmed?
It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed. When can you say that you’re on your way to burnout? Is it when your load is too much? Is it when you think, “I don’t think I’ll finish this in time”? There are many ways to gauge your stress so here are a few signs you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- You panic about the smallest things. For some of us, it’s pretty normal to trip or drop things. However, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, even just dropping all your papers on the floor can cause a meltdown. You might even panic just because you can’t find that file you need for work.
- You feel sick. Your stomach churns, your head feels light, maybe you even want to use the bathroom. There are ways for stress to manifest and this is just some of it.
- You have a hard time focusing. Because you think that there’s so much to do, your mind might be somewhere else. Maybe it’s on the next task. Maybe it’s on something you’re looking forward to after. Eventually, you find yourself making mistakes in whatever you’re doing now as a result.
- You isolate yourself from friends and relatives. Why? That’s because if it’s unrelated to whatever you’re not coping with, these things can be distracting. You might also think your stress with seep into these relationships.
- Your emotions change your point of view. For example, when you’re not coping with your sadness over a loss, you tend to see things a little greyer. You might find yourself more pessimistic about pleasant things in life.
Chapter 2:When Is Being Not Coping a Problem?
It’s a problem when it gets in the way of what you’re doing or your coping style no longer works. What does that mean? For example, many of us cope with stressful events by relaxing. Sometimes we read a book, play games, or socialize with people we love. However, there will be times when these things just won’t cut it. No matter what you do, doing these things doesn’t make you happy or take your mind off it. That’s a sign that you’re not coping well to your situation.
Other times, we don’t realize it can affect the people around us as well. Someone might ask if you’re okay because you haven’t left your house in days. Your closest friends and family might even talk to you and say you haven’t talked in a while. Maybe you’ve even been reprimanded at work for not doing it well. A decrease in you’re capacity to work is a sign that you’re not coping well, too.
Chapter 3:Why Am I Not Coping Well?
Sometimes we know what’s going wrong, but most of the time, we don’t know why. It’s not easy to look inside and find the answer. Otherwise, we would’ve solved the problem already! It’s important to assess why exactly you’re not coping well. Try to ask yourself some questions about your situation. Is it something about you or outside of you? What are the things you can control? What about the things you can’t control? Is there someone or something that’s giving you a hard time? Here, we’ll look into some possible causes as to why you’re feeling overwhelmed.
You're not managing your expectations
We all have our own idea of what we want to be. Many of us want to achieve our goals in a short amount of time. Some of us just want to get home early to enjoy their free time. What is it that you want at the end of the day? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
You might be feeling this way because you’re not managing your expectations properly. Have you recently felt like you have too much on your plate? As if you don’t have time to finish your work or do the things you like? It might be that you’ve overestimated yourself. Maybe things just kept on piling up until you couldn’t handle it anymore. It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses.
You're so overstimulated, you're not coping
You may be familiar with the experiment with Pavlov’s dog and how he salivates at the sound of a bell. At first, Pavlov’s dog salivates because of the smell of his food, as anyone would. Whenever the food appeared, it would always be followed by a sound of a bell. Eventually, the dog would salivate at the sound of the bell, even without there being food.
This is the same concept as when you keep your phone notifications on. Imagine you always hear these sounds when you’re at work. Each ring or buzz is an alert for more work. Eventually, even without there being work, you might start associating the sound of your phone to that feeling of tiredness. As a result, it might feel like work is piling up when in reality, it’s just your phone or normal messages outside of work.
You have a hard time saying no
Many of us want to make a good impression at work or with friends. In short, we’re naturally people pleasers. Sometimes, it is easier to keep saying yes, even at your own expense. At least people like your work ethic or they praise you for working hard. It can feel good and part of us is okay with sacrificing some “me” time to save face. However, what happens when we keep saying ‘yes’?
You have no room to be yourself. When you have too much time for work, you loose time for yourself and that in itself is a problem. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and learn how to say no. While you can do things you set your mind to, you need to be rational about how much you can take at a time. You can’t always take care of others. Take care of yourself too. Learn to take a step back from anything mentally or emotionally stressing you out.
Chapter 4:Tips for When You’re Not Coping Well
When you’re feeling like the world is falling in on itself, it’s a new kind of torment. It feels helpless. Sometimes, it can leak into our relationships and our daily activities. We don’t want it to get to that so here are some tips that might help you. Note that these aren’t one-all-be-all solutions. You still need to find a way to cope that works for you. However, this may give you an idea of what might or might not work for you, which is an important stepping stone in getting better.
Figure out if you want emotional care or a solution
You know that feeling when you rant to someone about your feeling, then they immediately list down ways to solve your problem? Not everyone wants their problems solved right this second, especially when they feel emotional. Sometimes, it’s enough to process what’s happening and take care of how you feel first. When you’ve found out which you want (and you can want both, just not at once), discuss it with someone you trust.
Find something that calms you down
Finding a hobby is great, but not all hobbies calm you down. What you need after something stressful is something that takes the edge off. We don’t mean any substances. We mean an activity that not only takes your mind off things, but makes you happy. Some people listen to music to change their mood. Meanwhile, others cook, draw, write, or sing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a step back and do something else. Even if you’re not done with work yet, your mental health should come first.
Take care of yourself
We don’t just mean be happy like the last tip. We mean you should take care of your body. Eat healthy, exercise, quit vices, or get the full amount of sleep you need. You’ll find that taking care of your body will help relieve stress. You’ll find that a healthier body helps you feel better and ready for more things coming your way.
This one word is enough to keep people going. You need to focus. Of course, you might be feeling overwhelmed right now. So, maybe your approach should be a more focused approach. What we mean is that you can take a step back, and invest time to list down what exactly you need done, and when you need it done. Break down your tasks into chunks and take breaks in between. Turn off all distractions, like your phone notifications. Find your little corner where you can work without anything bothering you, and get yourself comfortable. You might find that once you get started, it feels a bit easier. Minute-by-minute, you’ll be closer to finishing your tasks.
Know when to ask for help when you're not coping well
Some people believe that we’re born into this world alone, we’re meant to go through it alone. While much of our responsibilities are ours, we don’t have to struggle by ourselves. There are almost 8 billion people in the world. So, we are definitely not meant to go through this alone. We may not always agree. We may not always vibe. However, there are a lot of people who do and will care about you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from a friend, relative, or even a mental health professional.