What Causes Feeling Overwhelmed? And Ways to Manage It

Written by: Vasundhara Shukla – M. Phil (Psychology)
Last updated date : February 06, 2023

The buzzing, booming world around has so much information to offer to us. Each minute we get a load of knowledge to understand and memorize. We are lucky to have an memory store that is so big that we can fit in all that info in it. But why just focus on the info gathered from outside? Each minute we have many thoughts about basically everything under the sun. There is so much going on that it is quite natural to end up feeling so overwhelmed that you feel you cant do anything. When such a thing happens we also wonder what causes this feeling of being overwhelmed.

Our brain is the CPU of the body. CPU is the central processing unit of the computer which processes and encodes input. You might have experienced that if the computer gets overburdened it stops responding. Our brain does a similar thing. The onslaught of information that happens through media, people and events around us. And social media has opened a convenient channel to remain updated about the world. In this article, we will be describing the feeling of being overwhelmed, what causes feeling overwhelmed and how to deal with it.

“Practical and insightful” David

70 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use
$9.00 $12.00

25% discount


Chapter 1:

Effect of the Pandemic

In our world we are rewarded for knowing a little about a lot of things. But consuming so much information does more harm than good. After the beginning of COVID 19 pandemic many people have complained about feeling overwhelmed with the volume of info they are getting. The idiom ‘biting more than one can chew’ seems apt in such a situation. But why is this affecting us only now? A lot of things have led to this situation. The COVID 19 pandemic shifted the work from offline to online mode. Earlier people used to complete their work in their offices. The division between the office and home is blurry because of online work.

People are being asked to put in more hours for work. They are struggling to make time for themselves, friends and family after work. People are responding to emails and messages even after work. So they are never completely off work. This continuously open channel for information tires the mind and body. Many workplaces are recognizing this problem and trying to find solutions to it. The workplaces also need to understand the causes of feeling overwhelmed in order to manage it.

Students have also suffered due to the pandemic as schools and universities have adopted the online mode. The screen time of many students has shot up which has left parents concerned. This has also disturbed the daily schedules of the students. Sleep time has been pushed further back and students spend late hours into the night reading and browsing on the internet. Families are also struggling to adjust with these changes.Collectively, the sudden work from home settings has increased the consumption of information.

Chapter 2:

What Does Feeling Overwhelmed Mean?

We have already discussed about how we are being fed with a lot of information through various sources. But what is the impact? This has made us more overwhelmed. The phrase feeling ‘in over your head’ is used to express feeling overwhelmed informally. This is the feeling you get when you get involved in a situation which is difficult to deal with. It is common to feel anxious and worried when you feel overwhelmed. This usually happens when the workload seems too much to bear. And when this happens most of us try to work even harder to complete the work. This starts a cycle of constantly feeling overwhelmed and anxious. There are many situations that can make our emotions difficult to handle. During this time understanding ‘what, how and why’ of your feelings gets tough. Being overwhelmed feels similar to being drowned by a rough wave. You are unable to react and it gets very scary. And it is as uncomfortable as it is incontrollable. Now lets talk about what causes feeling overwhelmed.

Chapter 3:

What Causes Feeling Overwhelmed?

Some common reasons why we feel overwhelmed are-
  • Relationship problems like intense fights can be quite overwhelming for either of both partners.
  • Physical or mental health issues like dealing with depression, anxiety, OCD can be cause a lot of distress. Physical illnesses which entail chronic pain like arthritis, cancer and lower back pain can reduce the ability to manage stress.
  • Stressful or demanding work can overwhelm our mind. If our work stresses us out we tend to get preoccupied with it and this also keep us from enjoying other facets of life.
  • Big life changes like moving to a new place, taking up a new job, getting a promotion, having a child can have an impact our capacity to handle things.
  • Financial difficulties can a huge toll on our health. Financial worry is one of the most common stressors in modern life.
  • Death of a loved one, chronic illness of a family member are examples of personal traumas that can cause sadness and anxiety.

Chapter 4:

Crying When Overwhelmed?

Crying is a common thing to do when we feel overwhelmed. And that is completely okay! Crying has many benefits. It helps in reducing the distress immediately and calms us down. This is because after crying our body releases some hormones which reduce stress and lifts the mood. So by crying we actually soothe ourselves.

Chapter 5:

What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed?

  • Accept what you are feeling. Anxiety is a normal human emotion which tells us that we might be having a lot of things on our plate. It is the body’s warning signal. Try to accept this feeling rather than denying it.
  • Try relaxation exercises. Yoga and mindfulness both involve relaxation exercises to help the body calm down.
  • Pinpoint the causes which leads to feeling overwhelmed. When you feel relaxed enough try to understand the what causes this feeling of being overwhelmed. You will be able to manage your feelings better after this.
  • Delegate your work. If you have more than you can chew then consider giving some of your tasks to your trusted family member, friend or colleagues.
  • Nothing or nobody is perfect. We have to understand that we cannot do everything perfectly. And having that expectation from ourselves increases the pressure to keep improving your work. Know when to stop.
  • Set boundaries on your workload. It is a good idea to clear tell how much you can accomplish within the deadline without affecting your mental health.

Chapter 6:

Relaxation Exercise

You can try this relaxation exercise when you feel are feeling overwhelmed. Use the following steps-
  • Sit or lie down on a comfortable surface.
  • Relax your shoulders. Make sure they are not tight and strained.
  • Put a hand gently on your stomach.
  • Without straining, breathe in through your nose until you can’t take in anymore air.
  • Feel the air moving through your nostrils into your stomach, expanding your stomach and sides of the waist. You will not fill your lungs with air, just the stomach.
  • Purse your lips as if sipping through a straw. Exhale slowly through the lips for about 4 seconds and feel the stomach gently shrink in size.
  • Repeat these steps when you need to calm down.

If you liked this article, please consider going through our course catalogue. We have well curated courses for understanding perfectionism, practicing mindfulness and emotional regulation.

"Practical and insightful" David

70 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount