Feeling overwhelmed? It can creep up on us when we least expect it. If things seem to be more stressful than usual, try these 11 expert approved tips
Although the feelings of overwhelm can be uncomfortable, understanding what causes it can be helpful.
It’s a way for the mind and body to tell us that something needs to change – this might be thinking patterns, the need for more self-care and rest, or that we can’t look after everyone and everything all the time.
By viewing this feeling in a positive way, it allows us to explore what overwhelm is trying to tell us. It’s up to us to listen because, just like a computer, we’re liable to crash if we surpass our capacity.
How to identify the signs of feeling overwhelmed?
- Feeling irritable and overly emotional over issues that once didn’t bother you at all.
- Feeling overwhelmed and not able to cope in situations where you used to manage well.
- Problems with short term memory and concentration which affect your work performance.
- Poor sleep, which can include either problems with falling asleep or inability to stay asleep, or a combination of the two.
- Feeling ‘wired but tired’ more days than not.
- Chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
- Emotional, stress, or mindless eating, particularly sweets or carb-laden foods.
- Weight fluctuations (can be either weight gain or weight loss).
How to tackle overwhelm?
Overwhelm can creep into our lives when we focus too heavily on one thing without nurturing the others, so do a bit of self-reflection and see whether you need some time out .
Dr Meg Arroll a Chartered Psychologist with wellbeing brand Healthspan says that these X things can help you to deal with feelings of overwhelem…
#1 Close down the tabs
One tip to overcome overwhelm is to shut down some of your open tabs by ticking off the smallest wins – what’s the easiest and simplest task you can get done?
Once these little ‘tabs’ are closed down, you’ll have more headspace, feel more motivated, and be less overwhelmed.
But often, it is not simply the amount we have on our plates in a practical sense that leads to feelings of overwhelm, but our thought processes.
#2 Turn off your perfectionism
Having perfectionist tendencies can contribute substantially to overwhelm, so checking in with your expectations of yourself is an important consideration if life is getting on top of you.
In general, take the mantra that done is better than perfect!
#3 Don’t be shy of rest
We can also feel overwhelmed when we allow our battery to run into the red – rest is as essential as sleep and we need several types of rest, including rest from mental, emotional, social, relational, physical, sensory, and creative demands.
#4 Practice prioritisation
Whether at work or in life in general, we must prioritise tasks so that they don’t eat up all our time, leaving too few precious minutes for downtime.
Compartmentalise and deprioritise those tasks which should not consume our mental energy.
If something is urgent and vital, such as a child being sent home ill from school, manage it. This means taking a deep breath, working out a strategy, and staying calm.
Protect your time
If something is not urgent and vital, set aside time to focus on it. This is why protected time is vital to cultivate the area of life that needs to be developed (this holds true for relationships, friendships and creative pursuits also).
Regular exercise is an excellent example of something that seems to lack urgent but is important.
If something is urgent but not important, limit it. Last-minute meetings, favours for fair-weather friends and calls from overly demanding relatives for example, should be limited and on your terms.
These are tasks that require strong boundaries so practice flexing your ‘just say no’ muscle here.
If something is not urgent and not necessary, avoid it. Surveys from a store you once popped into, mindless internet browsing or watching an entire boxset at one time should be avoided, especially if you’re showing the signs of burnout.
#5 Embrace JOMO
The ‘joy of missing out has quickly replaced fear or missing out, or FOMO, in our overly busy lives. Be realistic about the amount of social, work and community engagements you can commit to, and stick to it.
Over-committing and feeling like you ‘should’ attend a party/help out with a committee/look after other people’s children can easily tip someone with an already packed schedule into burnout.
#6 Top-up on magnesium
Research studies have shown that chronic stress leads to an increase in the rate at which our bodies use magnesium.
Therefore, if you think you might be in danger of constant overwhelm then consider topping-up your magnesium with a supplement such as Healthspan’s Opti-Magnesium, £10.95.
#7 Don’t skip meals
No matter how busy you’re are, make time to eat as our engines can’t run for very long on empty.
‘Choose foods that contain complex carbohydrates for a steady release of energy,’ suggests Healthspan Nutritionist Rob Hobson.
‘Porridge or wholegrain bread, especially in the morning is a good option and ditch those sweet processed options such as pastries and choc croissants. For lunch, be sure to include some protein to maintain energy and focus in the afternoon’.
#8 Instant help
‘To calm down quickly, try Havening,’ suggests Professor Margareta James, Psychologist at Harley Street Wellbeing Clinic.
‘This simple technique generates brainwaves that restore calmness and simply involves stroking the upper half of your arms or rubbing your palms together for five to ten minutes’.
#9 Take on herbal helpers
Herbal remedies are a safe and natural way to help support the body when feelings of overwhelm can lead to anxiety.
Passiflora is a herb that works by boosting the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This compound lowers stressful brain activity, which may help with relaxation and aid sleep.
It can be taken either short or long-term and can be taken alongside other medication, except tranquillising or sedating medications.
Try: A.Vogel’s Passiflora Complex Spray, £10.99 – it can be used by adults and young people aged 12 plus.
#10 Fake it to make it
Dr Brewer, author of Cut Your Stress suggests CBD oil to help relieve some of the anxiety that comes from overwhelm. Try Healthspan CBD Drops, £25.95
‘Try smiling, it lowers stress levels,’ adds Dr Brewer, who regularly practices her ‘Inner Smile’.
This Chinese relaxation exercise involves imagining something that makes you smile and allowing yourself to smile internally.
Let the smile shine out of your eyes and travel inwards to spread all over your body. As the smile radiates within, notice how you feel relaxed and calm yet energised.
#11 Take time to talk
‘Talking is so very important for mental health as it can help us cope,’ explains Dr Meg.
The campaign ‘Time To Talk Day’ has lots of tips and information on talking to someone about their mental health as we know it might not always feel easy to know what to say. More Healthista Content:
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