Today’s Topic: What to do when you feel overwhelmed.
We’ve all felt overwhelmed at some point in our lives. Too many people are texting or messaging you at once, you have a bunch of deadlines coming up, you think you won’t have enough time to finish the things you need to get done, or you’re just so emotionally drained that you want nothing more than to put everything aside and curl up into a ball until it all goes away.
Sadly, we can’t always just dismiss the things that overwhelm us. Thankfully, there are ways to get over the hurdles of feeling overwhelmed so you can be productive again.
Obviously not everyone is the same when it comes to stress, so I’ll just go ahead and say some common overwhelming situations and solutions I’ve encountered over the years that have helped me greatly through life.
Interactions with friends and coworkers can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if I have multiple conversations going on at once. I’ll occasionally find myself trying to juggle several people’s messages at once, which stresses me out to no end since I have to keep switching my focus and mindset at the drop of a hat. My general solution to this is to tackle the most important conversations first (which are usually the ones I’m having with coworkers about work), and then move on to conversations with my friends. The friends I message on a daily basis can usually understand that I won’t always reply ASAP, though coworkers expect instantaneous interaction. It’s better to apologize to friends for ducking out of a conversation for a while than sit and listen to a coworker complain that you’re hard to reach and always unavailable.
Personal projects and deadlines are a huge source of my feelings of being overwhelmed throughout the month. Because I work on such strict deadlines, putting aside writing, editing, or proofreading for even a day might set me back so far that I’ll have to do several days of double time to catch up. Yet, I really can’t help it when the creative juices aren’t flowing and I’ve got nothing in my idea bank to spend on my work. When this happens, I find that taking a step back, rereading previous work, and having a break where I don’t focus solely on the work all help to clear my mind enough to allow me to come back to the task at hand with a better mindset. This sometimes includes chugging a couple glasses of water, having a quick power nap, wataching an episode or two of a favorite show, and cleaning my living space from top to bottom.
Lastly, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the general direction my life is heading in. I want to be a successful writer, but often worry that I’m not doing enough and that I’ll never be able to do enough unless I quit everything else and devote myself entirely to my work. As of right now, writing is only half of my daily life, and I’m not sure I’d be any more production than I am right now by making it my whole life’s work. When I’m especially stressed out about these thoughts and feelings, I like to look over past work and remind myself of how far I’ve come. I chat with friends and family about my goals so that they can help me feel just as excited and happy for the future, and I remind myself what I want to achieve and do with my life.
Overall, I’ve gotten pretty good at trying to get past feeling overwhelmed with aspects of my life, but I’ve still got a lot to learn.
When overwhelmed by a situation, one of the best pieces of advice is to ground yourself by taking into account how important the situation that’s overwhelming you really is to the overall big picture of your life. Will it matter in 5 years? 10? 20? Depending on your goals in life, things that overwhelm you now might just be contributing to pointless worry. Train yourself to spot these unimportant worries and you’ll be much happier in the long run.