Is Life Overwhelming You Already?
The year started with a new outlook, a new budget and new way to tackle your life goals. It’s only been two months and things are already starting to go downhill. You’ve lost track of spending, can’t seem to fit in time for exercise or calorie count; your work assignments seem endless, along with the housework. You’re feeling anxious, irritated and impatient with yourself and others. Does any of this sound familiar?
The New Year normally starts with great intentions, but we lose focus, it happens. Life happens.*Psychologist Marla W. Deibler, PsyD. (Founder and Executive Director for The Center of Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia) described ‘overwhelm’ as feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion…when you think a stressor is too great to manage, you feel overwhelmed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and letting life take control, below are some tips on how to get back in the driver’s seat.
*SUGGESTIONS FOR PREVENTING OR STOPPING 'OVERWHELM':
1. Accept your anxiety.
Has fighting your feelings of overwhelm ever helped you erase them? Probably not. More likely, battling your emotions only boosted them. According to Deibler, “It’s ‘normal’ to experience some degree of anxiety when stressors are unfamiliar, unpredictable, or imminent.” Think of acceptance as riding out a wave, she said.
2. Change overwhelm-inducing thoughts.
Thoughts of uncontrollability or unpredictability are the backbone of “overwhelm”, according to L. Kevin Chapman, PhD. (psychologist and associate professor in clinical psychology at University of Louisville). It’s the unrealistic or unreasonable thoughts that spark our stressed-out reaction. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what we tell ourselves and learn to create helpful thoughts.
Let’s say you have a mile-long to-do list, and all you keep thinking is “I’ll never get this done.” That’s a damaging thought that can lead to distress and anxiety, Deibler said. It paralyzes you from problem-solving and taking action, she said. But remember that you’re not a slave to your ruminations.
Ask yourself “In what ways might this [thought] be inaccurate, unreasonable or unhelpful?” Deibler said. Next, consider how you can think more realistically. Here, your goal is to generate alternative thoughts that will lead to positive emotions and behavior.
For instance, to revise the above overwhelming thought, Deibler suggested these alternatives: “I may not get it all finished today, but if I work on it or if I seek assistance, I will likely get it done;” “I know I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, but if I take a break, I may feel differently about this when I return;” “It seems overwhelming to me right now, but if I break it down into smaller parts, it may be more doable.”
3. Change your multitasking mindset.
“’Multitasking’ by definition implies that we are doing too many things at once,” Chapman said. He suggested readers shift their perspective. “We have to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now ‘or else.’”
4. Focus on right now.
When you’re consumed with what may or may not happen in several minutes or months, you can’t appreciate the here and now, Deibler said. Instead, schedule time to plan for the future, so you can breathe in the present moment, she said.
5. Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing encourages our body’s relaxation response, Deibler said. Other calming and stress-reducing activities include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, Tai chi and yoga, she said.
6. Take action.
To quell overwhelm, engage in an activity that you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading a book or taking a walk, Deibler said. And consider how you can solve the stressors that triggered your overwhelm in the first place, she said.
(*From article: "Overwhelmed - These 6 Strategies May Help", https://psychcentral.com/)
The answer isn’t to try and do it all, it’s to learn when to stop and breathe, and to know that it’s okay to take time for you. If life’s stressors have become too much to bare, call EAS at 1(888)829-8999 to schedule your no-cost appointment. We are here to help.
There are many learning tools available that can help you cope with feelings of overwhelm. Upload the free EAS mobile app today to gain access to relaxation and stress management tools. It’s available on Google and the App Store; to log-in, you will need the company ID: easrivco.
Other free, helpful apps available are:
Stop, Breathe & Think
Virtual Hope Box
Psyche Alive: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
Psyche Central: Overwhelmed - These 6 Strategies May Help
GoodTherapy.org: Emotional Overwhelm
Psychology Today: Overwhelmed? 8 Tips to Avoid Burnout and Balance Your Life
Helpguide.org: Stress in the Workplace