How To Not Feel So Overwhelmed All The Time By Keeping These 6 Things In Mind
Imagine you’re walking into a full classroom on the first day of the semester. You look right and left, but unfortunately, you can't identify a single familiar face. Picking a corner seat in the last row of desks, you slump in your chair and listen to a professor rattle off assignments that are already due next session, in books you’ve yet to buy. As someone who practically panics on-demand, I understand if your first instinct is to freak TF out, but you’ll benefit more from these kinds of situations if you figure out how to not feel so overwhelmed, rather than immediately give into the anxiety. It’s totally normal to feel swamped with emotion and worry once in a while, but it shouldn’t be your default mode, if for nothing else but the sake of your mental health.
According to its Oxford Dictionary definition, “overwhelm” is a verb that means to “defeat completely,” or to “have an emotional effect on.” When you get overwhelmed by tasks or social pressures, assistant professor of emergency medicine Robert Glatter, M.D. tells Elite Daily, you're “bombarded by negative emotions” that will, essentially, interfere with how you’re able to function in your daily life. Sounds just peachy, doesn't it?
To quote the ever-so-fabulous 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, Gabrielle Union’s character, Chastity, asks the real hard-hitting question: “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”
When you think about it, there really is no middle ground, and those who feel overwhelmed all the time could be at risk of poor mental, as well as physical, health, according to Calm Clinic. Glatter further explains that this drowning sensation can lead to panic attacks, shutting down emotionally, and, if it persists, “can result in depression.” In other words, it’s a situation of chill or be chilled.
Unfortunately, it's becoming more common to feel overwhelmed on a regular basis. Forbes reported on the results of a global survey issued in 2015, which revealed that 14 percent of a sample of 2,957 participants were recorded as "chronically overwhelmed." It's a very real emotion, and it's natural if you feel it on occasion, but if it's something you're experiencing on a daily, even weekly basis, here are a few things people who don't get easily overwhelmed do on the reg for less stress and more peace of mind.
1. They Take Deep Breaths
I realize that almost every wellness article you come across sneaks in something about the benefits of breathing and taking up guided meditation, but I can assure you there's a valid reason for this.
See, when you're relaxed, you breathe through your diaphragm. When you're stressed, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker Dr. Danielle Forshee tells Elite Daily, your body switches gears and breathes through your chest, causing even more tension. So, not only are you mentally in a bind, your physical body is suffering, too.
Before it can get to that point, people who don't feel so overwhelmed all the time recognize their anatomy going into panic mode, and take a second to breathe deeply, and mindfully, from their abdominals. According to Glatter, this brings the mind into a "serene setting devoid of stress," that helps reduce feelings of being overwhelmed in the moment.
2. They Know How To Say "No"
Neglecting to schedule time for yourself amidst the hustle of work, school, and ladies' nights is not only a major faux-pas in the name of self-care, it's also a good way to get overwhelmed real quick. It's very easy to get caught up in the demands and adult-like responsibilities that come swinging at you from all sides of life, which is why it's vital to your mental clarity that you learn how to say "no" and actually mean it.
People who aren't overwhelmed all day every day are chillaxin' because they've mastered the art of letting people down easy and not feeling so guilty about it. Glatter tells Elite Daily that one of the best ways to let go of those overwhelming feels is to prioritize tasks and set realistic goals, in order to reduce stress and anxiety before they even have a chance to hit you.
As difficult as it may be, resist the urge to give in to your girlfriend's pouty please-come-out-tonight face if you're not up for it. Free up a weeknight for some quality time to yourself. At the office, recognize how much of a workload you can handle, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
3. They Vent To Friends And Loved Ones
If you're the type of person to bottle up emotions and seal the cap tight, it's no wonder you feel so overwhelmed. Granted, I sympathize — I'm one to hoard all the feels until I explode like a fizzy drink, but one of the easiest ways to let go of whatever's causing you to feel so stressed out is to sit down with a friend or loved one and let it all go.
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Deborah K. Heisz, CEO, co-founder, and editorial director of Live Happy magazine, explains that phoning a friend for advice, or even as a simple shoulder to lean on, can be beneficial for those who feel overwhelmed.
"Once you feel you’re not alone and receive that instant reassurance, your brain starts to generate the hormone oxytocin, also called the 'love hormone,'" Heisz says, "which calms stress and gives you courage and inspiration to move forward." In other words, the key is to talk more, so you can feel less overwhelmed.
4. They Focus On The Solution, Instead Of The Problem
Rather than approaching your overwhelmed feelings as a problem that can be solved, it's likely that you're fixating on the issue at hand, and therefore building it up to be something much more than it really is. Forshee tells Elite Daily this is because, when you feel overwhelmed, your thoughts automatically become "very negative or fear-provoking."
People who are able to manage feelings of distress head-on have a different, more rational perspective. "They are usually very task- and solution-focused immediately," Forshee explains. "They notice what needs to be done, and immediately come up with a concrete game plan." In other words, taking control of the situation, instead of letting the situation control you, is crucial.
5. They Make Lists
Now, here's something I can 100 percent get behind. I am an avid list-maker: Sometimes, I even write a list twice or three times over in different places, just because. It sounds excessive, I know, but jotting things down and delegating accordingly can be extremely helpful when you're feeling overwhelmed with responsibility.
Make a checklist and write things off as you go. Mapping your progress in listicle form, Inc. reports, even if you note the tiniest things like making your bed, or brushing your teeth, will feel like a sigh of relief, because it acts as a visual reminder that you are, in fact, making progress.
6. They Realize The Emotion Will Pass
Human emotions are fleeting; you can feel knee-slapping giddy one minute, and teary-eyed mournful the next. The same goes for bad days: Everyone has them, and it can be comforting to know that one day doesn't define your week, your month, or even your year (sorry, couldn't resist the Friends reference).
"Everyone has challenges," Heisz tells Elite Daily, "and one day of conflicting responsibilities is not going to get you fired from work." Taking a few minutes to decompress, and remind yourself that your distress isn't unique, but natural, can make you feel at ease, and help you to let it go and move on.