The Experience of Overwhelm

Today, I am overwhelmed.  This overwhelming feeling is fueling my anxiety to the max.  There is so much to do, but not enough time. My to do list is staring me in the face, half way done. These tasks range from mundane every day to professional projects.  They include grocery shopping, cooking and eating, writing, researching, playing video games, and watching a show.  I do this more often than not to myself.  I take on way too much and think expect myself to do it all extremely well.  I forget to account for stress or challenges.  This is a cycle I need to work on.

I asked myself, how did I get here?  How did this to do list get so long?  Why do I have so much on my plate?  I cannot come to a single answer.  I have some theories, though:

  1. I take on too much at one time
  2. I try to accomplish too much in one day
  3. I don’t give myself enough time
  4. I have a hard time prioritizing tasks
  5. I forget to cut tasks out
  6. I want to cover my bases in case some of my projects fail

Reframing this Experience

I know this is something I can manage, but I am struggling today.  Overcoming my overwhelm will take practice.  I need to work on identifying the habits and expectations that get me here. I need to utilize strategies to prioritize my tasks and manage my mindset.   Once I identify these expectations, i could decide how much the matter.  Some of these tasks aren’t hugely important.  Maybe I don’t need to do some at a high level.

Overcoming this challenge will take patience too. I am like many other young people.  I sometimes desire instant gratification- the quick fix.  I tell myself- “get over it already,” OR “get going, I don’t have all day.”  Harsh, I know.  But, it’s an automatic learned response I have developed from years and years of living a certain way.  I need to take a step back and be kinder to myself.  Managing these feelings will take more time than I expect.  Reframing how I view my tasks and day will take some time and effort.  I won’t get over this instantly.

You may be like me.  You may have developed these thoughts and tendencies.  Overwhelming feelings may invade your mind every once in a while.  I encourage you to be kind to yourself.  We are all human.  Even more, our society puts extra pressure on us.  We are expected to excel all hours of the day.  We are expected to earn many achievements and skill sets in a short period of time.  The system works against us more than we realize. Realize you are not alone in this,

Let’s Manage this Challenge

As I work through my challenging day, I am reflecting on strategies to manage feelings of overwhelm.  Since i have struggled with overwhelm and anxiety for a few years, I have learned and used several strategies to manage these feelings.  Consider trying some of these:

  1. Journal your thoughts and feelings
  2. Go for a walk outside in nature
  3. Call a trusted friend
  4. Consider what you can cut from your task list
  5. Color a picture
  6. Read a book
  7. Breathe deeply and slowly for a few minutes
  8. Grab something to drink

Anxiety and overwhelm have become the norm for many young people.  We carry so many expectations from ourselves, our family, our work, our friends, and even people we haven’t met that follow us on social media.  It can be easy to become overwhelmed by all these expectations and tasks.  Before overwhelm hits, be sure to have a plan.  Identify 2-3 strategies you can use.  This will help you prepare for those challenging days.  You will find that you master the overwhelm, not the other way around.

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