Overwhelm is something that I’m sure we have all felt before in life. It’s a feeling that I find a little hard to explain but for me, it feels like I’m trying to go somewhere only using street signs and there are a thousand signs pointing in a thousand directions. You don’t know which way to pick. Which one will be the quickest? The easiest? The one with the least obstacles? It’s just feeling so bloomin’ lost and having no idea what to do.
I’m a person that used to get overwhelmed very easily. It really didn’t take a lot to get me worked up. It’s only very recently that I have started dealing with this and believe me, I’m still on my journey.
To put it quite simply, I’m a stress head. Going from zero to one-hundred in seconds is my talent. You’ll see my chronicles of getting stressed easily over on my Twitter.
Being overwhelmed comes with life, along with many other things. Realistically, we can’t just get a magic wand and make this feeling disappear. We have to learn to work through these things.
We try so hard to suppress emotions. But we really need to remember that we are allowed to feel our feelings. They are there for a reason. So, here are a few little ways that I’ve found have helped me deal with overwhelming thoughts and keep my cool.
Get yourself grounded
I’ve only recently started using grounding as a technique and honestly, it’s helpful in so many different ways. It’s something that I’ve heard about loads of times before but I just never really got it. As I mentioned before, feeling overwhelmed can make you feel so lost. Grounding is one of the best and fastest ways of getting rid of this lost feeling.
A really popular technique when it comes to grounding is using your senses. You can use as many as you choose until you feel like you’re a little more relaxed.
Not that I think any of my readers are oblivious of this fact but our senses are; see, hear, feel, smell and taste. I also like to add in a sixth which is thought.
Say the feeling flows over you while you’re in the train station on your first day back at university. Go through them one by one.
What do you see? Trains going past, people rushing by you etc.
What do you hear? The tannoy announcements, the hubbub of those passing you.
What do you smell? The fresh coffee being brewed in the cafe on the platform.
What do you feel? Your ticket in your hand, your backpack resting on one shoulder.
What do you taste? The first bite of the croissant that you just purchased from the cafe.
What are you thinking? About how packed the train will be when it gets here, about what assignments you’ll be given this semester.
Take a moment to be still and collect your thoughts
Sometimes we do just need to sit ourselves down and just be still for a moment with our thoughts. I used to just try to power through my thoughts and not work through them. There is a huge difference between these two processes.
Powering through leads to a dismissal of your feelings and thoughts which may lead to a huge build-up of emotions. Working through allows you to rationally go through your emotions, you learn how to catch your feelings and work through them.
Feelings of stress, overwhelm etc are normal. We try to bury these feelings but they are there for a reason. They are impulses created biologically to protect us from situations. Let’s use the same example of the train station again. You’re feeling a little stressed out so you sit down for a minute.
Take some deep breaths and try to work out why you’re feeling the way you are. It could be a thousand reasons. It may be that the crowds are making you feel a little nervous or that you’re having a worry about how hard this year at university may be.
The more and more you sit and collect those thoughts, the easier it becomes. You learn how to talk yourself through your feelings. Ignoring or burying these kind of feelings never do you any good. I’ve done it before and they’ve all coming rushing out at like 500mph.
Sit down. Feel your feelings. Talk about them or write them down. Get through them.
Be realistic with yourself
Often times, when I’m feeling overwhelmed it’s because of the expectations I’ve set for myself. Setting high expectations is a whole other blog post so I won’t go too far into it buuuuut it’s a big part of being stressed.
Once again using being at the station to commute to uni for the first time in months as an example. I expect a lot of myself. Sometimes I expect way too much from myself. I used to set goals so high I knew I could never reach them.
Getting 80% in assignments all the time was one I first set myself. Now, I’ve spoken before about how I’m an average achiever when it comes to academics. When I put in my best, I get average grades which are fine by me. I was setting these 80% grade goals and wasn’t getting them and feeling crap.
Then whenever assignment feedback date came around, I felt sick and I felt such a feeling of dread all day long. It took a while but I realised that this wasn’t realistic for me and it was causing me to get overwhelmed just at the sight of an assignment brief.
Being realistic doesn’t mean not going for what you want. It means going for what you want and knowing that it’s within your reach. Doing this little thing can remove so much stress and worry from your life.
Challenge or change thoughts that bring on the feeling of overwhelm
I am a huge advocate for feeling your feelings. Never ever will you hear or read me saying that you shouldn’t face your feelings. And I mean all of them, not just the good ones.
It’s only been very recently in my life that I’ve become more emotionally intelligent. (By emotional intelligence, I’m referring to being able to identify and organise your own feeling or others). I’ve always been quite intuitive but actually looking at what causes me to feel certain ways has come from just being really mindful and honest about my feelings.
Overwhelming feelings show up for me when I feel a lot of pressure or when what I’m doing is being done for others and not for myself or in a number of other situations.
This is why sitting and collecting your own thoughts is such a vital point that I made earlier. See, it’s all cyclical haha. Taking the time to get to know yourself and your feelings will make it so much simpler to change or challenge the overwhelming little buggers in your head.
Look at your thoughts. Say you’re thinking that you’re stupid because your friend got a higher grade than you on an exam but you still got the grade you aimed for. Let’s break it down…
- You still got a passing grade which at the end of the day, is what matters.
- You got the grade you aimed for so you should be so blooming proud of yourself.
- Your friend who got a higher grade than you might have done so for a thousand reasons.
- You should be super happy for your friend and the grade they got.
- Your feedback will tell you where to improve so that next time you get a higher score.
Become really in tune of where your thoughts and feelings are coming from and learn how to challenge or change ones that don’t put you in a good mood.
Stay in the present
If your anything like me then the stresses you think about in life either come from regretting the past or dreading the future. GET OUT OF THAT MINDSET. We cannot change the past and we cannot predict the future.
It sounds super woo-woo but stay in the moment that is happening right now. Don’t worry about that embarrassing text you sent last week. Stop thinking you’re going to end up alone in the future because you’re single now.
This journey is one that I’m still very much on. I love planning which is fine but I stress about every little detail and then I get overwhelmed about things that aren’t happening for ages. Like what if Liam doesn’t like the colour scheme I’d like for the wedding even though he’s not even proposed yet. Just take a step back.
It’s not that thinking about what has happened or what may happen is bad. It’s really not. I’ll think about those things forever but the problem arises when you live in those states. Live in the present, man *peace sign*.
How do you deal with the feeling of overwhelm?
“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian.
Until next time,