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How to Cope with Feeling Overwhelmed

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At one point or another, all of us will feel overwhelmed about something. This could be from too many assignments due in a short time frame, not having enough time away from work to rest, medical bills piling up, or a variety of other stressors. This feeling of overwhelm can be an awful mix of stress, anxiety, worry, and exhaustion. But there’s hope.

While many of us will try to ignore this feeling or push past it to keep working, those are not effective strategies. Instead, we need to find and identify ways to cope with these feelings and the skills to push on despite feeling overwhelmed. Here are some ways you successfully get through difficult times.

Determine what is overwhelming you

The first thing to do is to find out exactly what is overwhelming you. Is it school? Is it work? Is it your family? Perhaps it is a combination of things. The more clearly you can identify exactly why you are feeling overwhelmed, the easier it gets to cope with the feelings you are having. 

Finding the source of your stress can help you eliminate it. You can find what you need to change to eliminate all these feelings and get them off of your plate. If you are overwhelmed by a school project, make a plan to complete it quickly. If you have a long list of work tasks, break them up into more manageable subtasks. Or you can delegate some tasks or seek out help. 

By finding the source of your stress you can better workshop solutions rather than simply suffering. Be sure to write down the causes of your stress so you can be more aware of triggers and try to deal with the root of your problem. While not all of your triggers can be taken off your plate, most can be broken up into more manageable solutions or completed in a way that is less stressful to you.

Turn to tools and technology

Today, there are plenty of tools and helpful technology that exist to help with just about everything. This even includes the feeling of being overwhelmed. For example, popular wearable devices are good for more than just monitoring your activity. Wearables can measure your stress levels. 

Some devices, like Hapbee’s wearables, can even let you choose your mental state. Hapbee signals are sent to the brain to help you relax and focus. As Dr. Xavier A. Figueroa explains, “this device uses proprietary ultra-low radiofrequency energy technology that emulates specific magnetic fields to produce the desired feelings in the body.” When in doubt, why not choose how you want to feel. 

You could also download a wellness app, watch a relaxing video, or buy a neck massager.

The options are nearly endless and a quick Google search will reveal a variety of pieces of technology that can help reduce stress and anxiety. The key is to address if your stress is physical, mental, or emotional and find a tool that helps alleviate that tension. 

Do some breathing exercises

Sometimes, all you need to do to deal with anxious feelings are some great breathing exercises. When we are stressed we are in our “fight or flight” response. Our body is primed for some sort of threat. By breathing more intentionally we help our body switch from our sympathetic nervous system to our parasympathetic nervous system. Instead of “fight or flight” it switches to “rest and digest” mode.  

This breathing could be box breathing, counting your breaths, nostril breathing, and more. Each of these techniques can bring different results, but they can all help you slow down your mind and relax a little more. Breathing helps reconnect you to your body and get you out of your head. 

These types of breathing exercises can reduce your anxiety-related symptoms, improve your ability to have positive thoughts, and can even improve your cognitive function. Best of all, they only take a few minutes to do and you will feel the relaxing effects almost immediately.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When many of us are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, we think of it as an individual problem for us to handle ourselves. However, this is not the case. If you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out to family, friends, or a professional for help. It is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength.

If you do not feel comfortable going to family or friends, there are many mental health professionals available to help you out. The idea is to help get you out of your head. Sometimes, the simplest thing is to just ask for help with completing a project. This reduces the amount of stress that you put yourself through. 

Sometimes, all you need is someone to listen to how you are feeling to help take some of the emotional weight from what is causing you stress. Also, being able to ask for literal help can help resolve what’s causing you stress. 

Thanks to the Internet, you can even speak to a professional online without leaving your home. The point is, even if you feel alone, there is always someone available and willing to help you.

Being overwhelmed is something we will all experience at one time or another. You can’t ignore or evade the feeling, so learning to cope with it is very important. Take some time to identify the main triggers, use tools and technology to your advantage, and always reach out for help when you need it.

Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.

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