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Overwhelmed? How To Tell

3 Minute Read

If you are overwhelmed and in survival mode, you are definitely not alone.

Key Points
  • After a year of the pandemic, everyone feels something
  • Being overwhelmed is perfectly normal
  • The key to ease is slowing down

What does it mean to be overwhelmed?

Feeling like you’re buried or drowning from too much of something causes feelings of overwhelm. But it’s also much more than that. It’s a sense of being buried and not able to do anything about it. Overwhelm, anxiety, stress factors – all of these have been magnified and amplified for many during the pandemic.

Physical Signs Of Overwhelm

Are you getting additional aches and pains? Overwhelm can cause you to clench your body or sag during zoom calls, meaning your spine may not be in optimal position. Sciatic pain or tailbone strain may be activated. And after a year of walking around your house in slippers or bare feet, your foot health may have changed. Arches drop, tendon strain, plantar fasciitis attacks flare up. Sitting on a desk chair in the office was bad enough for you, but have you been sitting on a kitchen chair for a year?

You may feel more anxiety than usual. Your depression may be worse. These are physical and mental concerns that you might see a doctor to address… if only there wasn’t a pandemic, in which case you wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed… And so on. You may be more sedentary than you normally were, and have lost flexibility that you took for granted. These are important to recognize and understand that the pandemic being unprecedented, reactions to it are all across the board.

Additional Stressors

When you are overwhelmed and constantly in the flight/fight/freeze/fawn response mode, you use up your resources without re-sourcing them, because you don’t “come down” from your reaction. Instead you continue to run on the fumes in your engine without stopping to add in additional fuel.

Overwhelm means you act out of fear, and tiredness, and all other reasons that aren’t particularly helpful as the best way to make a choice. And if you are overwhelmed, you may end up burned out, which helps no one – not you, not your family, not your business. The feelings get bigger and the burn out gets brighter without refilling your own tank.

Prioritizing Difficulties

There are a number of reasons for overwhelm, but it matters less why you’re overwhelmed, and more what you do about it. When things loom large and everything seems urgent, it can make prioritizing difficult. But changing your habits can make a real difference. And if prioritizing is frustrating you right now, make a serious list and figure out your pros and cons. And then make a decision. Sometimes making a decision at all can loosen up your tension and get you moving in the right direction.

More, feeling overwhelmed can make it seem like you’re juggling all the balls in the world. And, it can feel like if you drop one ball you’re juggling, you feel like you’ll drop them all. And as the balls fall, you feel like you’re falling and failing, and that becomes your normal state of mind while experiencing overwhelm.


So what do you do if you are overwhelmed?

Two of the easiest ways to begin getting out of overwhelm are to practice gratitude and to focus on what you can control. While many of us like to to consider it possible to just say, “Oh, I’m grateful for everything,” or, “I can control this all,” these statements are not really helpful.

Be specifically grateful. Be glad you had AAA when you had a flat tire that morning. Be glad your dog didn’t get loose in the yard even though your child left the gate open. Be thankful your family made you laugh at dinner as you passed around the rolls.

Be aware of what you can control. And be realistic with your understanding of what that really means. You can have the most impressive interview answers, best resume on paper, and get along great with the interviewers. But someone else might be related to the boss, so they get the job before you do. That’s out of your control.

So prepare yourself, be grateful for your very many gifts, and take a deep breath as you let yourself relax out of the overwhelm.

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