Are you feeling overwhelmed with life? Are you experiencing work overload? Do you feel like if one more thing comes your way, you may fall apart? Modern life is rife with tasks that need to be done immediately, even more so than our parents. Technology has kept us connected to our work, social media has kept us glued to our screens, and everyday tasks keep us on our toes. While we can solve these issues, we can also find goodness in the disorder.
First, we must identify why we are overwhelmed. This not an exhaustive list, but definitely some of the most common causes. If your particular issue isn’t listed, the solutions, later on, will more than likely help you anyway.
Studies show that those who are overworking at their vocation or within their homes are at a higher risk for heart attack, heart disease, and general misery. Signs of overwork can show up in several different ways such as anxiety, depression, decreased productivity, and overwhelm.
This is the sister of overworking in that overworking can affect your personal relationships and your life in general. Our modern society has canonized the cult of “busy-ness” where we are measured only by how much we have to do in a day for our job. When our families, friends, and personal hobbies are constantly put on the back burner for your vocation, they can become resentful and you can become burned out.
Some of us live paycheck to paycheck or work in hostile work environments. Some of us are dealing with chronic sickness or are helping a loved one through health issues. Whatever you are dealing with, the future doesn’t feel secure, you may feel like you’re in danger, or you’re in constant survival mode just to get through your day.
If you are feeling stressed, anxious, angry, or any other negative emotion after reading the above list, that is okay. Take a moment and embrace that feeling. Those feelings are valid and important. Negative emotions are a sign that something is wrong and that something in your environment, or within yourself, needs to change. Processing your emotions are perfectly healthy, just don’t allow yourself to be overcome by them.
If you need to pause in your reading, please do so. We’ll still be here when you’re ready.
You’re back? Great! Let’s take a look at some strategies to help manage our stress and anxieties.
Many of these strategies will overlap with each other, but we know you can find one, or several, that will work for you.
Talking things out, in general, can help you unravel the tangles of your mind. Whether you speak to a therapist or a good friend, these individuals may be able to help you see where you can improve or can validate your feelings. This release of emotion may be the only thing you need to do, and if so great!
However, if your issue is more complicated or involves your work, you may need to speak with others that have a bit more power over your situation. For example, if you are suffering from overworking or an unstable environment, then you should speak to your manager or HR representative to see if there is anything you can do to decrease your workload, secure your position, or if you can take a short vacation to re-center yourself.
If you are struggling with issues at home—such as parenting, taking care of an elderly family member, or within your marriage—communicating with those involved can help you find a solution. Try delegating chores that your children can do or discuss with your partner about how they can help with child-rearing. If you have siblings that can help you taking care of an aging parent, turn to them either financially or emotionally to see if you can spread out responsibilities. If you are an only child or your siblings are unavailable for help, take a look at free resources around you for elderly activities or care centers that can give you a reprieve.
As for within your marriage or romantic relationship, honest and consistent communication is key to happiness. Assuming you are in a relatively healthy and non-abusive relationship, your partner more than likely wants the best for you and your relationship. You cannot expect someone to change their behaviors if they don’t know that something is bothering you. Be as straight forward as possible and avoid being passive-aggressive. Hopefully, a few conversations can help you improve your situation and you can move forward happier and less anxious. But, if over time you find you need to end the relationship, that is okay. Endings can become new beginnings.
Mindfulness simply means being aware of the present or the now. You can practice mindfulness by doing small meditations where you focus on the very moment in which you are living. Finding a quiet (or at least muffled) place to sit, closing the eyes, focusing on the breath, and just taking in the sensations around you can do wonders. There are also hundreds of online mindfulness meditations that can help you find some calm in the chaos of life.
One of the biggest causes of feeling overwhelmed with life is feeling like we have to do everything right now or everything in life will fall to pieces. There are definitely times in life where we are busier and are juggling several responsibilities. However, if we let a few balls drop, everything will be okay.
Sitting down and actually writing out what you have to get done can get it out of your head and out in front of your eyes. Once you have your list, start separating things that are important (bills, doctor’s appointments, major repairs car or home repairs, etc.) from what isn’t (minor home improvements, errands, social engagements, etc.). Once you have your “most important” list, you can start making an action plan to achieve these goals and hopefully reduce overwhelm.
Seeing other’s “perfect” pictures and watching videos about all the bad in the world, can leave us feeling overwhelmed with life. There is just too much information coming at us all at once and we aren’t able to process it. When we are constantly connected, we may feel like we aren’t doing enough for our fellow man, let alone for our own Instagram image. We may even use our social media scrolling as a way to escape from the stresses of life, but then it becomes its own stressor.
Make a commitment to disconnect for 12-24 hours. If you can’t completely disconnect because of work or family obligations, at least block all your social media alerts and avoid mindless scrolling. Instead of scrolling, take a walk, read a book, or listen to a podcast.
When it comes to your “non-essential” list, it’s okay to say no to a few of those things. Elementary school bake sale? Fixing the chipping paint in the den? Either delegate these things to others in your family or social circle, put them off for a different day, or refuse to do them at all. Even if it is just for the present moment, many things can be done later without any negative consequences. Making and enforcing these boundaries can be difficult, but your mental and physical health will thank you.
While surviving through overwhelm and even reducing the stress from overworking through communication, mindfulness, and prioritizing, you may still feel that something is missing. What is missing is joy and peace.
Whether during our overwhelm or after we have reigned in the overwhelm, we need to take time to find the positive within all the chaos. Perhaps there are opportunities waiting for us, or perhaps learning how to say “no” or becoming more mindful can bring us more happiness than if we had just kept our head down and powering on. Having the courage to speak to your manager or your romantic partner may open up more connections within your relationships. Your children may become more responsible, your aging parent will appreciate getting out of the house, and canceling some outings or other social obligations may give you more time with your family or more time to do the things you love.
Even if every single thing on your work or home list is important and you still feel like you are unable to delegate tasks to others, there are still opportunities to see some good. Be glad that you have people that you love and care for, be glad that you have a job that brings you in money, be glad that you have the health and physical strength to get things done. Shifting your perception of the problem can be the solution. This can be difficult, especially for those with clinical mental illnesses, and this isn’t meant to downplay that adversity. It is a potential solution that may work with several other steps within this article and the help of a doctor.
You are going to be okay. You have survived so much before this moment and you have friends and family members who love you and who want to support you. You have everything that you need within you to handle whatever comes your way and you will get through this.
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