What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed and Stressed
Filter Out The Junk
Often times overly compassionate empathetic individuals find themselves orbiting around problems that aren’t theirs to fix.
Because of their generosity, compassion, high level of tolerance, and persistent forgiveness, they will continue to participate in relationships that might be one sided.
Remember this when you’re wondering what to do when you feel overwhelmed and stressed;
Don’t feel obligated to solve all the legal advice, mental health crisis, & medical mysteries
If you’re someone who tends to be compassionate, helpful and forgiving; be mindful of that.
You May Have to Stop and Ask yourself;
What effects does this have on my health?
Am I losing sleep?
Am I spending a lot of my emotional energy on this problem?
Who/what is being neglected because my attention/energy is being spent on this problem?
Is this actually MY problem?
Check Your All or Nothing Thinking
Try to refrain from all or nothing thinking.
- A negative comment doesn’t mean you’re worthless
- A mistake doesn’t mean you’re a failure
- Losing doesn’t mean you’re a loser
Try not to give up altogether when you feel like you could have done better.
Messing up is an opportunity to look at what happened, why it happened & what could be adjusted.
“Learn to fail with pride – and do so fast and cleanly. Maximize trial and error – by mastering the error part.”
- I’ll always be like this
- This is just how I am
- I’ll always be this way
- It’s my bipolar
- I can’t do any better
- Ask anyone
- It runs in my family
- I’m just a bitch
- I was raised this way
- I can’t change
- It doesn’t matter what I do
- I’ve tried everything
That mindset is really limiting.
There may even be some truth to some of the statements, but you’re only limiting your own growth by deciding there is nothing you can do about it.
If this sounds like you or if this sounds like the people that raised you, be mindful of your thoughts.
That thinking is called a cognitive distortion & while it may be pretty engrained, it can be corrected.
Medication can make a huge difference for those with depression and anxiety. Taking them doesn’t mean you have to stay on them forever.
If you’re not into medications necessarily but willing to try supplements
Check the Basics
When we’re overwhelmed it’s easy to start giving up. No matter how low you feel, try to hit your basic needs.
- Get Quality Sleep (Read More About Sleep Here)
- Stay Hydrated
- Eat Right
If you live in a state of sleep deprivation, with a poor diet & constant dehydration, you’re more likely to stay in an overwhelmed state.
Try little things that represent self care. They don’t have to be what I listed. You know yourself best & probably know where you start to give up when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Make Things More Manageable
At any given moment most of us have things we could be doing. This can be a killer for perfectionists.
We try to get everything done and have a hard time relaxing when that’s not the case.
Lets say you feel as if you need to clean your car out. You’re envisioning the garbage, moving the seats back and forth to vacuum, getting a car wash afterwards, etc.
The task of “cleaning your car” doesn’t have to be perfection.
Next time you go somewhere & get out of your car, take what you can carry and throw it away. Instead of vacuuming, take the floor mats out and shake them.
The problem with having such high standards is that it puts extra stress on you and the people around you. It creates a haunting state of mind.
It can be hard to give up that rigid view of what we see as completing a task.
The car is just one example but try to break down some things into smaller steps.
I need to mail that bill → just get an envelope to start
I need to show my kids how much I love them by doing XYZ → Take 5 minutes and fully focus on them
You don’t need to do the most incredible version of everything you want to get done.
You can also write it down for another day.
Maybe put a reminder in your phone or a sticky note in your planner & quickly dismiss any anxiety related to the task until the reminder comes up.
TIP: When you are putting tasks off, still ensure you’re giving yourself a manageable time frame.
What has you so stressed? Tracking helps you take an objective look at your stress.
You’ll be able to get an idea of
- People who bring you stress repeatedly
- Recurring situations that you could do more to prepare for
- Things you may be sensitive to, which helps give self-awareness in those moments
- How you typically respond to stress
Here is a document below that might help. Use it for as long as you think it is useful.
When I used it I realized I’m very prone to feeling unappreciated (is that even a word?).
Anyway, It helped to see it from my own perspective that I’ve been tracking.
I became much better at dismissing that very familiar feeling.
I also could clearly see that I needed to adjust my response.
- Take a bath
- Get your nails done
- Go shopping
- Get a hair cut
- Get a massage
- Go to a community pool or hotel and pay to use their pool for a day
- (not all hotels do this, but some do & it can be a cheap alternative to a vacation)
- Or, just get a hotel room for a night
- Look at your schedule
- Physically organize spaces to be more functional
- Prioritize what’s important
- Try not to wait last minute
- Get things done when you have more time vs when you know you’ll be time crunched
- Get gas NOT in the morning when you’re in a rush to get to daycare then work
- Meal prep some things so you have food ready to eat when things get busy
- Prepare for your day the night before
- Set things out you’ll need
- Prepare your breakfast
- Set your clothes/kids’ clothes out
- Track recurring things so they don’t catch you by surprise
- Assign a designated place for certain items that you’re always looking for
- Put up a hook for your keys you’re always frantically looking for
- Have an organized folder or binder for important documents so you can find them quickly
- Put your phone in a designated place in your car or purse or bedside to eliminate some of the searching for it
- Have places for medicines, remotes, or other items you use frequently
- Charge your phone before it’s at 15%
- Plug it in over night
- Or when you’re in the car
Here are some free templates I made that might help with organizing your life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT: An effective form of treatment for chronic negative feelings is cognitive behavioral therapy.
It’s a form of psychotherapy that helps a person identify negative thought patterns so they can change them.
I’ll show the CBT model below so you can get the concept. Below the CBT model I’ll put some more links to posts describing it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is going to take a bit longer than some of the other solutions I listed but if you feel this way often it might be exactly what you need.
I’ve been in CBT for years now and it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
Talk to a Therapist or Group
Psychiatrists prescribe medications & they know TONS. But they’re not therapists. They’re not the end all, be all of mental health treatment.
The reason many people have success with therapists is because they spent years in school studying & practicing the science of emotions. They’re not just guessing.. they’re experts.
A lot of parents fail in this area. How many parents;
- Pretend emotions don’t exist
- Minimize any negative emotions
- Shame people for expressing emotions
- Never displayed emotional responses
- Never displayed APPROPRIATE emotional responses
- Refuse to take accountability
Emotions are important and it’s worth learning some things about them.
If you don’t have access to someone who is licensed in the field, you can even try free resources. If you’re not interested in talking with someone, find some credible books on the topic.
I’ve mentioned in other posts some of the free resources I’ve used and I’ll put them below again.
This one is a non profit organization that offers TONS of free support. They have individualized therapy and support groups for
- Eating disorders
- Sexual trauma
- Grief and loss
- Self esteem
- Self care
- Men’s support groups
They have one on one services and group/workshops. I have joined many of their PTSD groups. I always felt safe & definitely learned new things about what to do when you feel overwhelmed and stressed.
Another amazing place to connect. ACOA changed my life.
There are thousands of groups and they all have their own flavor.
If you don’t like one, leave and try another.
They have guidelines to ensure that you feel safe. You never have to turn on a camera or mic, or speak at all. I sometimes just join to listen to others.
Don’t be turned off if you’re not from an alcoholic family; alcohol aside; there are tons of people that are just as welcome as anyone else.
The groups are for anyone that’s experienced dysfunction and dysfunction comes in MANY forms.
Being vulnerable is a powerful tool.
If you’re going to use ‘group therapy’, be mindful of how productive the group is. Hope Recovery, even though free, still has at least one group facilitator who has had some training to keep the group on track and healthy.
I’ve been to Al Anon groups that completely ignored the crosstalk rule, so just be mindful of how productive the setting is; even if it’s claiming to be helpful.
It’s worth noting that there are some personality disorders that have a tendency to have a distorted perception of self and pervasive negative thoughts. There is a full list of personality disorders below if you want to read about them.
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