What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed can lead to poor choices and sometimes addiction

When someone feels overwhelmed, she can often develop habits that lead to more complex issues. Feeling overwhelmed with schedules and relationships can indicate undiagnosed conditions like anxiety and depression. Learn to relax and take on one project or problem at a time to deal with overwhelming experiences. Furthermore, practice peace in your life to protect yourself and your loved ones from more serious issues, such as addiction. The best way to avoid substance abuse down the road is to deal with out-of-control feelings in healthy ways rather than turning to drugs and alcohol. The following suggestions can help when you or a loved one are feeling overwhelmed.

Stick to Your Role

The people who feel overwhelmed the most are often those who take on more responsibility than necessary. In short, whether at work, home or family functions, stick to your job description to regroup and refocus on doing what you do well. Avoid situations in which you think that no one else will do the job, because plenty of people can do the work that you or your love one take on. You must be willing to simply let go of stress, which means allowing other people to try and even fail. In Erika Andersen’s article, “7 Things to Do if You’re Feeling Overwhelmed” (published in Forbes Magazine), people in leadership positions spend way too much time doing tasks that other people can do [i]. Sometimes, it is because they like doing the task, but other times because they do not trust anyone to do the job correctly. This mindset can quickly lead to feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed.

In response, take a long, hard look at what you are supposed to be doing. There is nothing wrong with helping others and pitching in to get tasks done, especially around the house. However, if you find yourself stretched too thin because you are taking on more than your fair share, then it is time to reevaluate and to let others know that you are stepping back.

Make Activities Count

Understand and accept that your time is valuable to maintain your sanity. For many people, feeling overwhelmed is such a way of life that it is hard for them to realize when they have taking on too much responsibility. To address this problem, look at your schedule and make a list of all of the tasks to which you have committed over the next few weeks. Honestly determine if all of those jobs are important and necessary, because life sometimes demands that you cut back to what you really want to do to make overwhelming feelings disappear. If you learn to balance life by doing only what is necessary for yourself and your family, then you can find joy and a sense of purpose as you avoid spreading yourself too thin. Take regular inventory of your activities and responsibilities can cope with feeling overwhelmed and to get rid of stress[ii].

Take Time for You

Taking time out just for yourself is an important part of keeping your stress level under control. When overwhelming feelings begin to creep into your day, then get up from your desk and take a brisk walk. A 15 minute walk can lower your blood pressure, reduce your anxiety and refocus your energies. If it is impossible to leave your work station when things get stressful then some deep breathing techniques can help slow your heart rate and supply your brain with much-needed oxygen[iii]. Adding in a few stretches and some moments of meditation can also help.

To find some time for yourself, take a look at your work week and then schedule in some time for exercise and extra rest when you need it. If you drive yourself too hard, it is bad for your health and can interrupt quality sleep while you tempt yourself to use drugs or alcohol for the boost you need to keep going. Get a massage, go for a long walk with your spouse or significant other, read a good book or develop a hobby to take a mini vacation once a week. These tasks will refresh your body, renew your mind and reduce the stress that leads to feeling overwhelmed.

Seek out Support

When life has you feeling overwhelmed and nothing you do seems to help, it is time to seek the help of a therapist or counselor. A therapist can help you understand your feelings and teach you to cope with these problems in healthy ways. Counselors can give you strategies to use when stress is at its highest, and they can also help you identify and change the behaviors that create overwhelming feelings. If you get the right help at the right time, then you can reduce your risk of abusing drugs and alcohol during times of stress.

Find Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. You can recover if you have the right help.


[i]Andersen, Erika. “7 Things to Do if You’re Feeling Overwhelmed.” Forbes Magazine, May 29, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2015.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2014/05/29/7-things-to-do-if-youre-feeling-overwhelmed/

[ii] The Mayo Clinic. “Stress Management.” Accessed November 9, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

[iii] The American Institute of Stress. “50 Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress.” Accessed November 9, 2015. http://www.stress.org/stress-effects/