What Causes Overwhelm + How To Respond

I can’t catch a break. This was my mantra the past two weeks, overwhelmed with health concerns and my work to-do list and wedding planning and a new van. Oh my! Do you ever feel like it’s just too much?


Me, too. And, I reminded myself it was too much constantly. Like, every moment. Do you think that helped? It didn’t. I needed a lesson in why I was overwhelmed and what to do about it. Read on to see if my process can help you, too.


What Causes Overwhelm


Focusing on what’s going wrong

So, my mantra: I can’t catch a break. It’s not your traditional mantra. It’s definitely not positive. But, the thing about mantras is that anything we say over and over to ourselves becomes our truth. We believe it and it sinks into our energy and our body until it’s all we can hear and feel.


Thinking about everything you have to do at once

I have a bad habit of all or nothing thinking. It makes me fill my mind with every single thing on my to do list at once. This makes it hard to feel like I’ll ever get it all done. How can I work on my blog and work on my annual report at work and take care of my jaw pain and start eating healthy again and plan my wedding and… It’s too much! It would be too much for anyone. Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed when thinking like this?


The tipping point factor

When I’m feeling overwhelmed to the point of no return, it’s usually not just the collection of small things that are going wrong. There’s one thing that’s really bugging me. One thing that becomes unavoidable and seems like and unsolvable problem that leads to that brain exploding feeling. That one thing this time was jaw pain. For the past two weeks, my jaw has been killing me, especially when I eat or yawn. So, yeah, a lot of the time. It’s driving pain into my teeth and ear as well. See, I’m used to emotional turmoil. But, physical pain? I’m a baby. And, it sets me over the edge big time.  



How to Respond to Overwhelm


Remember what’s going right

It became time to set a new mantra for myself. My go to is: it’s going to be okay. Sure, it’s simple and non-specific, but it’s a big step up from “I can’t catch a break.” I had been thinking so much about how I went from nausea to stomach pain to jaw pain that I totally forgot I wasn’t nauseous anymore and my stomach didn’t hurt anymore. Those pains were gone, and I didn’t need to hang onto them anymore and lump them into something that was wrong. My overall health was actually okay, and that was something to celebrate.

I didn’t have my annual report done at work, but I had gotten started on it and the reason it wasn’t done was because I was doing a great job training our new advisor. The reception design for my wedding wasn’t done, but we did have a location and catering and photography planned, and I even set up our engagement photoshoot just the other day. I was doing pretty good, actually!


Take your to do list one step at a time

It was easy to feel overwhelmed when I was running my whole to do list through my head at every waking moment. Instead of tackling anything on my to do list, all I was doing was reminding myself that I had too much to do. This made anything feel unmanageable. But, when I broke it down and said, I just need to do something for my teeth and I went to a walk in clinic, I felt a little relief that I had ticked off one task.

I decided to make a list on paper (for me, it didn’t really happen unless I physically checked it off on paper) and start checking tasks off one by one. Reminding myself that I can only get one thing done at a time and that trying to multi-task doesn’t serve me starts to calm me down pretty quickly. When you look at a list this way, you start to see momentum building and things getting done rather than more and more that you still need to do.


Tackle the tipping point factor first

I had been avoiding making an appointment at the dentist or the doctor, thinking I had to pick one. Even though my jaw and tooth pain was the number one thing stressing me out, I was avoiding it. Sounds counterintuitive, right? That’s because it totally was. Once I decided enough was enough and I went to a walk in clinic and found out nothing was dramatically wrong, I felt instant relief. I’m still in pain, but I was able to move on with my day without my brain exploding because I took a step in the direction of finding out what the problem is.


The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to stop your brain from spinning long enough to ask yourself why. Then ask yourself if any of these steps would help to ease your overwhelm. We got this.


What's causing you overwhelm right now? Which tip could you use to help stop it?


Who do you turn to when you're overwhelmed? If you don't have someone, don't worry! I want you to join MY internet tribe over on Facebook. We're here to support you and be your cheerleader. 


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