Personal Development
Why Am I Easily Overwhelmed? Causes and What to Do ...

Why Am I Easily Overwhelmed? Causes and What to Do ...

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Stress and Emotional Overwhelm: Causes, Signs, and How to Manage It

Feeling overwhelmed can be a normal part of life, especially when we feel like we have too much going on. Research shows that approximately 73% of Americans report that stress affects their mental health. By understanding the causes of emotional overwhelm, the consequences of it, and learning how to handle it, we can take control of our lives and feel empowered.

What is Emotional Overwhelm?

Emotional overwhelm is an overwhelming emotional response to a stressful event or situation that we feel is too hard to manage. When overwhelmed, we may experience physical symptoms such as shallow breathing, chest pressure, a racing heartbeat, sweating, or an urge to shut down and not think about it. Being aware of the stressors in our lives and the effects they have on us is the first step to reducing emotional overwhelm.

Benefits of Managed Stress

Although it can be debilitating, stress does not always have to be a negative experience. A positive form of stress, known as eustress, can be beneficial in keeping us motivated and focused. While it is essential to reduce any stress that is causing emotional overwhelm, it�s also important to recognize that beneficial stress can help us in our everyday endeavors.

Four Causes of Emotional Overwhelm

  • Too many tasks and responsibilities- Juggling professional and personal life can be challenging, and when we try to take on too much, we can become overwhelmed.
  • Life changes- Major life transitions, such as starting a new job or moving to a new area, can cause us to feel emotionally drained.
  • Traumatic events- Even remembering a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, the loss of a loved one, or being involved in an accident, can cause us to feel emotionally overwhelmed.
  • Fearful situations- We may feel overwhelmed due to fear of certain situations that we believe we can't handle.

Consequences of Emotional Overwhelm

Ignoring feelings of emotional overwhelm can have various mental health risks, such as difficulty taking care of oneself, reduced ability to think rationally, negative impacts on social life, and increased fatigue.

Handling Emotional Overwhelm

Rather than dwelling on overwhelm, it�s important to make meaningful changes in our lives. Educating oneself on how to manage stressors can help us to find balance and live with clarity, purpose, and passion. Additionally, other health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, or borderline personality disorder can contribute to feelings of overwhelm. In order to overcome feelings of overwhelm, try progressive muscle relaxation methods, question your inner critic to let go of perfectionism, and learn to say 'No' to things that you don�t need to do. By recognizing the causes and consequences of emotional overwhelm, and taking the steps to manage it, you can take back control and find true balance.

Sources of Overwhelm

Overwhelm can have many different causes and can be the result of one or more of the following:

  • Professional demands and obligations
  • Emotional or psychological overload
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxious attachment
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • General exhaustion
  • Decision fatigue
  • Feeling stuck in a slump
  • Restlessness
  • Rejection sensitivity

Signs of Overwhelm

The signs of overwhelm may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aches and pains

Strategies for Managing Overwhelm

Managing overwhelm can be greatly aided by recognizing the symptoms, making a concerted effort to identify and understand the causes, and developing strategies to cope.

  • Say 'No': Take control of your overwhelm by learning to set boundaries and limits.
  • Let Go of Perfectionism: Perfectionism and the need to be perfect can cause overwhelm. Questioning your inner critic can help ease this pressure.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This relaxation technique helps reduce tension and stress in the body, promoting emotional regulation.
  • Delegating Tasks and Responsibilities: Sometimes the simplest solution is to delegate tasks and responsibilities to someone else.
  • Stop All-or-Nothing Thinking: Success or failure is rarely binary, so it�s important to remember that progress, not perfection, is the goal.

Of course, it may also be helpful to seek assistance from a mental health professional to better understand how to deal with overwhelm. With greater knowledge and awareness, it can become much easier to manage.

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