Coping with Feeling Overwhelmed

With all the work and chaos that re-doing the room brought about, I started thinking about the feeling of being overwhelmed. No one is exempt from feeling overwhelmed at times in life. Some people even seem to be perpetually overwhelmed, rarely feeling in control and at peace.

I like to tell my clients that things have to get worse before they get better, and oh, did things get worse in my house when we were redoing and reorganizing the room. I hate admitting it, but in some ways when it comes to my own space, I can be a bit high strung. The mess that accumulated in every downstairs room from emptying the one room was something that had me feeling overwhelmed. Everywhere I looked, there was a mess. As I looked around, I was overwhelmed with all there was to do, feeling a little hopeless at dealing with it promptly. As much as I might not want it, as much as I might shake my fists in frustration at it, life did not stop just because I was re-organizing a room.

I had so many tasks on my list that it felt hard to make any real progress – completing one task still left me with a long laundry list. We’ve all been there – the battle that it feels like you cannot win. Part of the cost of feeling overwhelmed is that we are essentially beating ourselves up. We have lost any real sense of hope. We start thinking that there is no escape and no end. It is hard to move anywhere within ourselves when we are stuck with such thinking. We need to give ourselves a break; would you be so critical of your best friend for being in the same situation? We often offer much more leniency to others than we do to ourselves.

What I tell myself when I start to fall into this self-defeating thinking is that it takes consistent, small steps. It is rare that we have concentrated large chunks of time or energy to delve fully into fixing the various things that need our attention and getting through the things that have built up with time. This also does not address establishing new and more constructive routines. Small yet regular steps are enough to get through the disorder, as well as make sure things end up where they belong.

The way that you decide to react to the feeling is what matters most. If we let ourselves become stymied by feeling overwhelmed, it can be that much more difficult to start moving forward. Facing difficulties in life, whatever they might be, is challenging. It is easy to wish for an easy, fast solution.

Yet, if we can approach the difficulties life throws at us with determination, we will get through it and build up future confidence in ourselves. We can even “fake” feeling positive about our situation to help move us through the challenges we face; practicing the adaptability we would want.

I can tell myself that all it takes is the small, regular steps and even believe it, although it does not always feel that way. I wish it actually eliminated all feelings of being overwhelmed, but it does not always work that way. When I start taking those small steps though, I am reminded of how even 15 minutes can make a dent into what I am dealing with.

How resilient do you want to be? Do you admire people who seem determined to adapt to whatever life hands them?

I read a study dealing with resiliency regarding facing health issues. This applies to anyone facing any situation that feels overwhelming. Those people who scored high on resiliency also scored high in feeling “a greater sense of control over their lives, greater tolerance of negative emotions, trust of their own instincts, and use of spiritual practices to cope.”

Isn’t this what we all want? A way to adapt and avoid unnecessary stress despite what life brings our way.

Take the first step, take a little time every day and start addressing the things that are causing you to feel overwhelmed.

Oh, and the stuff in my house that ended up everywhere during the room re-organization? It’s finally getting back into place, while some of it is finding various new homes. If you know anybody who’s looking for a desk, let me know I have one needing a new home.

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