InMental Health

Let’s Talk About Overwhelm

Have you ever gotten yourself into a situation where you’re like ‘Oh, I feel amazing! So productive, motivated, creative, and just incredible’? So you take on more and more while you’re in that amazing, productive mood, until you sit on your bed one evening and burst into tears about something totally random and unimportant? No? OK, just me then. 

I think because I’ve suffered with depression so much that when I do have good times, I still have this fear at the back of my head that something’s going to go wrong, that depression is going to strike and ruin everything I’ve worked so hard on. This fear makes me want to pack in as much as I can when I’m feeling good, to kind of make up for past and perceived future depressive episodes where I am unable to get anything done.

What also happens is I don’t give myself enough time to recover from my depressive episodes and just jump into everything and put a lot of pressure on myself, because I’m just so happy to be feeling ‘normal’ and I don’t know how long it’s going to last. So take someone who has just spent the better half of three weeks in bed, and throw her into a schedule where she’s waking up at 6.30 every morning, going to the gym, making her own meals, working the whole day, then socializing, putting up some social media stuff, reading, meditating or doing yoga and then answering emails before finally collapsing into bed, and you can see it’s not going to end very well.

Keeping overwhelm completely at bay is pretty new to me, so I’m still learning some tricks. What is awesome is that I’m finally at a place where I can kind of recognize that it’s happening, and I’ve even been able to know when I’ve taken on too much and have to say no or cut certain things loose, which is half the battle, right? And when I do feel like it’s creeping up, there are a few things I’ve learned to do. Things that make me feel like I have my feet on the ground and everything is going to be OK.

How I keep my overwhelm in check:

Schedule things out, but keep it loose.
I get overwhelmed when I do too much multi-tasking. I kinda start to feel like I’m just grasping at everything flying around and can’t really grab anything, and it makes me feel really overwhelmed, like I’m drowning, and like I’m going to forget something really important. What I do now is write a list of everything I want/need to do (I also keep a running list on my phone), then look at each task and schedule it into my week. I make sure that I leave enough space in case something comes up.

Account for travel time.
Ask anyone what their least favorite thing about living in Dubai is, and they’ll most likely say ‘the traffic’. I don’t know how, but we somehow manage to have like a three hour rush-hour. Which is OK, it happens in a lot of cities, but it means that I need to make sure that I give myself extra time to get places and carve out travel time into my schedule. I also check google maps whenever I head somewhere, just to get an idea of what traffic is like. These things seem simple, but they’re things I didn’t really consider before and they’ve given me a lot of breathing room in my day.

For the love of all things beautiful – SAY NO.
Don’t do things you don’t want to or that you think you’re not going to enjoy. I have had to turn down social events because I know that if I get there, I’m not going to have a good time and all I’m going to do is worry about other stuff I should be doing. It’s not worth it. Good friends and anyone you need in your life will understand if you can’t make it to something. You do need to prioritize yourself. Don’t force yourself to have too many late nights if you know that means you’re not going to get enough sleep that week and it’s going to ruin your mood. Again, it’s just not worth it.

Figure out what you really like to do.
Finding out what I really like to do has made such a difference for me. I know that I like to take time out to meditate, take a bath, or do some yin yoga. I add that time into my weekly schedule because it makes me happy. That way I don’t feel like I’m just living my life for other people. Making time to do things just for me makes me feel like I haven’t lost myself in everything and helps me gain a little perspective.

Ask for help.
Just freaking do it. No one’s going to judge you, no one is going to think you’re weak or can’t handle things. You don’t have to be strong all the time. If you feel a little bit of overwhelm creep up, let someone know or ask for some help. Try to ask before things really start to build up. It could be as simple as asking a friend to go to a movie with you so you can take your mind off of things for a couple of hours, or even asking someone to help you move your furniture around. Your friends and family don’t mind helping you out. Remember that. Asking for help doesn’t make you a burden, it makes it easier for you to do the things that make you so awesome.

Watch your caffeine intake.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you are a little more of an ‘adult’ than I am, so you might not have as much of a problem with caffeine as I do. However, I do find that if I have too much caffeine it kind of makes me a little too anxious and more likely to feel like the walls are closing in on me.  When I feel overwhelmed, one of the first things I do is cut out caffeine (including some teas) and my body usually lets out a huge sigh of relief, and I’m able to think things through a little more clearly.

Do you guys have as much of an issue with feeling overwhelmed as I do? How do you deal with it? Lemme know!



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