I do not need to explain why emotional overwhelm has been at an all-time high lately. The news is terrifying, yet I can’t seem to keep my eyes off of it. I’m worried about every person that I care about, yet I can’t do anything to protect them. I planned to write about overwhelm even before the coronavirus outbreak, but I’m honestly glad that I waited because it’s more relevant now than ever. We’ve all been there. There are a couple of ways to deal with overwhelm: make it worse, or you can make it easier.
There have been many times I have wanted to focus on things that were important to me but could never sit down and start them because of other obligations. I am personally guilty of trying to multitask everything, all of the time. I start one task and become distracted by another, and then have an idea that I think is so brilliant that I have to start immediately until my list is 20 tasks long and I don’t know where to start. When I become that overwhelmed, I start to feel really guilty. I beat myself up more than anyone else ever could. Maybe you can relate to this, or maybe you’ve been so used to balancing a million things at once that not having as many obligations during this time of isolation also makes you feel overwhelmed.
You can almost feel the confidence getting sucked out of you. You lose excitement for everything. You need to feel good about yourself and the things you’re doing in order to enjoy it. At that point, you’re just checking off as much of your list as quickly as you can, and you’re in so deep that at the end of the day, it still doesn’t feel like you did enough. So what’s the point? You feel defeated.
It is ridiculously harder to pick yourself up from that than to just focus on why that feeling is there and deciding what to do about it. There is always going to be a lot going on. Life is always going to be hectic, but everything does not usually need to be dealt with right now, all at once. All that is happening, is what is right there in front of you. For example, you’re reading my blog, so all of the things that you’re worrying about are not demanding your attention, and if they are, there’s the best place to start. The minute these things make you feel negative or pessimistic, you feel out of control. It’s easy to see one thing lead to another until you’re in a black hole of bad things that could happen. Then you find yourself procrastinating and creating bad habits for comfort.
So bringing it back, what are we supposed to do about it?
I recommend having something that you’re passionate about, aside from work. It doesn’t take your problem away, but it can give you some release when everything else feels like too much. You cannot do everything in a day, and you likely don’t have to do all of it, at all. So do that first. Figure out what needs to get done and what are just thoughts spiraling in your head. Then, keep in mind what is realistic for you to do in a day, and actually PLAN when to get them done. Change your routines if you have to (which is a good idea anyway, but that’s a topic for another day) so that you don’t get too comfortable. Prioritize one chunk of things to do and get those done one at a time. Give yourself a sense of control.
I know that feeling overwhelmed is never easy. Sometimes you need to just feel the feelings before you can get going again. Pushing through isn’t always the answer, but there are ways to make them more bearable. I know there are a range of feelings in the world right now, do not make yourself feel bad for however you’re adjusting to this change. What we were facing is unlike anything we’ve lived through, so it is normal to feel confused by it all. The news and social media are very intense right now, try not to become absorbed in them. Don’t be so hard on yourself, just like you are scared and on edge, so is everyone else. Ask your people how they’re feeling. Try to send positivity where you can and just be kind.