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Overcoming Being Overwhelmed

It’s that point in the semester where deadlines that once seemed so far away are quickly approaching, I’m finding myself feeling extremely overwhelmed. I consider myself to be pretty organized and on top of my responsibilities such as work and assignments, however lately I just feel like I am never ahead of the game. I realize that this is a normal feeling for someone in my situation to go through. School isn’t supposed to be easy and I feel fortunate to be in the position that I’m in. But as someone who is fairly type A, this sense of lost control can really take a toll on me. I have trouble sleeping, I ruminate on things I normally wouldn’t, and the quality of my work even decreases. I try to combat this by writing out everything I have to do so I can stop thinking about it, but sometimes that makes things worse. When I get like this however, I’m constantly reminding myself of all the challenges I’ve overcome in the past and how these next few months will be no different. Although it’s easy to forget, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and “this too shall pass.” While this is easier said than done, I dug into some helpful tips on other conducive ways to handle the negative feelings of being overwhelmed.

Admit that you’re overwhelmed!

This can be hard for people. I often don’t realize I’m overwhelmed until I’m close to my breaking point, and it all hits me at once. Recently I’ve tried to acknowledge the moment I become overwhelmed, instead of ignoring it or hoping it goes away. You may find yourself feeling certain emotions or engaging in certain behaviors when you become overwhelmed. See if you can identify these and create a greater sense of awareness for when they appear.

Walk away

I know this can sound crazy to actually stand up and walk away from what you’re doing, but in the long run you’ll thank yourself for doing this. No matter how much you have to get done, you can afford to take a few minutes to clear your mind and really address what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed. Take a couple deep breaths to calm yourself down so that you can regain control of the situation. It’ll be almost impossible to continue the task you’re working on feeling swamped and defeated. If I don’t do this, this is often when I find the quality of my work to decrease. Walking away also helps me see the big picture of things. When I feel as if not completing an assignment by a certain time will mean the end of the world, walking away and calming down helps to remind me that it’s not.

Be kind to yourself

Feelings of doubt often coincide with being overwhelmed. It can be easy to get caught up in all the things you’re doing wrong or not doing well enough. But what good can come out of this? Instead, make a list of your strengths, skills, knowledge, and support available to you to combat difficult situations. By focusing on what you can control or what you believe you’re good at, you can incorporate these attributes into overcoming your tasks.

Onward and upward

With a clear mind and your strengths at hand, you may be able to think about your situation more rationally. Maybe you can see a solution more clearly and begin to develop a plan that involves your skills and support system. Focus on the things you can control first, and break up your tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. It always feels good to check something off your list, and if you’re able to break things down into separate components, that feeling of accomplishment may motivate you to tackle your responsibilities free of overwhelming thoughts.


Written by GUADS staff member Emily

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