Just thinking about the word overwhelm can leave you feeling a little, well, overwhelmed. It is a powerful word as the feelings associated with overwhelmed leave us to feel stretched to our limits or even pushed beyond them. Even the definition of the word itself is a lot to take when it is defined as “to bury or drown beneath a huge mass.”

There is no denying that being overwhelmed is not a good feeling and most people have likely felt overwhelmed at least once before. But can be overwhelmed lead to consequences such as depression or anxiety? For some people, it might. In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about being overwhelmed and what you can do to address the feeling and causes of overwhelm in your life. 

Do you already know you could use some support with seeing past your overwhelm? Consider booking a discovery session with certified life coach Lisa Jeffs. She can help you understand what might be holding you down and support you in learning how to overcome your overwhelm.

What is Overwhelm

Overwhelm is not a medical diagnosis but is instead a state of emotional being. The feeling of being overwhelmed is a strong one and this feeling can overpower other positive feelings in your life. There are many factors that can affect overwhelm and often it is a combination of competing factors that pushes people into a state of overwhelm.

As being overwhelmed can often come from a combination of sources it can sometimes be challenging to know what the root cause of these feelings are. Common causes of overwhelm include major life changes, stress, relationship challenges and work or family stressors. When you are overwhelmed it may cause you to react more intensely or feel certain feelings more.

Some common indicators that you may be dealing with overwhelm include:

  • You don’t want to do things you usually enjoy – there is just too much else going on.
  • You feel reactionary and respond emotionally to even minor inconveniences or stressors.
  • You feel stronger emotions and apply that to everything else in your day.
  • You can’t focus or figure out how to make progress towards completing tasks.
  • You simply feel like there is too much to do or your list of stressors never ends.

Can Overwhelm Cause Depression?

Some of the signs of overwhelm can sound similar to the signs of depression. If you are ever concerned that you might be suffering from depression you should reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional to help you treat your depression.

Stress can be a contributing factor towards overwhelm and according to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress or an inability to cope with stress can be a risk factor for depression. This does not mean that having feelings of overwhelm will lead to depression, but it is a good reminder that it is important to stay on top of and try to reduce your feelings of overwhelm. There are many other factors that can lead to developing depression including genetics and brain chemicals. It is always important to address any feelings of depression or overwhelm.

Overwhelm at Home

Though many people consider their home to be a safe haven, it can also be a place of overwhelm and stress. Household tasks such as cooking, cleaning and budgeting can all cause stress. These stressors can become compounded when we consider both positive and negative stressors surrounding children, spouses or other family members in the home.

Often people feel that the stressors of running a household can be very overwhelming. Day to day tasks can add up and when they start to feel overwhelming it can be hard to know where to turn. Consider the following tips when looking to get home-life related overwhelm in check:

Delegate – relinquishing control of household tasks can sometimes feel like a challenge. Try to delegate some of your less important tasks to other members of your household.

Say No – say no to time commitments or events that will add to your stressors. Many people have difficulty saying no. Always remember to set your own boundaries and respect them.

Develop a Plan – recruit help from a family member or life coach to help you see through your feelings of overwhelm and develop a plan to manage your responsibilities.

Take it Day by Day – understand that some days will feel more overwhelming than others. Celebrate your wins and be positive about the good things you have accomplished.

Overwhelm in the Workplace

The workplace can be another significant cause of stress and overwhelm in anyone’s life. Though your workload can often feel out of your control, it is important to let those around you know when you are struggling and need help. Consider doing the following when your workplace is the cause of your overwhelm.

Talk to your boss – keeping your feelings of overwhelm to yourself likely won’t help make it better. When appropriate consider letting your boss know what’s going on and ask for help. For tips on talking to your boss see our previous article “How to Tell Your Boss You Are Overwhelmed.”

Don’t bring work home – setting boundaries around work is important. Though sometimes answering after-hours emails or phone calls is necessary, try to limit the amount you do this. Respect your own time and allow yourself a break from work by not bringing it home and not being available when you are not in the office or on vacation.

Make Changes – sometimes overwhelm in the workplace is more than anyone needs to deal with. Consider making a change in order to reduce your overwhelm and feel more aligned with your vision of success. A career coach can guide you in making real change to take control of your happiness and success.

Know You’re Not Alone

There is no need to feel like a failure if you are feeling overwhelmed. Feelings of overwhelm are normal and most people will have these feelings at one time or another. It is always important to address your feeling of overwhelm in order to live as your true self, feel fulfilled, and be confident in your success.

If you need help with working past your feelings of overwhelm don’t hesitate to reach out to your support networks. Let the people in your life know when you need help. You are not alone and with support and guidance, you can overcome your overwhelm.