There are many reasons someone may feel overwhelmed in the workplace. Sometimes the weight of our workload gets to be too much, or external factors such a family concerns or personal health play a part in our mental load. Often when feeling overwhelmed we believe that there is nothing that can be done about it and feel as if we simply need to keep moving forward. Though these feelings are normal it is not a good idea to hold in your feelings of being overwhelmed. In order to be successful and productive both at work and at home you need to manage your mental load and stress levels.

Having support in the workplace is a great way to stay on top of your mental load and reduce feelings overwhelm. Having the support of your boss is critical for keeping your workload and workplace stress in check. But how do you tell your boss you are overwhelmed? Doing so can be intimidating. In this article we will address why you should and how to tell your boss you are feeling overwhelmed.

Remember that being overwhelmed does make you a failure. If you need help with what to do when feeling like a failure or more guidance with learning how to speak to your boss, consider reaching out to Lisa Jeffs.

Why You Should

Being overwhelmed at work isn’t good for you and it isn’t good for your workplace either. Whether your feelings of overwhelm come from your personal life or workplace stressors there is not doubt that it can affect the quality of your work. Getting support can help you to better mange your workload and find balance between external stressors and work life.

By telling your boss how you are feeling you open the lines of communication. Not only do you make your feelings heard but you also allow for your needs to be met. Your boss can’t be solely responsible for managing your workload. And if you don’t share your feelings, they won’t know what factors could be affecting your work.

Allowing your boss, the opportunity to help you overcome your feelings of overwhelm is good for you and your boss. When you are feeling good about your work and work life balance you are more likely to be more productive and less likely to be worn down with stress. This can lead to fewer sick days, more creativity and a general sense of happiness in the workplace. Though it can be uncomfortable you should try to be open and honest with your boss and always let them know when your workload feels like too much.

When Should You Tell?

If you’re asking yourself this question, then you likely already know that the answer is sooner rather than later. You should tell your boss that you are feeling overwhelmed as the feeling arises. Though this is the best-case scenario, it isn’t always possible. Sometimes you won’t be able to tell your boss until your level of overwhelm is at a crisis level.

Try to become self aware and identify what happens when you begin to feel overwhelmed. If you can catch it early you boss will likely be able to accommodate you in order to quickly and effectively reduce your overwhelm. Don’t wait until a day before a deadline to let your boss know the task is too much. Allow yourself to ask for help when you need it, not when it becomes a problem for everyone around you too.


How to Tell Your Boss You Are Overwhelmed?

  1. Have a Plan – consider writing down what you need to say before speaking with your boss. Use this list when speaking so that you ensure you don’t forget to say something important.
  2. Consider involving Human Resources – you know your workplace best. Sometimes it is a good idea to obtain the support of your HR department to help mediate the conversation.
  3. Don’t make excuses – you do not have to make excuses for how you fell. What you are going through is valid. It’s OK to be overwhelmed and it’s good to get support to help overcome it.
  4. Get support – look to outside support to help you with your feelings. Talk to your support system both before and after talking to your boss. They may be able to offer suggestions for lessening your load or help you work through what to say.

What If My Boss Isn’t Supportive?

In the best-case scenario your boss will be understanding, helpful and supportive. But not every work environment will be like this. If you tell your boss you are overwhelmed and need help and they give you a “tough luck” response it can be emotionally challenging. There are a few things you can do to move forward if your boss won’t help you.

  • Develop healthy coping strategies – if your boss won’t help you, you’ll need to develop strategies for coping with the overwhelm of your work life. Consider taking time for yourself outside of work to recharge by doing things you love or by spending time with you support network.
  • Ask for help with home life – find ways to minimize your stress at home if you can’t change your work situation. Hire someone to help you clean. Ask for help with meal prepping. Offload anything you can to other members of the household when possible.
  • Consider finding new employment – if your work environment is toxic and there is no end to overwhelm in sight, you may want to consider a new employer. You don’t have to work in a stressful environment if it makes you unhappy.

Your Feelings Matter

It is easy to allow our feelings of overwhelm consume us. But if we don’t address them and get help when we need it, we won’t ever work through these feelings. You deserve to be happy in your workplace. Your boss can be a great resource in addressing concerns or barriers at work that are contributing to your feelings of overwhelm. Learn how to have a successful life and make the most out of your support network to overcome feelings of overwhelm and be happy in the workplace.