You probably know the feeling. You've got a lot going on at work, you're struggling to keep up with your social life, and you're finding it increasingly difficult to spend some quality time with your partner. In other words, you can't cope. But why do you feel so constantly overwhelmed? Is it a byproduct of living in modern times? Or could your desire to please every person that walks into your life be the cause?
The symptoms of feeling overwhelmed can be both physical and mental. You may feel anxious, burdened, stressed, pressured, and even irritable, meditation coach Sura wrote in the Huffington Post. Experts at CalmClinic add that physical symptoms can range from feeling lightheaded or sick to experiencing chest pains or a rapid heartbeat.
Why this feeling occurs is a little harder to define. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, it could be because something has gone wrong in your life and you're struggling to deal with the effects. In my personal experience, it can also stem from failing to balance multiple deadlines and personal pressures or a feeling that you're just too busy.
But are you actually as burdened as you think? According to a 2015 survey of 10,000 adults across 28 countries, some people feel no option but to lie about how busy they are. As Quartz states, the authors of the report believe this is because certain cultures emphasise that being busy is the same as "leading a life of significance."
In my experience, that's true. When I have a bit of downtime, I often find myself wondering why that is. Surely I've forgotten to do something. Surely I'm supposed to be meeting someone or replying to someone right now. Surely I have a purpose. More often than not, I end up carrying out some menial task just to make myself seem busy. Whether it's checking emails that could have waited until the next day (or even week) or embarking on a cleaning spree, these activities usually just result in more work.
To combat this particular sign of anxiety, it's important to remove yourself from the situation. Mental health charity Mind recommends taking a short break from whatever it is that is causing you stress. This could involve going for a walk, listening to relaxing music, or picturing yourself in a calmer environment.
CalmClinic has a couple more solutions. A bout of journalling could help relieve any feelings that are weighing you down. Once they're on the page, it can be easier to sort them out and let certain things go. Alternatively, try breathing in and out slowly or carrying out a light a form of exercise. According to the experts, this can improve breathing-related symptoms and free the mind of any unwanted overwhelming thoughts.
If your feelings are a result of a particular event, relationship advice service Relate advises thinking about how you coped with a previous challenging experience to see if you can use a similar strategy.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists also states that speaking to another person can be a great way to make yourself feel better. Some people may want to speak to a close friend or family member. Others may prefer to open up to a stranger such as a counsellor or doctor.
Ultimately, it's about figuring out what really needs to be done and what can be put to one side temporarily or permanently, states CalmClinic. Can you delegate a task at work? Can you say no to a social occasion that you don't really want to attend? Don't worry about disappointing people. Have a plan of action and stick to it.