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Why Am I Overwhelmingly Stressed Out & How to Find Relief?

What does feeling overwhelmed look like? Generally, it can be defined as difficulty coping with a stressful situation that can affect a person physically and mentally. This can make it difficult to manage day-to-day tasks, connect to others, make decisions, and more. If you realize that you have become emotionally overwhelmed and stressed out, a good place to start may be to ask yourself, “Why am I feeling so overwhelmed?”.

Reasons for Feeling Stressed Out  

There are many reasons why one might feel stressed out. These are just some examples of stressors that can lead to feelings of overwhelm: (Psych Central, 2021) 

  • Work responsibilities 
  • ​Relationship stressors 
  • Traumatic experiences 
  • ​Financial worries 
  • ​Political issues 
  • Environmental warnings 
  • Health concerns 
  • Living in a global pandemic 

It is important to note that mental health struggles such as anxiety, autism, ADHD, mood disorders, PTSD, and other mental health concerns can also make it more difficult to cope with stressors, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed. If you are feeling this way, know that you are not alone. A study conducted in 2020 from the American Psychological Association found that 60% reported feeling overwhelmed regarding the stressors mentioned above (Psych Central, 2021). Sometimes there can be more than one stressor at a time, which can make it difficult to pinpoint the reason why you are feeling so emotionally overwhelmed.  

Even if you are not able to figure out the why yet, it is okay to work towards acceptance. This means not trying to ignore or get rid of the feeling. Acceptance may sound odd because feeling overwhelmed or stressed out is not a pleasant feeling, but sometimes trying to avoid or get rid of a feeling can continue the cycle of feeling overwhelmed. Accepting a feeling does not mean you are accepting that you like it; it simply means you are starting the first step in the process of managing the feeling.

Avoid These Maladaptive Behaviors When Feeling Stressed Out 

Sometimes when we are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, we tend to be harsh on ourselves. For example, it is common that we compare ourselves to others, asking, “Why am I feeling overwhelmed when others may be struggling more”?. This social comparison is not a productive process because it is invalidating your own struggle. It is important to validate your feelings.  

Additionally, we might beat ourselves for not doing enough or for not preventing the stressor. At these moments, when you find yourself overwhelmed by negative thoughts, remember that some stressors are out of your control, and you can only focus on what is within your control. If you happen to notice yourself engaging in negative self-talk, ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend or loved one who was going through this?”. This is a way to reframe and begin to practice self-compassion. 

Three Techniques to De-stress When You’re Stressed Out 

1. A technique that can assist with acceptance (mentioned earlier) is Mindfulness. If you have heard this term before, you may associate it with meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment. This also includes being aware of and accepting of thoughts and emotions. Sometimes our mind can be focused on the past or the future which can lead to feeling overwhelmed in the present. Mindfulness can be a way to focus on the present moment that you are in.Meditation is one example of a way that mindfulness can be practiced, but it can also be applied to daily activities such as walking and eating.  

2. Related to meditation, deep breathing can be another great tool to manage feeling stressed out. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. By increasing oxygen intake to your brain, this can lead to feeling relaxed. There are guided meditations that focus on breathing that can assist you with this. When feeling overwhelmed, you may not feel as if you have time to practice these techniques. Remember that it is okay to stop, take a break, and take a few deep breaths. This may not immediately stop you from feeling overwhelmed but it can reduce those feelings and improve your ability to cope with the stressors you are facing.  

3. Lastly, find time to do what you enjoy versus doing what you feel like you “should” or “must do”. Although these are techniques that you can do on your own, it does not hurt to have extra support when managing feeling emotionally overwhelmed. This support can include talking to a family, a friend, or a mental health professional.  

Regain Balance When Stressed Out through Self-Care 

If you would like additional support, it may be a good idea to consider individual counseling and connect with one of our skilled therapists at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact us via phone at 888-661-2742,text “APPT” to 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment, or contact us online. 

References: How to Deal with Feeling Overwhelmed: 9 Tips. (2021, November 16). Psych  


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