Sydney Gideon, LSW

Unfortunately, in today’s world it seems we’ve come to accept feeling constantly stressed while moving at an extremely fast pace. It comes as no surprise that people are feeling overwhelmed and unhappy as our brains try to make sense of an ever-changing world. If we continue to increase our workloads the common response is to wake up earlier and stay later in order to complete the necessary tasks. However, wouldn’t it be more effective to re-evaluate and find a different way of operating? The feeling of being constantly overwhelmed can lead to mental slowness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, difficulty thinking logically, racing mind, and an impaired ability to problem solve. By this logic, the more work we’re given and the more we feel we have to do the harder it becomes to complete each task. Not only is our workload growing but also our efficiency is decreasing. This starts a vicious cycle of feeling overwhelmed and cognitive fatigue. Below, are effective ways to manage the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed as discussed by Rebecca Zucker in the Harvard Business Review.

Feeling overwhelmed can often make our heads spin not knowing where to begin a task or how to even start. By determining the primary source of this feeling you’ll be able to set a plan to begin moving forward. To figure out the primary source of overwhelm, ask yourself “What one or two things, if taken off my plate would alleviate 80% of the stress that I feel right now?” When you find an answer, try to break down the task into smaller steps and tackle the steps you’re able to as soon as you can.

Setting boundaries can be very containing when we begin to feel overwhelmed or out of control. By setting boundaries on your time and/or your workload it’ll give you a framework to work within providing more structure. To do this, you can set aside a certain amount of time for each task, decline certain types of work, or set a specific time you leave the office each day. By doing this it can help you to become aware of time you’re spending inefficiently and can help you become more disciplined and therefore more efficient.

While many people view being a perfectionist as a good thing, it can greatly inhibit the work you’re trying to do. At some point, no matter how many times you review or change something you’re working on, it won’t become better. In fact, it will just become different if not worse. As Sheryl Sandberg said, “Done is better than perfect.”

Many of us fall into the mindset that we can do thing’s better than others so we might as well do it ourselves. Or, it’ll take more time to teach others how to do a task than it would to just complete the task ourselves. While this may be true, it’s inevitable we’re sacrificing something else in order to make time to complete things ourselves. If we can outsource or delegate some of our work, even if that means taking the time to teach someone, it’ll allow the rest of our work and lives to function at a higher and better capacity.

Lastly, challenge yourself. If you feel you’ve tried everything possible, including the suggestions above, and are still in a consistent state of feeling overwhelmed, challenge the inevitable assumptions you’re making. These assumptions typically catastrophize outcomes if you’re unable to complete your assigned workload. While these beliefs may feel very real, your mistake will likely not lead to the failure of the company and by not being available 24/7 people will not start to question your value. Challenging your assumptions is necessary to breaking out of unproductive behaviors causing you to feel overwhelmed.

If you’ve found yourself feeling constantly overwhelmed it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!