Overwhelmed? Do this! An Antidote to Feeling Overwhelmed
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
When you get overwhelmed, do you feel paralyzed, freeze up, or quit? Or do you “run amuck,” frantically trying to do everything? Or get irritable, defensive? Maybe you procrastinate or avoid the task?
When you start to have a bad day, do you go out of your way to bring to mind every single bad thing that is happening or has ever happened? Or do you just feel like there is so much to do that it’s pointless to even start? These behaviors are all functional in the short term – they give us an excuse to shut down and curl up in bed. But they won’t help you in the long run.
On the other hand, some people have the habit of sprinting about trying to do everything for everyone until they become completely exhausted and shut down. This might get some things done, but it also isn’t sustainable in the long run.
We often develop habitual responses to high levels of stress. The tendency is to shrink back, withdraw, or protect oneself. Look at these responses. Each is a type of fight/flight/freeze response, triggered by an overload to the alerting part of the brain, the sympathetic nervous system. These responses are natural, but they often get in the way of getting anything done.
What are your behaviors when you feel overwhelmed? How well are they working?
The deep brain (the brain stem and the limbic brain) is not built to multitask efficiently. Our cortex can do it to a degree, but juggling multiple tasks freaks out our core brain and triggers an emotional response. Fortunately, this is something we can counteract in a few simple ways.
The antidote to being overwhelmed:
Write it down (do a brain dump or a mind map)
Break it down (into small concrete steps)
Prioritize (choose what is most important and say no to the least important tasks)
Do one thing
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Therapy in a Nutshell, LLC, and the information provided by Emma McAdam are solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and are not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Emma McAdam is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health.
I’m Emma McAdam. I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and I have worked in various settings of change and growth since 2004. My experience includes juvenile corrections, adventure therapy programs, wilderness therapy programs, an eating disorder treatment center, a residential treatment center, and I currently work in an outpatient therapy clinic.
In therapy I use a combination of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Systems Theory, positive psychology, and a bio-psycho-social approach to treating mental illness and other challenges we all face in life. The ideas from my videos are frequently adapted from multiple sources. Many of them come from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, especially the work of Steven Hayes, Jason Luoma, and Russ Harris. The sections on stress and the mind-body connection derive from the work of Stephen Porges (the Polyvagal theory), Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing) Francine Shapiro (EMDR), and Bessel Van Der Kolk. I also rely heavily on the work of the Arbinger institute for my overall understanding of our ability to choose our life's direction.
And deeper than all of that, the Gospel of Jesus Christ orients my personal worldview and sense of security, peace, hope, and love https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/comeuntochrist/believe
If you are in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or your local emergency services.
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