Why Am I Feeling Overwhelmed? Four Ways To Identify And Manage Stress

By: Gabrielle Seunagal

Updated March 03, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC

From time to time, it's normal, and sadly even expected for individuals to feel overwhelmed. The world in which we live today is extremely fast-paced, active, and complex. People have various responsibilities, from careers to mortgage payments, spending time with family and the works. Even in the best scenarios where people have schedules and ways of maintaining balance, unexpected events can still manifest and potentially cause problems.

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Nine times out of ten, when someone feels overwhelmed, they've been doing too much for far too long. Either that or they have too much on their plate and not enough time to tackle everything. Believe it or not, getting overwhelmed is something that gradually creeps up on people. In the beginning, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to take on extra obligations or responsibilities. Before you know it, there are five additional things you need to do, and it's all gotten to be a bit too much. If you're feeling overwhelmed in life, then there are some details and potential reasons which you need to be aware of.

Why Am I Feeling Overwhelmed?

Despite how things may seem, feeling overwhelmed does not simply happen out of the blue. Regardless of what the situation may be or the various present factors, there is always a reason why someone is at their wit's end. They may be dealing with complications in multiple areas of their life. Toxic relationships, demands in the workplace, or family issues are additional possibilities, yet merely a fraction of the various causes which are typically linked to feeling overwhelmed. Understanding the most common causes behind why people feel overwhelmed in life will prove to be advantageous in your life.

A Lack Of Boundaries

Boundaries are imperative, especially in today's world. Being a helpful person and fulfilling obligations are admirable traits; however, taking care of yourself and setting boundaries is equally important. There are times where it's OK and even preferable, to say "no," excuse yourself from a certain environment, etc. Many individuals struggle with setting boundaries because they don't want to offend others around them. What's important to remember is that people who are truly good for you will not take issue with you setting boundaries; as a matter of fact, it's something which they will respect. Boundaries are healthy and can save you a lot of stress, heartache, and other problems.

Overextending Yourself

The overextension of self is particularly common, especially in the workplace. Many working people feel the need to push themselves, whether for the sake of impressing a client, completing a goal, or earning extra income from more hours of work. Now, there is nothing wrong with going the extra mile or pulling an all-nighter here or there, but balance is paramount. Doing a little more of something is fine on occasion; however, when it's a regular pattern, that's when the situation becomes problematic and causes you to feel overwhelmed.

Whenever you're in a situation where you're overextending yourself, you need to pause and take a step back. If you have too many demands and too little time, there are options. Can you increase the amount of time you have to complete everything? Can you let someone know that something has come up and you won't be able to carry out everything as planned? Doing this is rarely fun, but when it comes to your mental health, a time extension or cancellation is much better than living in stress.

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Too Much Clutter

Many people don't realize the impact that clutter can have on their productivity and overall mental health. Clutter doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of papers scattered everywhere or files all over the place; getting an incessant amount of emails or notifications on your tablet or phone while you are working can also serve as clutter. This can be very disorienting and distracting, especially when you're trying to complete a task. Over periods, this can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and compromise you in other areas of your life.

Ensuring that you're operating in a neat environment and even putting your devices on mute sometimes can serve as very effective ways to reduce clutter. There's nothing wrong with fulfilling duties and responsibilities; however, you need to go about doing this in a manner that is healthy and successful. This is not mutually exclusive to work either; avoiding clutter in all aspects of your life will inevitably prove to be helpful and beneficial, both in the short term and the long term.

How To Identify Stress

Stress goes hand and hand with feeling overwhelmed. As you might imagine, this is a very toxic, vicious cycle to be apart of. However, the good news is when you can identify stress, you can handle and manage it effectively. The truth of the matter is that there are a series of indicators of stress; these indicators exist on psychological, emotional, physical, and behavioral levels.


  • Negative Thoughts
  • Persistent Worries
  • Concentration Struggles
  • Lapses in Memory
  • Poor Judgement


  • Anger
  • Lack Self-Control
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Defensiveness
  • Poor Reactions to Criticism
  • Frustration
  • Mood Swings


  • Extreme weight changes
  • Exhaustion
  • Weakened immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Aches and pains
  • Panic attacks
  • Hyperventilation


  • Poor Hygiene
  • Abuse of Drugs and Alcohol
  • Workaholism
  • Recklessness
  • Lack of Work Productivity
  • Withdrawal from Hobbies and Other Activities

How To Manage Stress

As seen by the indicators of stress, being overwhelmed is nothing to be dismissed or taken lightly. When someone is overwhelmed or stressed out, it impacts them across the board. Nothing is worth taking such hits to your overall health and wellness. Thankfully, there are a series of ways to manage stress so that you don't lose yourself.

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Live A Healthy Lifestyle

The quality of your lifestyle has the immense power to either increase or reduce the amount of stress which you experience. Critical elements of a healthy lifestyle including exercising, eating a nutritious diet, and getting a good night's rest. This doesn't mean that you can never switch things up or treat yourself, but moderation is key. When you take care of yourself, it puts you in a much better position to handle situations that may otherwise prompt stress and other negative feelings. Living a healthy lifestyle also comes with the added benefit of setting a positive example for those around you.

Speak Up

Believe it or not, there are so many situations where people fail to assert themselves and speak up. Granted, this should be done at the appropriate times and in respectful manners, but you shouldn't be in a situation where you're afraid to express yourself. Whether you need to have a word with your boss about your hours, a conversation with your significant other, or talk with someone else, don't suffer in silence. Remaining quiet at the wrong times is a common cause of stress. If there's an issue, it needs to be addressed, and there's nothing wrong with you articulating this. Dealing with issues as they arise instead of allowing them to fester and worsen is almost always the best course of action.

Maintain A Supportive Inner Circle

Your inner circle and the people who you spend your time with will significantly contribute to your quality of life. Spending time with positive people who encourage you can cut back on stress. It makes a difference when you have a support system to confide in so you don't feel completely alone in the world. The individuals in your inner circle should want what's best for you and give you good advice. Love and friendship are very powerful forces and excellent busters of stress and feeling overwhelmed.

Partake In Recreational Hobbies

Having recreational hobbies or activities is another important method of dealing with stress. As previously stated, a lack of balance in life is one of the biggest enablers of stress. No matter how busy you may be or how many demands you have on the table, you need to take time for yourself. Having a hobby that makes you happy and brings joy into your life is very significant. Whether it's pottery, martial arts, or drawing, you need to have something for yourself. Recreational hobbies and activities are great for pausing, reflecting, and energizing. Having something fun to do allows your body and mind to reset and be in a better position to handle your additional obligations.

Asking For Help

If you find yourself regularly feeling overwhelmed or stressed, then this could be indicative of a more deep-seated issue. In a situation like this, signing up for online therapy with Regain can change your life.

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Working with an online therapist ensures that you can get help no matter where you are or what your schedule may be. You are also afforded the benefit of being given advice and guidance, which is specifically applicable to your situation. Online therapy doesn't mean that you won't ever face tough times, but it does guarantee that you never have to face tough times on your own.

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