Feeling over-whelmed is something that happens to most of us. It usually creeps up on us, unawares, and then something happens that wakes us up to the feeling. Upon reflection, we start to realize that we are feeling over-whelmed by other things in our lives. There is much to be over-whelmed by: children, family, in-laws, jobs, decisions to be made, money, school, health issues… you get the idea.

Coping with one of these issues can be difficult enough but when you add in any of the others, you get a double or triple-whammy. Sometimes you just get used to dealing with these stressors but often something happens that serves as a wake-up call.

Wake up calls can occur in many forms: a fight with someone close to you, feeling tired on a regular basis, feeling emotionally flat, having one or more outbursts which may be out of character… and the list goes on.

Unlike unwanted newsletters in your inbox, you can’t just delete the stresses in your life that are contributing to your over-whelm. It would be easy if you could, but over-whelm forces you to slow down and take stock of what’s going on for you, both internally and externally. Sometimes it’s possible to fix what is over-whelming but often it can be a combination of things that present as more complex.

Choose someone in your life who is supportive (if you have a partner, this would be a good opportunity to practice sharing what’s going on for you). You can use this opportunity to talk with them about your feelings and work together to find some strategies for resolving the issues. Even if there are no apparent solutions, it can be helpful just to talk about your feelings and have someone listen to you without judgment or the need to fix anything. This is often hard for people and you may need to let them know in advance that you just need them to hear you out and not jump in with any solutions. I find that people usually need permission to do this, especially if they are oriented towards problem-solving.

Sharing your burden with someone else, while it doesn’t necessarily fix anything, often helps you to feel lighter and not so alone in managing the stressors that are contributing to your feelings of over-whelm. This is an important part of building and maintaining your relationship: listening, sharing and supporting.

And it is an important part of self-care. Taking the time to manage your over-whelm is a way of respecting what is going on for you on an emotional level and letting yourself know you are worth spending time on.

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